Lauren Kennedy ’08
Flower Mound, TX
When I was looking for a liberal arts college, Rhodes′ small size and strong reputation made it stand out. And then I came to visit. The campus is gorgeous, so I think I was a little enchanted by that, but everything just felt right when I got here. Getting a scholarship influenced my decision, too. I′m not sure I would have been able to come without financial aid.
The faculty here is wonderful, and I feel very lucky. One of my first art history classes was with Professor Victor Coonin, and I think he′s one of the reasons that I′m pursuing a degree in art history. When your professor is passionate about the subject, it′s easy for you to appreciate the course and be passionate too. And I really like that all my professors know me by name. In fact, I′ve had numerous professors I have cared for personally and been friends with outside of the classroom. I will go to their offices and just talk, and when I have a problem or need a reference or want to make a contact somewhere else, I know I can go to them.
I′ve also been very influenced by the CODA program (Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts). I was one of the first students accepted into the program, so I′ve seen it evolve and been part of that process. Our goal is to make the arts a presence on campus. Even though most people may not think of Rhodes in terms of the arts, there′s a lot of talent on this campus, and there′s a lot to be said for developing that kind of community here. For example, at the CODA 2007 spring arts event in Fisher Garden, it was wonderful to see the way different elements of the artistic community—theater, music and the visual arts—play off of each other. We discovered how they really work together and add to each other. And it was great to be able to create such an inclusive artistic environment and showcase student art.
CODA has introduced me to people and given me insight into the industry in which I want to be involved. And it has afforded me opportunities that a lot of undergrads won′t have. I have now curated two shows, and for my senior CAP (community art project) I am working downtown with the Center City Commission, installing local artists′ work in vacant buildings on Main Street. It′s a great project that people in the "real world" have been working on for a long time, and I′m the one that’s bringing it to fruition!
Being in CODA also helped me connect with the Boston University program in Paris that I attended in fall 2006. Paris was magic! It was where I grew up. It was the first time I′ve been totally independent. It was a sink-or-swim situation, and I swam. That′s something I′ll always be very proud of. I tried different things, met different people, spoke a different language. And when you start to develop a routine, you meet people along the way. I studied for six weeks at the university and then interned for six weeks at Sotheby′s. That was incredible. Ever since I′ve been interested in art history, I have dreamed of working at Sotheby′s. And in Paris the arts are part of the culture in a way that they aren′t here. They extend past artists and gallery owners to an entire community, an entire city. People in Paris can access the arts the way they want, on their own terms, and I think that is something to strive for at Rhodes and even in Memphis.
My experiences at Rhodes will be invaluable to me in whatever I pursue after graduation. I want to continue my studies past my undergraduate experience, but I see myself coming back to Rhodes and working with the art department and with CODA. I′d like to be a resource to other students who are in the position I′m in now.