Making Summer Count: Rhodes Programs Add Up to Learning, Networking, and Discovery

young adults pointing up at a mural on a building; a blue sky is the background
Rhodes students visiting sites around Memphis

Students don’t always know what they want to do after college, but the glorious summer months can provide them the opportunity to explore different fields while also acquiring new skills. For some students, community service, an internship, or study abroad can even change their lives.

As a Rhodes Summer Service Fellow working for the criminal justice reform organization Just City, Alex McTaggart organized a podcast on the role of sheriffs. Now the history major says, “Working at Just City makes me very passionate about doing something in my future career revolving around the criminal justice system.”

Zaria Jones, another Summer Service Fellow, has been learning about community development through BLDG Memphis. “I am a business and urban studies major, so I was really interested in merging those academic interests.”

Rhodes provides a culture where students collaborate with others, but also are encouraged to be independent thinkers. So it comes as no surprise that students have been making this summer count. According to Academic Affairs, there have been: 

  • 155 students in Rhodes’ summer school courses 
  • 60+ students on official science, arts, humanities, or social science fellowships
  • 40+ students in local health professions fellowships at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Baptist Memorial Hospital, and Methodist University Hospital
  • 26 Summer Service Fellows working at nonprofits across Memphis and in the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies Fellows conducting research pertaining to the Mid-South
  • 26 academic interns working in Memphis as well as international academic interns working in Cape Town, Africa; Mumbai, India; Brussels, Belgium; Chengdu, China; São Paulo, Brazil; and Casablanca, Morocco
  • 37 students studying abroad on other programs
  • 171 students enrolled in 10 Maymester classes, including the Ames Archaeology Field School, Holocaust Seminar in Europe, and Rhodes in London.

New this year, Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies welcomed scholar-in-residence Dr. Ashanté Reese of Spelman College to engage with the program’s fellows. Dr. Kevin Kumashiro, who has published widely on education and social justice, was the scholar-in-residence for Rhodes’ inaugural Urban Education Summer Institute. Summer enrichment programs at Rhodes provide a network of resources. In a recent interview, for example, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital President Meri Armour noted that the Summer Plus program with Rhodes affords students opportunities to form a new set of mentors who can introduce some things not taught in the classroom. 

Summer enrichment activities also can provide renewal and discovery. “Before I left for my trip to Kelly, Wyoming, I was anxious about the things I had coming up in my senior year at Rhodes and my plans for post-grad,” says Katherine Hancock, who participated in programs in both Wyoming and London. “Traveling, however, forced me to be more present where I was. In Wyoming, I was surrounded by such astounding natural beauty that it helped me realize that I have much more time to accomplish my goals. Studying away and abroad this summer shifted my perspective and showed me that I need to slow down sometimes in order to make the most of my everyday life. It was just the breath of fresh air that I needed as I look forward to my last year at Rhodes College.”