Sierra Thompson '15

Hometown: Smyrna, GA 
Major:  Interdisciplinary – Biology, Anthropology/Sociology
Extracurricular activities: GlobeMed, Rhodes College Modern Abolitionists (RCMA), Deaf Literacy Fellow, St. Jude Summer Plus Fellow, Kappa Delta, Tuesday Fellowship, KD Bible Study

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College:

I, like many students here, had no clue about Rhodes College before I applied. A friend of mine from high school who also attends Rhodes told me I should apply because the school has a relationship with St. Jude. She was talking about the St. Jude Summer Plus Fellowship, which really piqued my interest, although I didn’t think I’d actually ever do it (the next year I was accepted into the program, but that’s a different story). I decided to go ahead and add Rhodes to the 10 other schools I had already applied to. My Mom was excited about it, since she read about Rhodes in Colleges that Change Lives. My Dad was not so happy, as he had never heard about Rhodes before . . . now they both tell me constantly how happy they are that I go here.

As I started hearing back from other schools, I began to realize what I really wanted in a college. I finally decided that Rhodes was the place I wanted to be, and all that was left was an official visit. I visited Rhodes for the first and only time the weekend before we had to make our initial deposit. Thankfully, I loved it. I felt right at home and was grateful for the small campus that would allow me to wake up 10 minutes before class and still get there on time, which I’ve done many times since.

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

I think it’s pretty much impossible to be a Rhodes student without getting involved in the things you care about and throwing yourself into different opportunities. Since coming to Rhodes, I’ve refined my idea of what I want my future to look like by just pursuing what I enjoy. I’ve found people who have a passion for both health and justice, and they’ve inspired me to stray from the beaten path of pre-medical studies and take classes I enjoy and find internships that incorporate my interests. So, I guess I’ve changed the most by just trying for opportunities I think I might not get. I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone more than I ever have before, and I’ve had some wonderful experiences because of it.

Which accomplishment are you the most proud of in your time at Rhodes so far?

I would say that I’m most proud of being accepted into the St. Jude Summer Plus International program. I was able to spend last summer working at a hospital in Chile and then spend this academic year and the coming summer at St. Jude in Memphis. Every day I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from and associate with the professionals at St. Jude. I can just imagine what I’d be doing if I had attended a big state school. I wouldn’t be doing anything nearly as remarkable as what I’ve been able to do here.

What is your dream career? In what ways will your Rhodes education help you to achieve this goal?

This will probably only make sense to public health enthusiasts, but my dream career is being Paul Farmer. Look him up. Basically, I want to be a physician and work on public and global health problems. My dream job is to work for Partners in Health or something like Doctors Without Borders and to be a doctor for the poor. I’ve always imagined myself working abroad, and that desire hasn’t gone away, but living in Memphis has opened my eyes to the need we have right here in the United States. I’ve been trying to ignore the draw to stay in Memphis that I think a lot of us feel after coming to Rhodes, but it’s becoming part of my dream now, too. That’s not to say I won’t work abroad, but it would be an honor to come back here after med school and fight for a city with so much potential and so much passion.

The biggest influencer I’ve had at Rhodes to help me figure all this out is definitely GlobeMed. GlobeMed is a nationwide, student-wide organization devoted to partnering with grassroots organizations in order to address health disparities and educate students about health and justice. Through participation and leadership in this organization, I’ve seen firsthand the passion that Rhodes kids are known for having, and I’ve learned so much about what true equitable health care is and isn’t. Before coming to Rhodes I didn’t know how to reconcile my interest in health and justice, but I’ve been able to do that through our GlobeMed chapter. I encourage everyone to get involved in organizations that share their passions, because you’ll develop so much more if you let others influence and inspire you!