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Nancy Hofto, Mother of Meghan ’07 and Laura ’10

 

I had a terrific college experience at the University of Alabama, but my two daughters at Rhodes have topped it. Although I had wonderful friends and a great experience, opportunities to look beyond the self are greater at a small school, particularly Rhodes.

While I never even knew of anyone who studied abroad, Meghan had a wonderful experience at the University of Stirling in Scotland. She took a British literature course that focused on works from the early 1800s, and she traveled throughout Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Laura will take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad, too, after she has decided on her major.

Both already have been involved in service. They have tutored and served as mentors in neighborhood schools, volunteered at the Regional Medical Center, and this year Meghan is coordinating the Tex-Mex trip. I see a tremendous benefit in these activities. Not only do they teach compassion, they help the volunteers come to understand their own strengths and weaknesses.

I have been truly amazed by the relationships between my daughters and the Rhodes faculty. In my day, we went to class and took our notes, but my girls’ experience has gone far beyond that. Meghan has had the opportunity to do hands-on research supervised by chemistry professor Mauricio Cafiero, who has been a wonderful mentor to her. I believe he was even more excited than she was about her acceptance to medical school.

It was not easy for me to let go and allow my girls to make their own mistakes and decisions. Like every other parent, part of me believes they will need the benefit of my wisdom and experience when they are 85! Still, I do not disagree with a single decision they have made, and I know of occasions when they worked through difficult situations on their own with the help of the staff at Rhodes. So we helicopter parents will just have to learn to back off, to give them space and support.

One thing that has made that easier for Mike and me is getting involved in the Rhodes community. We have served on the Parent Council and the Mobile Steering Committee, and we always look forward to the summer send-offs. Through these activities we have gotten to know the Rhodes alumni in this area who are genuinely nice people, whose character and integrity shine through. Plus, they are fun to be around. Every time I am with them I think, “I’m glad my girls are at Rhodes!”