Elizabeth Ross ′15

Hometown: Orlando, Florida 
Major: Political Science and Greek and Roman Studies
Minor: Urban Studies

Research Interests: Urban Education and the Public Advocacy for the Elderly

Extracurricular activities: Rhodes College Diplomats, Resident Assistant, Delta Delta Delta, Mock Trial Team, Lecture Board, Up ‘Til Dawn Executive Board, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Volunteer, Boys and Girls Club Volunteer, and MIFA Volunteer Ombudsman Program Intern

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

Senior year I was sitting in my guidance counselors’ office with Post-its galore decorating my lists and charts of different colleges that I was thinking about applying to. I was telling her that I wanted a school with a large campus feel but in a smaller setting, somewhere that offered a variety of research and volunteer opportunities to all levels of students and was in an active city. She literally pointed at a poster of Rhodes and told me that I should consider it, seeing as it met all of the requirements I was looking for in a school. Within a couple of weeks, I was in Memphis and touring the campus and it literally felt like home. I was immediately welcomed by the Bonner Center, which showed me the opportunities students have to participate throughout Memphis. As a prospective student, I also went out to dinner with a group of girls that would one day become my sorority sisters and friends, who shared how much they loved Rhodes. I knew I wanted to be a part of the Rhodes community because I got to see all that the campus has to offer and how much each student values it.

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

I entered Rhodes as a student who had an extremely wide variety of interests, especially when dealing with matters of community service. It was not until my involvement with the Bonner Program and Mock Trial, and exposure to the Political Science Department, that I was able to channel my science and engineering mentality. After taking different Political Science classes, I began to see how much I enjoy learning the foundations of politics and the logic and rationality within policies, as well as the influence of philosophical principles, and dissecting the actual applications in modern political structures. The combination of Political Science classes and my Mock Trial participation challenged me to analyze and reason differently than I had before and see my unrealized love for the “art of argument!”

In the summer of 2012, through the Bonner Program, I was fortunate enough to spend two and a half months of service in New Delhi, India, teaching English, math and Hindi to children. The experience that I had teaching and traveling in that nation was unforgettable, and I am wholeheartedly grateful every day to have had that opportunity. My service in India and continued volunteer efforts in the Memphis community have changed how I perceive and question government responsibility, and how policy initiatives successfully address urban issues, needs, and failing systems.

Recently, I have been able to combine my passion for service and helping others and my interest in the law with my current position as a Volunteer Ombudsman. I would have never imagined myself being able to advocate for the elderly and champion their standard of care and residents rights by visiting the nursing home facilities and contacting legislators.

Tell us more about your past invention of the breathalyzer for diabetics. Has there been more progress on the breathalyzer? What exactly does this breathalyzer do?

The breathalyzer is intended to increase the accuracy of glucose analysis as well as reduce the invasiveness and costs of standard blood glucometers that diabetics typically rely upon to measure their glucose levels. This method of testing breath, as compared with blood sugar, focuses on acetone levels of glucose in a person’s breath and allows an enhanced analysis that is incorrectly detected with blood glucometers. It detects breath glucose when the individual breathes into the device, displays the numeric value on a lighted screen, and holds the data for the previous glucose values of the specific individual user (they can be diabetic type 1, type 2, hyperglycemic, hypoglycemic, or a healthy individual—user friendly for anyone!) The progress on the device has been focused on improving design features and determining the best materials for feasible mass implementation.

It seems that you have many academic passions—ranging from Mock Trial to community service to diabetes research. What do you see yourself doing after graduation?

After graduating Rhodes, I hope to attend law school and join the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps as a lawyer focusing in Administrative Law, Intelligence Law, or Civil Litigation. 

Compiled by Emily Sullivan