Faces of Rhodes

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Jennifer Marshall ′14

Hometown: Memphis, TN
Major: Environmental Sciences

Research interests: Animal science, conservation
Extracurricular activities: Green Rhodes, Black Student Association

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes.

I am a native Memphian who had numerous opportunities to get acquainted with Rhodes prior to making my final decision. I attended Snowden Middle School, located right down the street from campus. I also visited Rhodes many times with my Girl Scout troop to swim at the Bryan Campus Life Center. Senior year of high school, my peers and I filmed an act of Shakespeareís Macbeth in the Middle Ground and inside the library. During my junior and senior years of high school I attended overnight multicultural student events, and these experiences allowed me to get comfortable with the Rhodes atmosphere in ways that I couldnít with other campuses that I visited as a prospective student. My parents knew of Rhodes as a wonderful school and secretly hoped that I would consider it as an option. I believe that the reputation of the college, along with its close proximity to home, appealed to them. Rhodes was a choice that everyone was excited about.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes?

I have developed intellectually in ways that I could not have foreseen years ago. My ability to assess and understand the world around me has sharpened and I am more aware of my aptitude and how to better put my talents to use.

Since beginning my studies at Rhodes, I have gained a better idea of what my future looks like, yet I am also able to better accept the uncertainty of it all. I arrived on the Rhodes campus feeling very confused about what I wanted to do with myself. I knew that I enjoyed both helping people and the field of science. I toyed around with the idea of becoming a doctor, or a psychologist, or a musician. Four years later, I am an environmental science major who helps with conservation research at the Memphis Zoo. I have also interned with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, and Shiloh National Military Park during my college career.

Can you tell us more about the research you did at the Memphis Zoo, and how that has impacted your time at Rhodes?

This school year I assisted with the behavioral and biological monitoring of the mating pair of Sumatran tigers. I spent about 10 hours per week conducting research. These 10 hours involved roughly 3 hours collecting behavioral data and 7 hours performing lab work and data input. This required me to be out at the exhibit watching behaviors, but also in the lab processing urine samples. Receiving both field and lab experience has been invaluable.

Because the Sumatran tiger is an endangered tiger species, their presence at the Memphis Zoo is very significant. I participated in monitoring that made a contribution to knowledge that can be applied to wild populations. In the past, I have also performed behavioral monitoring on the African elephants and Nile hippos for Prof. Sarah Boyle.

Prof. Boyle is my academic advisor as well as my research advisor. I took three of her classes, and through these various experiences with her, I became comfortable talking to her about my academic and future goals. Prof. Boyle is also the first person that I ask for recommendations for internships, jobs, and academic programs. Her willingness to help me as an individual by notifying me of opportunities that I would be interested in has been very beneficial. With her guidance, I felt prepared for life after graduation while still completing my college career.

How does Memphis impact your interests and future career goals?

The social climate in Memphis has piqued my interest in urban environments. This is my home, and I find it fascinating to study environmental issues associated with the area. For this, I have future goals of eventually becoming an environmental educator and sharing environmental knowledge and the sense of stewardship with others. In the meantime, I plan to pursue a career in conservation. Memphis has impacted this goal in providing me with the opportunity to perform research at the zoo. I would love to continue the research that I began this past school year with the zoo after graduation. I would also enjoy doing conservation research with zoos and the national parks.

Tags: Environmental Studies and Sciences, Tennessee