Urban Studies Major Emily Hines Transformed by Experiences at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

a young woman with long brown hair smiles at the camera

For Rhodes senior Emily Hines, starting work last year as a digital content strategist for ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was a bit like coming home. As a 16-year-old, Hines herself was a patient at St. Jude, after being diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Eventually, she became one of the spokespersons for the hospital’s mission, giving more than 100 speeches for ALSAC.  

A native of New Orleans, Hines initially enrolled at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, which was closer to home, but, she says, “Rhodes was my number-one choice from the get-go—I had toured Rhodes while I was on chemo.”

Even after treatments, Hines kept her Memphis connections and completed two internships for ALSAC, one working with the innovation team and the other with the marketing operations team. There, she worked on projects such as the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, which is the biggest one-day fundraiser for the hospital.

Hines transferred to Rhodes in the fall of 2019 and began working full-time as a digital content strategist for ALSAC in the summer of 2021. Her work includes organic and paid social media content, creating and updating pages on the St. Jude website, and finding strategic and creative ways for the organization to create content that often is driven by trends and seasonality.

Hines has been in remission for more than five years, but as a former patient she brings a perspective that allows her to communicate a more wholistic picture of St. Jude. “When I was living in patient housing, it turned out to be a sort of cultural exchange,” explains Hines. “I understand that there are global elements important in allowing people to understand who we are as an organization, and in developing a relationship with us through patients’ stories.”

At Rhodes, Hines is pursuing a major in urban studies. “The Urban Studies Program was the perfect combination of what I was trying to achieve through my previous major and minors at Millsaps,” she says. “So many of my credits from Millsaps, such as the intercultural communications class that I took or my nonprofit management class, were applicable for my major here at Rhodes.”

Flexibility has been one of the aspects she most appreciates about the Urban Studies Program. She adds that she has been able to take courses within the program that not only apply to her marketing work at St. Jude, but also engage her beyond it. 

“The entire urban studies department, including my peers, created a learning environment that extends far beyond the classroom. As someone who moved to Memphis from out of state, I am exiting this program as a member of the Memphis community.”

By Tram Truong 24