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Korey Kormick ′06

It was a given that I would play chess wherever I went to college, having fallen in love with the game in fourth grade. Thankfully, I had a high school teacher who encouraged me to further pursue my interest.  When deciding upon a college, I came to Rhodes for two reasons: the Search Program and the urban location.

My family moved from Peoria to rural Kentucky when I was eight, and I grew up missing city life. I enjoy having access to public transportation, farmers’ markets and fair trade goods. I also appreciate musical theater, so shows at the Orpheum and Playhouse are a real bonus.

The passion for interdisciplinary education came from my mother, who has instilled it in me all my life. Not only did I love the Search program, I minored in American Studies, which I began my freshman year in the American Studies Focus program. It was equally phenomenal and, after a year in both programs I felt like I could take any course in the catalog. The professors used exactly the right combination of high expectations, help and support. I will never forget the experience.

Another part of my life here has been the Bonner Scholars program, which got me involved in many things I never even imagined. Oxfam America and conferences around the country on homelessness, hunger, social activism, and advocacy helped to empower me and guide me in my work here at Rhodes and in the greater Memphis community. These led to internships with Kentucky Harvest in Louisville and work with the Memphis Food Bank and Peace & Justice Center.

Best of all have been opportunities to combine chess with community service. I worked through the Bonner Foundation to create a program called Chess as an Educational Resource. Also, I worked with other Rhodes students to provide programs at two of the schools in the Rhodes Hollywood Springdale Partnership. Two of the children from my elementary school program went on to the middle school program, where they then won scholarships to the Mid-South Chess Camp we have here every summer. That gave me a small taste of how Grandmaster Maurice Ashley must have felt when the Harlem street kids he tutored got scholarships to good colleges and came back to work with him in their old neighborhood.

Life does tend to be circular. When I was a first-year student at Rhodes, Robert Edgecombe, a senior campus leader, approached me about working with the Rites to Play carnival. Of course, I was so appreciative—an upperclassman inviting me—that I worked very hard in order to not disappoint him.  This year, as Chairman of the Rites to Play committee myself, I approached a first-year student with the same offer of responsibility. She responded just as I did, and I felt like I could give back the opportunities for growth that Rhodes gave me—and it made me smile.

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