Faces of Rhodes

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Ruthie Mengistu ′14

Name: Ruthie Mengistu
Class Year: 2014
Hometown: Somerset, KY
Major: Psychology
Minor: Music, Spanish

Research interests: Speech and language disorders, specifically voice disorders as a result of throat and neck cancers.

Extra-curricular activities: Rhodes College Diplomats, Kappa Delta, Work-Study in the Barret Library, Rhodes Singers, Tuesday Fellowship, Barista (off-campus), and intern at Deaf Family Literacy of Memphis

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College:

Oh, wow... Well, my junior year I started researching colleges, and my mother was casually flipping through Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives when she stumbled upon Rhodes’ chapter. It was described so beautifully that, to be honest, I was sold right then and there, but my heart was still leaning towards another school. Any confusion I may have had was settled when I toured this campus for the first time. I was drawn in by the monastery-esque design and was immediately welcomed in by the Music Department. In fact, that very evening I was invited to attend my current voice instructor’s faculty concert. The close-knit community here was obvious to me from day one and it was a sincere honor to be accepted into it. 

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes College?

Before Rhodes, I don’t think I was passionate about any specific subject. I enjoyed them all to some level but there was nothing that really sparked my interest. When I came to Rhodes, I encountered the opposite problem. Through the Foundations program, my eyes became opened to subjects I never knew I could come to love. European music history, for example, was a class I thought I would struggle through. But I was surprised to discover how fascinating it is to learn how music evolved throughout time. From music to Spanish to psychology, I have been challenged to take the time to learn simply for the joy of learning, not for a grade. Rhodes has stretched me to strive, not necessarily for more answers, but for better questions, and for that alone, I will never be the same.

How has your internship with Deaf Family Literacy of Memphis influenced your perspective career path?

Did you know that most deaf and hard-of-hearing children may never read above a fourth-grade reading level? I had no idea until I started my internship with Deaf Family Literacy of Memphis (DFLM). This organization is working hard to improve statistics like these for the deaf community around and in the greater Memphis area. Through a family-oriented approach, they aim to give deaf and hard-of-hearing children confidence in their abilities to become successful students by setting high expectations for them. But my favorite aspect of this internship was the more hands-on work I was able to witness and take part in. Not only did I begin learning sign language through DFLM, but I had the opportunity to work with one of these deaf mentors on his weekly family visits. With my growing American Sign Language vocabulary, I had the unique chance to simultaneously learn and teach a deaf four-year-old basic, everyday signs. This internship has only further solidified my intentions of pursuing a career in speech-language pathology.

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