Justin LeBlanc ′09
Undoubtedly being a student at Rhodes has provided me with a plethora of opportunities—opportunities that I am able to say with certainty I would not have had anywhere else. That being said, I could tell you about my several trips to Yale University’s Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory to perform experiments and about my honors research in nuclear physics; about numerous trips to different conferences to present my research, and about my pending publications; about how I am the Rhodes Student Associate for the Department of Physics; about how I have been a laboratory assistant since my freshman year, and how I will have assisted in administering over fifteen laboratory classes upon graduation.
I could talk about being one of the four Goldwater Fellowship nominees from Rhodes; or how I have played a role in establishing Rhodes’ new radio station and now hold a position on its executive board.
Here’s the thing, though: what makes Rhodes great to me is not merely all of the phenomenal opportunities I have been presented with, or what has come of them. More importantly, it’s about the people who have helped me along my way. I believe that’s something that needs to be emphasized—I am not the lone possessor of my accomplishments.
I consider all of the people that surround me to have equal ownership of everything I have done. My friends and professors have been integral in my perseverance through frustrating times. Without those people and their encouragement, I would have lost my sanity long ago whilst spending countless hours in the library or in a laboratory working.
Perhaps my greatest accomplishment is realizing that college is what you make of it—you can take as much or as little away from it as you desire. You can choose to squander your time here, skipping classes and doing only what it takes to pass your classes, all in an effort to merely acquire a piece of paper that will put you in a position to make more money later in life. And if that’s all you want, Rhodes is a well-respected name that is good to have on that piece of paper when you are applying for jobs.
However, if you have a desire to be a scholar—to truly broaden your horizons and explore disciplines outside of your specific area of interest—Rhodes can be an incredible place for that. If you want a place where professors are sincerely concerned about your well-being and your future and a place where you can have friends with completely different personalities, interests, and pursuits—Rhodes is where I have discovered them.