Peter Ketch ′14

Hometown: Dallas, TX
Major: Neuroscience 

Academic interests: Disorders of the nervous system, mechanisms of drug action, substance abuse disorders, healthcare improvement efforts

Extracurricular activities: Social Media Analyst Student Intern for the Rhodes College Office of Admission, Co-director and Studio Manager for Rhodes Radio, Editor for The Rhodes Journal of Biological Sciences, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Rhodes College Diplomat, Member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and anything outdoors—especially mountain biking.

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

I knew within the first 15 minutes of my tour of the school that I would be coming to Rhodes.  I fell in love with the strong sense of community right away and knew it would be a place I could grow academically. I was amazed to hear how involved each student was at school and in the larger Memphis community. They were busy with so many exciting experiences and, for someone who hates sitting still, that was extremely exciting. Ultimately, Rhodes seemed like the perfect place to attain my idea of the “complete” college experience: a challenging neuroscience major, close faculty/mentor relationships, research experience, internships, Greek life, and the rich culture of a historic, Southern city.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes? 

Rhodes has provided me with the perfect environment to grow and mature into a “real life adult.”  I have had the opportunity to learn about some amazing topics with a depth I never would have imagined, both within and outside of my major. With guidance from dedicated and contagiously passionate professors, I have developed a strong desire to be a lifelong learner, to ask the tough questions, and to think critically about anything and everything. While studying abroad on the International Experience in Healthcare program, sponsored by Rhodes, I conducted research at a pediatric hospital in Nicaragua and learned all about surgical sterilization, waste management, physician hygiene, and other infection and disease prevention measures. This experience gave me an invaluable perspective of a healthcare system very different from our own and helped me to better understand some global health disparities. Outside of the classroom, I have had the opportunity to form lifelong friendships, eat some delicious food, and hear some incredible music.

Tell us about the research you’ve conducted in the chemistry department while at Rhodes. How has that influenced you?

For the past several semesters I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Kimberly Brien, along with other student researchers, on an organic synthesis project aimed at creating an analog of a drug currently used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). The promising anti-cancer properties of this compound have made working to synthesize it that much more exciting. I was honored to receive the first place presenter award at the American Chemistry Society (ACS) Strengthening Bonds Undergraduate Symposium, held at Rhodes last year. I am also extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to present our poster at the 247th ACS National Meeting in Dallas, TX. Overall, this experience has inspired me to maintain a close relationship with scientific research as I continue into a medical career, and has given me an immense appreciation for everyone conducting all sorts of cutting-edge research around the world.

What are your plans after graduation? 

In June, I will begin the Healthcare Administration Internship at Methodist University Hospital under the supervision of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Womeodu. I am beyond excited to have been accepted for this position. This experience will give me an opportunity to learn about the day-to-day operations of a medical center and some of the effects of recent healthcare reform, and to be a part of some exciting healthcare improvement initiatives. Also, I am looking forward to being able to call myself a Memphian for another whole year, and I can’t wait to explore more of the city.

Compiled by Caroline Ponseti ’15