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Student Spotlight

Elizabeth Ross ′15

By Lynn Conlee

As a high school student, Elizabeth Ross ′15 invented a breathalyzer for diabetics—a rather auspicious prelude to entering Rhodes in 2011. We wondered how having two years of Rhodes under her belt has changed her.

Rhodes Magazine: Given your invention, many people would assume that you would be a science major, possibly planning to attend medical school. Is that the case?

Elizabeth Ross: It is not the case. I did come into Rhodes pre-med initially. I was the most pre-med person all my life, planning on being a surgeon, so I came into Rhodes taking biology courses and volunteering at different hospitals. Then, I started taking political science courses and being able to study health care through the political science aspect, as well as through my volunteering. I realized that I had a different passion, that I wanted to study the policy of health care. I′ve been able to shift my love of science—or the biology of health care—to the practicality of how I could change the health-care system and fix it and be able to help people through it.

RM: Tell us some ways that your medical and political interests have intersected at Rhodes.

ER: I am on the mock trial team and I started enjoying how I liked arguing. Science forces you to think in a certain reasoned way, that there is one pathway to get to an answer. Through the political science and philosophy and mock trial systems of arguing, you can find any reasoning. Through that logic, I was able to address issues I was seeing in my services sites and in the community.

Most recently, I became a certified ombudsman in the community and I′m a state-certified public advocate for the elderly. I′ve really enjoyed doing advocacy work for the community at Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association. I′ve been looking for something where I could take my interest in the community and see direct change. I work in elderly homes and I make sure they are getting the right quality of life and quality of care. If I find a deficiency, I′m actually contacting the legislators and reporting to the state. So I am creating direct change in the community, which is what I′m really enjoying.

RM: Your many volunteer activities suggest a strong sense of compassion. How do you think that developed in you?

ER: My brother and I have volunteered since we were little. I started volunteering when I was four for something called Pie in the Sky. My mom always said if you have two hands and a heart for something, you can help your community. We just always had the sense of wanting to give and wanting to do whatever we could for the people around us.

RM: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

ER: People make fun of me. I′m a big Post-it Note and color-coder, so 20 years is actually quite planned out! After Rhodes, I hope to go to law school and I′d like to do the naval JAG core and join the Navy. After doing law for the Navy, I want to do health care medicine and policy reform and health care law.

RM: Why the Navy?

ER: The Navy had a big stake in the funding for my research institution in high school that resulted in the breathalyzer. I just believe so much in the Navy.