New Jersey native Jada Myricks ’19 chose Rhodes not only for a change of pace from the East Coast, but also for Rhodes’ active relationship with Memphis. “I wanted to go somewhere that was smaller, but had a bigger presence in the city,” she explains. As for the culture shock of moving so far from home, Myricks says it’s been surprisingly positive: “There’s something about the campus and the people here that makes them seem to want to listen and hear each other out.”
Myricks surprised herself as well, as she’d never thought that she’d be interested in taking on leadership positions. “At first I had no idea I would engage so much with Rhodes,” she says. “The person you see here is not the person I was when I got here.” Myricks admits to being timid and shy at first, preferring to remain in the background. Now, as the president of the Black Student Association (BSA) and a former senator for Rhodes Student Government (RSG), Myricks has found her voice and is eager to use it.
Myricks’ growth and change didn’t happen overnight, though. A balanced mixture of encouragement and time helped her to flourish. Her journey to presidency of the BSA began with her involvement in RSG as a senator for the class of 2019. Myricks names Jay Hedges ’17, the 2016-2017 president of RSG, as someone who encouraged her to run for senator, noting, “He inspired me to want to be a leader.” When the larger national political issues last November led to some students expressing concerns for the future, Myricks teamed up with Hedges and then RSG Vice President Thomas Mitchell ’18 to figure out how best to reassure their fellow students. The three drafted a proposition and presented it to the Rhodes administration, which promptly showed their support for the students’ voices and concerns.
Myricks cites her time as senator as one in which she not only grew confident in her voice, but also learned the different resources available to students. All student organizations can request funding from the Allocation Board for their events, whether it is for Diwali or Prom for All or BSA’s Annual Pool Party. And while these events are important and fun, Myricks has more than cookouts and flip-flops on her mind. She hopes to work on the underdeveloped annex space located next to the McCoy Theatre. With a little love and elbow grease, the sizable trailer has the capacity to become a great space for multicultural students.
When Myricks isn’t taking charge, she’s studying biology and physics. She hopes for a career as a biomedical engineer, working specifically to help develop cheaper medical equipment, such as prosthetics, for low-income communities.
But, says Myricks, during her two years left at Rhodes, the BSA will remain a focus. “BSA is like family to me and has supplemented my education in ways I never imagined. I do not think I would have felt as empowered and comfortable as I do at Rhodes without BSA.”
By Swaneet Mand ‘18