Hometown: Southaven, MS
Academic interests: I am extremely passionate about urban education and English literature.
Extracurricular activities: Iota Iota Iota honor society, Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools, tutor
Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.
Going into the spring semester of my senior year of high school, I had been offered generous scholarships from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and Christian Brothers University. I knew that both of these schools were good choices, but despite multiple campus visits, something was still missing. I longed for the close student-teacher relationships that had allowed me to succeed in high school and the opportunity to continue being involved in volunteer work. I found that missing link at Rhodes.
How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?
Coming into Rhodes, I was a freshman who longed to make a difference but didn’t think it was possible in such a big city. I underestimated myself and my ability to be a positive influence in children’s lives. My love for urban education is continuously growing. Since beginning my studies at Rhodes, I have grown more passionate and strengthened my longing to be in the classroom.
Tell us how you got involved in urban education.
I went to high school in Southaven, Mississippi, which is approximately 30 minutes from Memphis. I was involved in a lot of volunteer work in local elementary schools, but my sophomore year, I applied to be a Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters. Acceptance to this program allowed me to begin working for the first time in Memphis, and was my first taste in urban education. I fell in love with it and have devoted myself to this field.
How has your experience at Rhodes helped you to excel in your urban education involvement?
Through Rhodes, I have been offered several unique opportunities with schools in Memphis. I have volunteered at Springdale Elementary and assisted a teacher at Snowden Elementary. I was chosen to write the after-school program as an intern at St. John Elementary and became the after-care teacher once the program was developed. Working at St. John was my first time to hold an independent teaching role in the classroom. Previously, my classroom involvement was limited to tutoring or assisting the teacher. My experience as a leader in the classroom at St. John allowed me to develop the skills to help lower-level elementary students (PK3-1st grade) with their reading and writing (as well as math skills), as those are the main subjects taught and emphasized at this age. The skills that I acquired were synonymous with the skills needed for a person to hold writing conferences at KIPP. Without my time in the classroom at St. John, I may not have been offered the opportunities I now have working alongside teachers at KIPP.
Tell us more about the work you have been doing this semester with KIPP.
KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools is part of the national Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) network of high performing, free of charge, open enrollment, college preparatory public charter schools dedicated to preparing students for success in college and in life. KIPP Memphis has six schools serving more than 1,000 students in the Greater Memphis area. KIPP fundamentally believes that all students WILL learn. Whatever it takes. No excuses.
The work I′ve been doing at KIPP ties in wonderfully with what I′m studying: English and urban education. At KIPP, I work individually with first grade students by holding writing conferences. Through these individual conferences, the students and I work to improve their writing abilities and enhance their creative thinking skills. My work is important because the 21st century student needs more than a high GPA to succeed. Fundamental writing skills and the ability to think creatively are what will set one student, a future graduate, apart from the rest. It is also important to the students because they are creating lasting relationships and receiving individual guidance.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I am applying to several alternative licensing programs, such as Teach for America. Some of the programs that I′m applying for offer a Master’s degree in exchange for teaching a certain amount of years through that program′s designated schools. The schools I have been working with in Memphis work together fabulously with the programs I′m applying for, so I′ve been aware of these post-graduation programs and applications all along.
Compiled by Lauren Albright ‘16