Will Whipple '14

Hometown: Lake Forest, IL
Major: Psychology
Minor: Education & Religious Studies

Academic interests: My particular research interests are very focused on education and how I can become a better teacher. I chose psychology as a major because I knew it would help me better understand group dynamics and how to properly manage a classroom. I was lucky enough to have my senior seminar in deception psychology, which will hopefully allow me to figure out when my future students are trying to lie to me!

For some bizarre reason, I became interested in religious studies in my senior year and it has led me to get my minor in it. Having taken a few classes on Islamic studies, I have become increasingly interested in Islamic theology and Islamic modern thought.

Extracurricular activities: I am on the Social Regulations Council, which has been most of my involvement at Rhodes. I really appreciate that our school holds our students to a higher standard, while also allowing for the students to manage each other rather than having an adult authority handle all the discipline.

I also tutor outside of school and have been tutoring for all four years of college. Working with kids and helping them learn something new or understand something for the first time is probably the most exciting and rewarding thing for me.

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

The story of how I got to Rhodes isn’t too interesting compared to some of my peers. I was looking at colleges in the south because I wanted a new environment. Originally Rhodes wasn’t even on my radar, but when a friend suggested I check it out, I figured I’d give it the old college try. After receiving an amazing tour and realizing how perfect the Rhodes community was for me to develop my social and professional life, I knew I was coming here. It actually was the only school I applied to, and thankfully I got accepted, because I didn’t have much of a backup plan.

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

Changed? I think that is such a hard question, considering I can hardly remember what I was like as a first-year. One defining change has been that I can finally start shaving on a regular basis, which was never the case before (sadly, I still can’t grow a full beard though). I suppose if I had to pick one thing that Rhodes has done for me, it’s that it has taught me to truly appreciate little things in life and the friends around me. Before I came to Rhodes, I didn’t really appreciate my friends and the relationships I formed, but here at Rhodes that has definitely changed, and I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made.

Tell us about your internship in Copenhagen, Denmark, studying atypical education systems.

Copenhagen was easily one of the most defining moments of my college career. Not only was my host family experience unique (having a single father with a autistic son), but also my interaction with the school systems in Denmark was eye-opening. I think the best part of the Danish education system is that, in the eyes of Americans, they don’t care. Their early education was all about independence and letting the kids make mistakes. I watched a three-year-old child make the decision that it was too cold outside and that he was going to put on his “onesie” snowsuit. I honestly can’t think of a school here in America that would: a) let a student outside without a coat in the middle of the winter, or b) let the kid put on their own snowsuit at age three. Even more shocking and hilarious was the idea of a pillow room. It is literally a room filled with pillows and padded walls where no adults are allowed to enter. Can you imagine the craziness that goes on in that room!? I only wish I could have seen the madness that occurred in there.

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?

Teaching has been my goal and my passion ever since high school. I am fortunate enough to have received a job teaching sixth-grade math in Houston. Texas is not my ideal state to live in (sorry to every Texan reading this), but the opportunity to be teaching in the school system there is very exciting. I am actually working for a school system that plans on branching out to Memphis in the 2015 year, which has allowed me to join their Memphis Cohort. I will have the opportunity to spend a year in Houston learning about their system and then be a part of developing a school in Memphis the next year. Hopefully I’ll be back in Memphis working in the education system I know and love.