Hometowns: Sherman, TX and Greenville, TX
Current Residence: Dallas, TX
Where have your Rhodes educations taken you since graduation?
Leah: My father was a liberal arts administrator, so I grew up in a family where a liberal arts education was greatly valued, versus a specialization. Rhodes really prepares people for being able to do a lot of writing, and really diversifies peoples’ skill sets. I am in human resources now after being a financial analyst for a number of years. One thing I have noticed from my career experience is that liberal arts hires are more flexible and are better communicators than non-liberal arts graduates.
Eric: The liberal arts education and the Rhodes environment really teach students to think on their own. I worked in the restaurant industry after graduating from Rhodes, which ultimately led to me getting interested in wine. That, in turn, led to me getting into the wine industry, which ultimately ended up becoming my career. Had I not gone to Rhodes and developed an ability to explore multiple interests and to think for myself, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in this line of work. I am pleased to say I absolutely love what I do.
Tell me about how you met.
Eric: We met at a Rhodes alumni function in Dallas.
Leah: BBQ and Business Cards.
Eric: It was a networking event, and was at the home of a close personal friend of Leah’s from college and high school. I had decided that it was time for me to start attending some of the alumni events and get more involved. I met Leah and some of the other people in the Dallas area who were alumni that I didn’t know. We ended up talking about our occupations, and that’s when they found out I was in the wine industry and realized that I had a lot of close connections to restaurants in the Dallas area.
Leah: I remember exactly where it was that a few other alumni chapter board members and I approached you. It was in Sarah’s kitchen.
Eric: They asked if I would be interested in working to help with the planning and location selection for some of the alumni events. So, I agreed, and Leah and I ended up working on the board together for about two years. We both decided to resign from our positions around the same time, and ended up staying in touch, dating, and getting married earlier this year!
Were there any Rhodes alumni in your wedding party?
Eric: My best man, Kelly, was in the class of ’99. He was a senior when I was a freshman and was the president of Kappa Sigma. He’s a Memphis native and is now the president of the Rhodes Alumni Association. We became really close friends after I graduated. Besides him, we had several other Rhodes alumni in attendance at our wedding.
Do you think a Rhodes degree should be a prerequisite for a marriage partner?
Eric: Well, I don’t know, it’s worked out for us! Not a prerequisite but definitely a benefit!
What impact do the two of you hope to have on the Rhodes community?
Leah: I think both of us had such wonderful experiences at Rhodes, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Since Rhodes has been such a big part of our lives, I would hope that both of us would continue to be engaged – financially and personally. We would like our impact to be one of contribution.
Eric: We make a point to attend events that the alumni association puts on, and that gives us a good opportunity to share our experiences and network with students.
Aside from the potential to meet a future spouse at an alumni function, what is the value of maintaining a strong post-grad connection with the Rhodes College community?
Leah: I think that the ability to connect with people who weren’t there at the same time or who weren’t involved in the same groups, after Rhodes, is so valuable. Rhodes people really tend to gravitate toward each other, just based upon a common core fundamental aspect of their lives.
Eric: We’ve experienced that time and time again at alumni events. You just share so many common experiences regardless of generational differences, and regardless of the way the culture has changed at Rhodes. There is a unique, core experience that Rhodes students have. We have a lot of friends who went to state schools, who are blown away that Rhodes College alumni still have such a tight connection and view their college years as such a positive, deeply formative time.
Interview by Isabelle Campbell, Rhodes College ′15