Rhodes President Speaks in Chapel

Mrs. Jennifer M. Collins, the 21st president of Rhodes College, spoke to the MUS community today, noting the strong connection between the two schools, including nine faculty alumni and 15 students currently enrolled at the Memphis liberal arts school. She told how Halliburton Tower on the Rhodes campus, where her office is located, is named for world adventurer and writer Richard Halliburton, MUS Class of 1915.
Describing her journey to college president as unconventional – history degree from Yale, law degree from Harvard, and a career that included serving as a homicide prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and 20-plus years in academia – she encouraged the boys not to limit options, offering three tips as they look forward to college:

Lesson 1: “It is OK not to have it all figured out. I would urge you to choose a college that lets you explore many different subjects, that gives you many different options for a major and doesn’t lock you into one field upon admission. … The most important thing you can do in college is to learn to adapt, be flexible, solve problems, and be excited about being a lifelong learner. Liberal arts colleges like Rhodes will help you do that.”

Lesson 2: “Do anything you can to strengthen your writing and oral presentation skills while you’re still in high school to be the best communicator you can possibly be. … MUS gives you so many opportunities to do that. Join Mock Trial, be a Student Ambassador, or do debate – anything to get practice in public speaking. Take every writing class you possibly can. Take all those criticisms and all that red ink you get from your teacher to heart.”

Lesson 3: “In a world where you can be anything, the most important thing you can be is kind. People say unbelievably awful things to each other on social media just to generate attention and get likes. Don’t be that person. Instead, be the person who invites the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria to join your table. Be the person who asks the classmate who is looking down if they’re OK. Be the person who pays a compliment for the job well done, who shares the credit liberally and accepts the blame gracefully. Be the person who treats everyone you meet with the same level of kindness, compassion, and respect whether they are the janitor or the headmaster, the fast-food worker or the CEO,” she said.

“Be the person who serves the community in whatever way is most meaningful to you, whether that is being a tutor, volunteering in a homeless shelter, or delivering Meals on Wheels. Be the person who builds bridges between your classmates rather than the person who creates divides.”

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