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Stephanie Aughinbaugh ′09

Hometown: Plano, Texas
Major: Political Science Minor: Psychology
Rocks my world: Working with children in various settings caused Stephanie to rethink her goals.

What’s your first memory of Rhodes?
The tour I took as a prospective student. I was looking for a college with rigorous academics that also offered great experiences outside the classroom. That tour convinced me that this was the place for me and it also got me interested in the admissions process. I’ve always been interested in education.

Where did that interest come from?
My mom is a special education teacher and I grew up watching her work with special needs children. She helped me see that they are so smart but that you have to be willing to look at smart in different ways. When you begin to do that you realize how different people are, how to find their skills and strengths.

Is that why you are minoring in psychology?
Maybe but I think it has more to do with Professor Chris Wetzel. I had planned to have a minor in a different academic department but I’m crazy about him. The material is so interesting, and I love the way he teaches.

And political science?
I didn’t really have to study in high school but it’s been a different story here! Professor Dan Cullen taught me to think in a different way, more philosophically, and to try to answer questions on my own. He’s the first teacher who made me really want to learn. And Professor Wirls has had a similar effect on me. He always pushes you further than you ever knew you could go.

How about the outside experiences you were seeking?
I’ve gotten my money’s worth! As a Rhodes Diplomat I give volunteer tours for the Admissions Office and I try hard to make our visitors’ experience as memorable as mine was. And I found an early niche in service.

What kind of service?
I coordinate the college student volunteers at St. Jude and work the Happy Cart there. At Rhodes I help coordinate the Rites to Play carnival for neighborhood children. I’ve recently started tutoring some middle school students at a local public school. And, I also work with the Rotary Club’s Memphis PREP program. The program works with talented sophomores and juniors in the Memphis City Schools on their college readiness skills. When I was in high school I had a college counselor and cousins and my mom who had been through the process to help me. These kids don’t have that network.

So what do you do for them?
We have five alumni of the program right here on campus so we got organized and are working with the teens who are the only participants from their high schools. It’s so rewarding to help them with their college applications and essays.

What have you gotten back as a result of your service activities?
You know, when I came here I thought I was headed for a career in city management, but looking at my resume it occurs to me that maybe I should be a teacher. I’m doing some serious thinking about that.

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