Faces of Rhodes

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Shelley Choudhury ′15

Hometown: Mount Juliet, TN

Major: Neuroscience

Extracurricular activities: Rhodes Student Government, Peer Assistant, Rhodes College Diplomat, Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa, Nu Rho Psi, Rhodes Singers, Common Table

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

I was that kid in high school with a massive guide to colleges book, complete with color-coded Post-its and an excel spreadsheet. I wanted a college located somewhere warm with small class sizes. I also wanted to be around students with shared interests and a visible zeal for life. Diversity was important to me as well. I wanted exposure to differing backgrounds, political views, and personalities. In the end, my visit to Rhodes on a humid, beautiful summer day made my decision for me. Rhodes satisfied all the requirements on my list, but more importantly, stepping onto the campus felt purposeful. People frequently mention the beauty of the campus, but beyond just its attractiveness, Rhodes feels wholly collegiate. When I enter campus, I feel the wealth of knowledge surrounding me, and that is something truly captivating for me.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?

When I arrived on campus, I think I had a very narrow focus for my goals. I knew that I wanted to be a doctor, and virtually all of my energy was directed at achieving that goal. Since then, I have realized that the world has too much to offer to tune everything out. I have come to understand that learning is far from linear, that the people I surround myself with can mold my learning experience, and that an open mind, open heart, and open eyes can enrich my life so much more than a solely task-oriented focus. The wonderful thing about Rhodes is that I learn in the classroom, but I also learn in internships, office hours, and even walking from one building to another while talking with friends. Finally, I have begun to appreciate the power of stories. Not only can they help me better learn the nervous system, but they can also help deliver sentiment and characterize a situation in unforgettable ways. I still am working towards becoming a physician, but I would like to think that three years at Rhodes has molded me into so much more than the single descriptor of “pre-med student.”

Tell us about why you ran for president of the Rhodes Student Government (RSG).

When I arrived at Rhodes, I knew I loved it. But more than loving it, I wanted a way to feel truly invested in the place that I would spend the next four years. I wished to have a tangible voice in what happened on campus. I had already witnessed the receptiveness of the administration during my first exposures to the campus, so I knew it was a place in which opinions, ideas, and ultimately progress were welcomed--they only needed time, serious thought, and the proper delivery system. As I moved through RSG positions, I realized I had too many ideas, too much passion, and too much motivation to watch someone else at the helm.

What role has the RSG played in your experience at Rhodes?

RSG made Rhodes feel less like an institution and more like a massive family. RSG has allowed me to see that it is much easier to get motivated to help others than it is to do things in your own self-interest. I have been fortunate to have wonderful mentors. These past three years, inspirational people within the organization have really changed the way I operate in RSG and in my daily life. I also learned the value of collaboration. I think a lot of students at Rhodes are high-achieving perfectionists, so it may be difficult for some of us, at first, to have the patience and trust necessary to work easily with others who may have different leadership styles, interests, and experiences. RSG allowed me to watch positive, productive collaboration unfold every week, which has shaped the way I communicate and plan for all aspects of my life.

What is RSG looking to accomplish this year?

The college is having a growth spurt right now. We have growth in numbers, status, pride, involvement, and academics, which is all ultimately wonderful. This year, RSG wants to ensure that this growth occurs as a smooth transition for all students.

From information we have gathered, RSG believes that the next year needs to focus on student academic mentoring. Over the past few years, we have developed a Peer Academic Mentorship program. Now our challenge will be engaging the new students and student body as a whole in this endeavor. In addition, I think RSG will be working to increase collaboration across the campus. Rhodes students are heavily involved and dedicated, but that also means that they have limited time to attend events in which they may be interested. Combining interests and time in collaborative events can only serve to benefit the community, as well as form a better network within the campus. Lastly, RSG wants to expand Rhodes’ influence. This means continuing our progress in better engaging the college into the Memphis community. It also involves more students interacting with people other than Rhodes students, such as alumni, staff, and other college students across the country.

Compiled by Caroline Ponseti ′15

Tags: Neuroscience, Tennessee