Faces of Rhodes

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Lauren Avant ′14

Major: Biology
Hometown: Memphis, TN

Extracurricular activities: Rhodes Women’s Basketball, basketball skills and development trainer, middle school boys basketball coach, Special Olympics of Greater Memphis volunteer, Black Student Association, Institute for Healthcare Improvement Club

Research interests: During genetics course: researched cancer with a focus on effective chemotherapeutic agents and avoidance of apoptosis

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes.

I transferred to Rhodes after spending my freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. I was a successful student and member of the women’s basketball team there, but after sustaining numerous injuries, I wanted to be closer to home so I could focus my attention on my overall well-being, all while getting a great education that would prepare me for medical school.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?

I came to Rhodes with plans of attending medical school; but as I delved deeper into the liberal arts curriculum, I began to recognize my other interests and realize that there were other things in life I might want to pursue. Rhodes allowed me to hone my ability to think critically and challenge convention, which led me to seriously consider the opportunities related to my passion for basketball.

Tell us about your experience as a student athlete at Rhodes.

Playing basketball for Rhodes has been an amazing experience. It was really special to be a part of a team that has grown into a national powerhouse in just a few years. Being a student athlete for Rhodes has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life: I’ve made wonderful friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Among the best of those memories is last season when the student section stormed the court after our narrow victory over Louisiana College in our first ever NCAA tournament appearance!  Seeing the stands of Mallory Gymnasium filled with friends, family, and faculty over the last three years has been fulfilling, to say the least. Furthermore, being involved in athletics at Rhodes not only afforded me another opportunity to play the sport that I love, but it provided me with lifelong friendships and mentors. I share a special bond with the teammates I have had over the years; my time at Rhodes definitely would not have been the same without them. Also, numerous coaches in the Rhodes athletics department have become mentors and friends who have aided me along my journey. Balancing athletics with the rigorous academic coursework has also taught me the importance of time management and perseverance.

How has this experience impacted your post-graduation goals?

Since transferring to Rhodes, I have had the opportunity to be part of building a successful women’s basketball program. That, combined with the liberal arts education, has inspired me to think differently and develop the confidence to fully pursue my interests and helped me realize my unyielding passion for basketball. I’ve always loved the sport, but I hadn’t really considered making a profession of it. During my special time as a student athlete at Rhodes, I realized that basketball is something that I want to be a part of for the rest of my life. I am currently applying for graduate-assistant and assistant coaching positions at colleges and universities of all divisions in hopes of becoming a collegiate coach.

How has Memphis impacted your experience at Rhodes and your decision to pursue
a career in basketball?

I left Memphis exactly one week after my high school graduation, and to say that I was ready to leave would have been an understatement. I felt that I’d expended all of the available resources in Memphis and I was ready to begin the next phase of my life elsewhere. It seemed like Memphis wasn’t changing and adapting with other parts of the country. I will admit that I had some hesitancy when returning to attend college in the city that I was once so eager to leave. However, attending Rhodes provided me with a unique opportunity to see Memphis, my home, from a new perspective. I was able to explore different parts of the city that I didn’t know existed. Through the internships and clubs available at Rhodes, I was able to make meaningful connections with different people and communities in all parts of Memphis. These interactions with such genuine people encouraged me to further pursue my passion for basketball. Memphis provided me with the opportunity to put my passion into action and I began working with a group of middle school boys.  This experience opened my eyes to the real potential for having a positive impact on others through the game I love.

(Editor’s note: Lauren Avant was nominated for the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year Award in June 2014. The NCAA will salute the achievements and accomplishments of the top honorees and announce the winner at the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year awards dinner to be held Oct. 19 in Indianapolis. While at Rhodes, Avant rewrote the record books, setting new records for points in a season, free throws made, and points per game average. She also became the newest member of the Rhodes 1,000 point club, finishing at No. 5 on the list with 1,373 total points.)

Compiled by Lauren Albright ‘16

Tags: Biology, Tennessee