President’s Page: Moments That Matter Most
By President William E. Troutt
In a recent Lynx TV interview, RSG President Andy Greer asked me, “What have been your most satisfying moments at Rhodes?” The answer was simple: students sharing their successes. Whether it be landing the job of their dreams, admission to a top graduate school or receiving a special recognition, students sharing their achievements are the moments that matter most. Earlier this spring, I received a call from the Watson Foundation. The call was to let me know that Joel Parsons ’07 had been named a Watson Fellow. Soon afterward, Aaron Creek ’07 came by my office to inform me that he had been named Rhodes’ first Luce Scholar. Let me tell you more about these two students.
Joel Parsons has taken full advantage of the educational opportunities at Rhodes. He was recruited to write a series of articles for the Memphis Commercial Appeal his very first year. As a sophomore, he started a program to provide homeless men and women an avenue of expression through art, and he staged several unique exhibitions that attracted others to support their work. He spent a semester of his junior year studying in the Czech Republic. Now he’s off to Italy, Turkey, India, South Africa and Peru to study the relationship between art and activism.
Aaron Creek also illustrates how talented students take advantage of every opportunity to weave a tapestry of learning experiences—both in and out of the classroom. Aaron arrived at Rhodes knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the health professions, and he took advantage of all available resources to ensure that he was well prepared. In addition to working with Dr. Alan Jaslow to determine medical school options, he volunteered at the Regional Medical Center. Aaron sought assistance from Career Services to line up an internship at the internationally-known Campbell Clinic. This experience sparked him to pursue others, culminating with a medical mission trip to Nigeria. As a Luce Scholar, he will work in the coming year in the Philippines.
Joel and Aaron received as complete an education as you could envision. They received exceptional mentoring from our Faculty Committee on Postgraduate Scholarships. They participated in a wealth of cocurricular opportunities. In addition, both students were Bonner Scholars, which meant that as part of their financial assistance necessary to attend Rhodes, they committed 10 hours a week to local organizations where they applied leadership training and lessons learned from the classroom and the cocurriculum.
In recent years we have redefined the relationship between classroom learning and beyond-the-gates experiences. In fact, our new foundations curriculum enables students to build into their course of study experiences that broaden their connections between the classroom and the world. In addition, thanks to the increasing number of cooperative efforts among faculty and alumni, many of our students are gaining valuable knowledge both inside and outside the gates of Rhodes, as you have seen in the article “New York State of Mind.”
With your help we will continue to find more opportunities for students to connect the very best in classroom learning with the best in learning beyond our campus. I look forward to many more satisfying moments with students sharing their successes and how their Rhodes experiences have changed their lives.