John Pevy ′11
John is a senior history major and first-generation college student from Knoxville, TN. Although he lives on campus, he spends a lot of time in the Memphis community. A dedicated advocate for the homeless, John speaks eloquently about his profound connections with the people he serves. He chose the history major because it allows for interdisciplinary study, and he′s planning to apply to law school. John sings with Rhodes’ male a cappella group, Woolsocks, and he′s taking formal voice lessons for the first time. When he needs a break, he plays disc golf at Shelby Farms with friends. John appreciates that Rhodes has been "true to its word" in offering him the opportunity to be a service scholar and pursue his passion to make the world a better place.
What does your senior year look like?
Well, my academic focus has been Latin American History, but this semester I’m taking a course on the Vietnam War, and it’s been really great. I’m doing a project on the cinematic representation of the war, which has been a lot of fun to research because I get to watch a number of good films. Next semester I think I’m taking the ”Infinite Border” class, studying the history of the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
I’m taking only three classes this semester so I could write applications. Earlier this semester I applied for the LUCE postgraduate fellowship with a written proposal to work on urban poverty projects in Southeast Asia.
Where did you develop an interest in urban poverty?
I do community service through the Bonner Scholars program with the homeless in Memphis. I helped found Advocates for the Homeless my freshman year, then I was coordinator of the soup kitchen sophomore year. When you get to know people on the street, you realize that it’s very difficult to get off the streets.
For example, a lot of homeless benefits are predicated on the basis of having a mailing address to mail government checks to, and if you’re homeless, procuring an address can be extremely difficult. A lot of that is because of policy, so I think someday writing policy might be a possible career goal.
As a senior looking into graduate programs and fellowships, do you have any advice for prospective students?
I applied to a good number of schools, but when I came to visit for the Bonner Scholar selection weekend, I saw that the people were just great and the campus was gorgeous. I still had my reservations about everything because I knew it was really expensive, but Rhodes gave me a very manageable financial aid package. Because I’m a first generation college student, that was really important for my family.
There’s a level of personability here that you won’t find anywhere else. I’m someone who really likes face-to-face contact, so that was really key for me. I get to know my instructors on more than just the level of “oh, you teach math,” you know?
When I was writing my LUCE application, I had 12 drafts of my personal statement, and there were professors who read every draft and gave feedback on all 12 of them. Those are the kinds of things that help you to be successful, and that’s definitely one of the unique things about being here.