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Bekka Russ ′09

I’m from a very small town in Texas that has a Dairy Queen and a flashing red light. When Rhodes started sending me brochures, I realized that it had all of the qualities I wanted in a school, including a strong biology department and medical service opportunities.

Now, I’m volunteering at the Med (Memphis Regional Medical Center) trauma center, and it’s a very maturing experience. When a patient comes in, the doctors let us dress out and look on while they’re doing the initial evaluation. It is breathtaking to observe as five or six doctors come together to do everything they can in order to save a person’s life.

I also have an internship at Pediatrics East in Cordova, where I shadow two doctors and see every patient they see. I get to watch as the doctors examine a child, whether the child is ill or just needs a routine check-up. These doctors are my mentors. They not only take the time to teach me anything and everything I would like to know, but they have also strongly contributed to my passion and drive for a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

The children at the Grizzlies House (a short-term housing facility for St. Jude patients and their families) especially inspire me to live a life full of love and hope. As the coordinator, I work with the other volunteers to plan activities for the kids so they get to interact with each other and have some fun. I think it is important for these children to play and laugh, and as a volunteer it is my job to promote these things.  I love seeing these children who have been through so many hardships, but they’re still happy and still loving life. It would be an understatement to say these children are special. They are nothing less than phenomenal!

As a biology major, I am currently taking Comparative Vertebrate Morphology with Dr. Alan Jaslow. Last year Dr. Jaslow became my academic advisor, and I enjoyed his personality and positive attitude so much that I decided I must take a class from him. Dr. Jaslow is the most approachable and uplifting professor I have had at Rhodes. I can meet with him to talk about class or to talk about my future.

Competing in track and field has taught me that I can excel in academics while committing time to other activities that positively affect my life. Coach Robert Shankman encouraged me to join the team last year, and he’s very understanding of my busy schedule. Last year at conference I won the 100-meter hurdles and earned second in the pole vault and third in the javelin. Now, I’m training to do the heptathlon, which consists of seven events. Track has shown me that if you’re willing to work hard and get your mind set on what you want, you can excel in any area.

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