CarlyWill Sloan ′15

Hometown: Round Rock, Texas

Major: Economics

Academic interests: Labor and Development Economics, Education, Memphis

Extracurricular activities: Order of Omega, Rho Lambda, Allocations Board, VP External Relations Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, Peer Assistant, Rhodes College Diplomat, Tennis, exploring the food of Memphis

Tell us the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

My search for the perfect college was full of Excel files, over-analyzed websites, and many school visits. I applied to more than 10 schools, and found myself with a tough decision to make during April 2011. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go out of state—18 years in Round Rock, TX (even though it is home to Round Rock Doughnuts) made me ready for a new adventure. As I was going through the college decision process, I was told over and over again that I would know I had found the right school when I visited and experienced a “feeling” of belonging. At first, I thought this was a romanticized and idiotic reason for choosing a school. But when I visited Rhodes for the second time, I proved myself wrong. Rhodes offered the academic environment I desired, but I chose Rhodes because of the students and professors I met on my visit. Every student I encountered loved their classes and the atmosphere at Rhodes, plus the professors seemed to genuinely care about their students’ successes. I felt at Rhodes I would no longer be just a number, and that I would be challenged and supported by a great academic community situated in a vibrant city. The best part is, my feeling was completely correct.

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

My college years transformed me in areas that I never thought college could reach. Rhodes provided an atmosphere where I could be excited about academics and proudly participate in learning. Although I have always wanted to be a professor, it was not until Rhodes that I realized that economics was perfect for me. Rhodes also taught me the importance of place. My experiences during my Summer of Service in Memphis and during the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies revealed a number of challenges and opportunities in our city that could be understood through economics. For the first time, I realized the importance of work being done in Memphis and in the South through my discussions with city leaders. Through my time in classes, work as a Peer Assistant, Rhodes Diplomat, and a leader in my sorority, Rhodes has helped me develop leadership skills, independence, and a work ethic that I never thought was possible. I find that Memphis and Rhodes did not help me find myself, but rather allowed me to build my confidence and my passion for economics, traits I believe will be invaluable in my future.

Tell us about your research during the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies, and what you gained from it.

Completing my project for the Rhodes Institute is by far my most challenging and gratifying experience at Rhodes. My research focused on the talent pipeline in Memphis, or how we develop, attract, and sustain qualified individuals. My paper paints a picture of interaction between talented high school graduates and businesses and talent organizations in Memphis, revealing many disconnects in Memphis’ market for labor. For a city on the rise like Memphis, it is essential that schools, businesses, and talent organizations work together to develop the most educated and employable workforce it can. While the city is currently known for its talented musicians of the past, Memphis has the potential to be recognized as a source of innovation and talented individuals, right now.

Delving into talent in Memphis was no easy task for me. My summer with the Institute was full of difficult firsts. I conducted my first interviews with Memphis high school graduates and businesses and completed my first extensive research paper. If nothing else, this experience exposed me to the difficulty and rewarding nature of research. I cannot thank my advisor, Dr. Natalie Person, enough for the hours she spent helping mold and construct my research and essay. Some of the most meaningful moments of the summer occurred outside of my individual writing and research. I cherish the dialogue on Memphis I had with my Institute fellows and professors and am still in awe of the opportunities that I had to interact with Memphians through panel discussions and interviews.  I discovered a city full of talented individuals who were in love with Memphis and the city’s possibilities.

My summer introduced me to economics research, allowed me to interact with Memphis, and left me only wanting more. I am forever in love with Memphis because of the people and culture that shape this wonderful city. Discovering and contemplating Memphis helped me construct my own identity as well. Working with Literacy Mid-South, an education non-profit, and conducting my own research through the Rhodes Institute forced me out into Memphis and shaped my academic experience at Rhodes. My Rhodes education would be incomplete without my interaction with this city, and, although I did not choose Rhodes because it was in Memphis, I see now that I should have.

What are your plans for next year?  
I hope to pursue a doctorate in economics in order to achieve my lifelong dream of becoming a professor. I would also love to work in labor economics research.  I am excited to see what the next year brings for my Rhodes peers, even though I am sad to be leaving this wonderful campus, city, and community. Is it too early to say I am thrilled for Homecoming 2015?

Compiled by Ellie Skochdopole ′15