Hometown: Millington, TN
Academic Interests: Psychology, Religious Studies
Extracurricular Activities: Clarence Day Scholarship Program, Director of Lynx Club, Special Olympics of Greater Memphis volunteer, Peer Assistant, Rhodes Stewardship Student Associate, Chi Omega, Senior Gift Committee, Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board
Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.
Growing up near the college, I was close enough to know about the beautiful architecture of the campus. Only later would I learn about the community of Rhodes. When my older brothers began attending, the uniqueness of that community quickly became apparent to me. I appreciated the ideas of small classrooms, students from all across the country, and meaningful involvement in the larger Memphis community. It was not until my official campus tour, after both of my brothers had graduated, that I could see myself as a Rhodes student. After that tour, I felt like there was no other place I could see myself.
How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?
My experiences at Rhodes have challenged me to grow as a person, as a learner, and as a member of the Memphis community. Entering Rhodes, I expected to have difficult course work and to spend a lot of time studying. Those expectations were quickly met and exceeded. However, the things I did not prepare for have had quite the impact on my college experience. I could have never imagined forming friendships with people who come from all over the country and who appear to be so different from me. I never would have thought that I would spend hours talking to professors outside of the classroom or that I would run into them out in Memphis. Now, these things are a given. At Rhodes, I have come to appreciate the liberal arts education and the community that forms as a result of living and learning together.
How has your Clarence Day Scholarship influenced your time at Rhodes?
Clarence Day was a kind-hearted man and philanthropist who loved the city of Memphis. Because of his generosity, I have been able to grow alongside a passionate group of young Memphians who make up the Clarence Day Scholarship Program. This program, along with my general Rhodes experience, has allowed me to become a part of the Memphis community. My time as a Clarence Day Scholar has given me first-hand experiences with Memphis businesses, non-profit organizations, and with the public school system.
Each Day Scholar is expected to complete a project during his or her time at Rhodes. Day Scholars are funded to the level of $5,000 to organize and complete these projects. The projects are created on an individual basis, incorporating each Day Scholar’s passions and abilities into a service fellowship or internship in the Memphis community. For my project, I chose to work with the Director of Special Olympics Greater Memphis to create a summer camp for the Special Olympics athletes, to be held here on our campus. The first camp took place in July of 2013, and the second followed this past summer. We plan on making this a continuing program.
Tell us about your involvement with Special Olympics.
When I entered Rhodes during the fall of 2011, I began participating in Lynx Club, which is a student-led organization that meets every Thursday night in the campus gym. Lynx Club is directly affiliated with Special Olympics of Greater Memphis, with a weekly program that focuses on unified recreational sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Through Lynx Club, I began getting to know many of Memphis’ Special Olympics athletes and their families. It has been so rewarding to have spent almost four years building relationships with the athletes and meeting new ones along the way.
Besides participating in our weekly Lynx Club program, I have found myself jumping into the freezing Mississippi River during the Polar Bear Plunge, dancing on the top floor of Clark Tower at the Special Olympics holiday parties, and eating way too much Central BBQ with the athletes. Special Olympics is such a wonderful aspect of Memphis, and it has allowed me to see how genuine and caring the Memphis community truly is.
By Caroline Ponseti ′15