Chigozie Emelue ′15

Hometown: Memphis, TN (originally from Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria)
Major: Psychology

Research interests: I am currently doing research for the psychology department on service learning and its link to community and student development.

Extracurricular activities: Kinney Coordinator for Special Services, Bonner Scholar, volunteer for the Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

Having an older sister who was due to graduate from Rhodes in 2013, I had been exposed to the Rhodes environment before I had even started to think about college. While I was still in high school, I had participated in Rhodes’ Mid-South Model United Nation conferences, played basketball in the BCLC, and attended campus events. I felt comfortable at Rhodes, and had begun to see the college as a sort of second home. When it came time for me to consider schools, it was easy for me to visualize myself in the Rhodes environment. Unfortunately, I knew it would be difficult for my family to afford a college education for my two older sisters, my twin brother, and myself. While I was looking for financial assistance, my sister told me to apply for the Bonner Scholarship. By the grace of God, I was accepted into the program, and the rest is history.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?

The liberal arts education I have received at Rhodes, combined with the service learning structure of the Bonner program, has changed the way I see the world in the best way possible. Although I am a psychology major, I can say that it is the religious studies courses, the philosophy courses, and other foundational courses that have challenged how I approach my learning in and out of the classroom. From my service experiences with the Refugee Empowerment Program, BRIDGES, Special Olympics of Greater Memphis, and the Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee, I have learned how to engage communities from a human rights perspective. Service has become a major part of my experience, and it is something that I plan to pursue for the rest of my life.

Tell us more about your summer service fellowship at the Exceptional Foundation.

The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee works to enrich the lives of those who are intellectually and developmentally challenged. Working as a full-time program assistant intern, I was able to create and facilitate programming for the participants, learn about the limitations and efforts of a nonprofit in Memphis, and most importantly, take time to understand the population that I have grown to love serving.

How will your experience with the Exceptional Foundation contribute to your academic career?

My intent is to graduate with a major in psychology and go on to study occupational therapy.  My work at the Exceptional Foundation gives me the exposure necessary to focus on courses needed for achieving my career goals. Knowing that I want to work with a developmentally challenged population, I am able to see clear connections with my academic career and my service opportunities. It has become easier for me to implement what I have learned in class in my real life experiences, and I am also able to bring new knowledge from my experiences back to the classroom.

Compiled by Lauren Albright ′15