The Rhodes Edge: Jay Chatterjee ’23 Applies Student Leadership in Global Context

a young man from Kolkata, India, smiles at the camera

Economics and international studies major Jay Chatterjee enrolled at Rhodes College in 2019 from Kolkata, India. Now a junior, he enjoys serving the campus community through leadership positions in student organizations. Most notably, Chatterjee is the Vice President of Programming for Culture of Consent, where he helped initiate the Consent Convos series to create events that focus on the ways specific issues regarding rape culture and sexuality impact different groups and communities. He is also involved in Greek Life, writes for Rhodes’ student newspaper, The Sou’wester, and formerly served as the treasurer for Food Network Recovery.  

“I wanted to go to a liberal arts school with an intimate learning environment because I realized I could thrive in such a space. That is what brought me to Rhodes. The stunning campus was another reason. Being involved in different things around campus has helped me put my interests and passions to practical use, whether through writing, raising awareness of issues such as sexual assault, or serving in the community,” says Chatterjee. “Rhodes is a tight-knit community with very opinionated individuals, who debate ideas; while challenging my ideas, my peers have helped enhance them.” 

Chatterjee also works as an International Student Peer Advisor to support and promote the international student community. “My cultural background is a central part of my identity, as it is integral to my value system. I draw on the fundamental values of secularism, love, and diversity from my Indian heritage. At Rhodes, I have become more aware of my identity as a student from India. I have learned to be proud of being different. But this awareness is not an effect of demoralization—instead, it is due to pride from frequent appreciation from my peers and the faculty. Rhodes is a place for you to find your edge and grow and learn to celebrate your unique self. 

“The professors at Rhodes are top-notch in their respective fields,” he adds. “Professors like Dr. Teresa Beckham Gramm and Dr. Nikolaos Zahariadis have helped mold my interest in economic development and foreign policy. Their academic brilliance has opened up new perspectives for me. I think Rhodes is helping me prepare with interesting, cross-sectional classes. I want to work in foreign policy and development, having been influenced by several influential diplomats and journalists in India and worldwide.

The Rhodes Edge is real. That’s helped with my internships and networking. To me, it’s all about bridging the gaps. It is about learning in a smaller, liberal arts environment and then applying what we are learning in a broader, global context.”

Chatterjee has already begun to do just that: in the summer of 2021, through Rhodes, he served as a Policy Research Intern at the University of Macedonia, Greece. He performed research, coding data, and measures related to COVID-19 in the US. This summer, Chatterjee is excited to again intern abroad at Afghanaid in London, England,  as a recipient of a Mertie W. Buckman International Internship Award. 

Tram Truong ’24