Alexis Jackson ′15

Hometown : Shreveport, Louisiana

Majors: Political Science, Greek and Roman Studies

Academic interests: I am interested in studying law, particularly cultural heritage or antiquities and art law. I am very interested in the legalities of handling ancient archaeological artifacts from different countries and cultures in museums and private collections. However, my first step is getting into law school and seeing what different opportunities are there.

Extracurricular activities: Rhodes Activities Board, Delta Delta Delta Sorority, Rhodes College Diplomat, Rhodes College Fellow at the New Ballet Ensemble & School, dance instructor at the Memphis Jewish Community Center

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

I’m from a relatively small place and went to a small Catholic school. When I was originally looking at colleges, I wanted to go to a big university in a big city that was close to home so I could finally be a “number,” but still have the ability to go home on the weekends. However, a friend of mine suggested that I look at Rhodes because he thought I would like it. He and I took Latin together in high school, so he thought I would like the Greek and Roman Studies department. I came to tour with my parents and completely fell in love with the campus, the community atmosphere, and the many opportunities that the city of Memphis has for young people.

You’re a Greek and Roman studies and political science double major. How did you become interested in such distinct fields of study?
I have always had a passion for Roman and Greek mythology, so I started taking Latin in high school and really fell in love with the powerful Roman culture. Originally, I was not going to study the Classics in college. I thought I had to do something more practical. However, Dr. Bakewell from Greek and Roman studies was my Search professor freshman year, and he encouraged me to try a class in the department. I really enjoyed the classes and the uniqueness of the department. It is one of the smaller departments at Rhodes, but that really gives all of the majors a chance to really get to know each other and the professors very well, which is always extremely helpful. Studying the Classics gives one the skills to research problems in ways that many other disciplines do not. Moreover, these skills are what really allow Classical studies majors to be successful beyond college—contrary to popular belief.
When it comes to political science, I have always been interested in government and politics, so I decided to try out a few classes in that. Again, I really, really enjoyed the courses as well as seeing a view of politics that I had never really gotten back home in Louisiana. I’ve had some of my hardest classes in political science. I really enjoy not only the challenge, but also being able to explore ideas that really make me question ideas and study issues that are extremely relevant to today’s society. It’s easy to come into a class with your own opinions or ideas, but the key to really being successful is gaining the ability to understand different perspectives on an idea. This type of deeper learning and understanding has allowed me to see politics, government, and the ideas of political scientists in a whole new way and make more informed decisions on how I want to live.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes College?

I spent a good part of my childhood studying classical ballet and also suffering from Crohn’s disease. So if I wasn’t spending my day at school and at the dance studio, I was oftentimes sick and in and out of the hospital. I was used to being surrounded by a small group of people for 18 years, which included my dance friends, my parents, and my doctors. Initially, I was very nervous about going away from home and away from my comfort zone. I spent a lot of my freshman year feeling homesick and anxious about really branching out in college and in the city. However, I joined Rhodes Activity Board (RAB) and Tri Delta my freshman year. Through these organizations, I found an amazing group of people who helped me to not only see the potential in taking risks, but also to find a leadership potential in myself that I did not realize I had. I am so happy that I let myself take the risk in doing things outside of my comfort zone. 

Rhodes has such a strong community in both student life and administration. From freshman year to senior year, I have encountered nothing but positive support. The community here at Rhodes really allows you to become a stronger person. Rhodes is hard academically, but it also allows you the chance to take on larger responsibilities while at the same time providing mentors to guide you along the way. This has allowed me to grow into the person I am today.

You’re now president of RAB. Can you talk about RAB’s goals for this academic year? 
RAB is trying to really rebrand how we do events this year. We are also making our events a lot more transparent to students. First of all, we’re attempting to do fewer solo events and more events in conjunction with other groups and departments on campus such as RSG, The Pack, The Big Diehl, The Little Diehl, Lecture Board and Disability Services.  We are also having open meetings for the entire campus the first Monday of the month, so that all students have the opportunity to contribute to the Rhodes Activities Board and have their voices directly heard. This way we can provide students with events that they actually want. Moreover, this year we have opened up the planning of Rites of Spring to the campus by providing all the information on how we plan the concert. 
RAB is such a special organization because we are given the chance to impact the college experience in a way that academics often cannot. College is about so much more than what you learn and who you learn it from. It’s about the memories you make outside the classroom. RAB hopes to be able to provide this for students and give the campus an opportunity to do something that they probably never would have done had they not come to Rhodes.

Compiled by Emily Clark ‘15