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Lizzie Phillips ′07

I was lured to Rhodes College by the small class sizes, liberal arts curriculum and competitive running program. However, a few months into my college tenure, I came to appreciate Rhodes’ greatest attribute—the inspiring community of students, faculty and staff.

The Rhodes community has afforded me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. One professor in particular, the venerable Dr. Marshall McMahon, tirelessly devotes himself to enhancing the academic and personal development of his students. Professor McMahon has been influential in shaping my college experience through his unwavering guidance and support. During the past three years, he has encouraged me to apply to various programs I considered beyond my reach. His high expectations gave me the confidence to participate in the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies program, to study economics abroad in Brussels, Belgium, and to intern with the U.S. Mission to NATO.

Along with a remarkable support system of engaged professors and staff, the Rhodes student body proves an exceptional mixture of talent, enthusiasm and diversity. I engaged myself in this dynamic student community as a member of the cross country and track team. Until I studied abroad, I spent most of my time training, traveling to meets and bonding with my track mates, but the most significant gift of cross country was yet to come.

As part of the Rhodes commitment to community service, I decided to bring my love of running to girls who would probably never have the opportunity to be challenged and engaged in a team-like setting. With the support of my fellow classmates and the Leadership Office, I established a fitness and mentoring program called “Great Strides” in August of 2005. My initial goal was focused on physical health but I soon saw a greater need—teaching respect for one’s mind and body. While I studied abroad, a good friend and teammate May King took over the program. May built upon the vision and established a strong base for this nascent initiative. This year, I have worked with a host of passionate and committed volunteers to expand the program as well as leave it with a sustainable foundation.

The Rhodes community is unparalleled, and I am forever indebted to those who have devoted their time and energy to helping me discover my passions and pursue my dreams.

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