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Student Spotlight: Making the Rhodes Alumni Connection

When Austin Dixon ’15 visited potential colleges, he found something at Rhodes that he did not encounter at other schools: discussions about careers in a concrete manner.

“I came for one of the Spring Preview days,” he recalls. “My father and I went to one of the class previews for the business department, and they were discussing how many of the graduating seniors had jobs even before they walked across the stage. That was something we hadn’t really seen in any of the other schools—a focus on transitioning students from being students to being people with actual careers or going forward into graduate school. That was really attractive.”

In his time here, the Guin, AL, native has grown from a shy student to a leader on campus and a hard-working intern in his academic field of commerce and business. On campus, he is a Peer Assistant, a member of Class Council, a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., president of the Black Student Association, and treasurer of the Hispanic Organization for Languages and Arts. And he has learned a lot.

“Rhodes has taught me how to be a better student and how to be more professional in applying for jobs and internships. Rhodes is academically rigorous, but if you’re willing to put forth the time and effort, then you’ll be able to get through. Also, there are good relationships between students and the faculty. The classes at Rhodes are small, so you definitely get to know your professors. I feel that, at any given time, I could go to any one of my professors and ask them for help,” he says.

True to what he saw in Rhodes on his visit, Dixon has already begun gaining valuable work experience at a local finance firm, The PFM Group. “Everything I do in the internship ties in with my classwork. I’m doing bond valuations at work, and we’re doing the same thing in class. The same skills that I’m using on the job are also helping in class, and vice versa,” he notes.

A little bit of Rhodes awaited him when he arrived at PFM. “I’m working with two Rhodes alums there, Lisa Daniel ’90 and Joshua McCoy ’08, and from the first interview they were asking me, ‘Is this or that professor still at Rhodes?’ We were talking about some of the commonalities between the classes then and now. They offered help with my course work, since they had been through it before. To have that extra help is something that I didn’t anticipate. I plan to maintain this position or another intern position to continue gaining the experience that I need, while continuing to soak up all the information I can in the classroom.”