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Doug Lensing ′08

The curriculum at Rhodes is built on the theory that students′ out-of-class experiences can reinforce classroom learning and even make us hungrier for knowledge. By the same token, lessons learned in class make us more effective in other areas. That has certainly been true for me.

As a Bonner Scholar and Rhodes Service Fellow, I have had the opportunity to return to the neighborhood where I tutored as a high school volunteer. My first assignment in the Rhodes Hollywood Springdale Partnership was to help organize the residents so they can define their concerns and advocate effectively for them. Their primary concern was unemployment, and I wanted to help.

Not having a good grasp of economic development, I took micro- and macroeconomics and learned about human capital development and its relation to productivity. That was a life-changing concept for me. Those classes helped me know for sure that I want to go into politics and put my theories into practice. That led to a decision to run for vice president and now, President of Rhodes Student Government.

Another incredibly powerful experience was a trip to Rwanda. After seeing the movie Hotel Rwanda, I knew I just had to go there. It wasn’t easy to make it happen, but I got to have an extended conversation with the chief economic adviser to the president of a country where job development and retention issues are similar to the ones right here in Memphis and the Delta. Back home, I met the world’s most famous Rwandan, Paul Rusesabagina, when he came to speak at Rhodes.

There′s no question that my passion makes me work harder to complete my political science major. As much as I savor my time at Rhodes, I′m also looking forward to getting out into the "real world" and harnessing my rich and well-rounded education to try to make a difference.

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