Lauren Rhodes:

Woman of the People


Kathryn Coffey

For a Spanish major and fellow writer for the Decaturian, senior Lauren Rhodes, this year is not so different from any other year. The fact that the people around her are counting down the dates just doesn’t feel real. It wasn’t until she got measured for her cap and gown that reality takes a hold of her.

From the Student Housing Council to UCB to the Decaturian to the Spanish Club, Rhodes has been an active member in improving the lives of the students that come here.

“The beauty of being a part of an organization on Millikin’s campus whether it’s a big one or small one is that there are resources that will help you,” Rhodes said. “They don’t let organizations die down; they’re trying to say, ‘this can be a thing, you just have to work at it.’”

Throughout her Millikin career, she has been heavily involved with many organizations on campus. She’s been a part of UCB since day one of studying here. Although at first, she felt overwhelmed with the responsibility she had, she took her nervousness in stride and finally working toward helping the students achieve the best experience possible. And if there’s anything being a part of all those organizations has taught her anything, it’s not so much as to look fancy as it is to find a way to make a difference. “If you don’t know something, that’s okay,” Rhodes said. “At Millikin, there’s always someone who could help.”

For Rhodes, life at Millikin was one that has a constant need to move on to the next big thing. Sure, it’s nice to appreciate the accomplishments, but glorifying her completed goals has never been her style. However, of all the moments she’s most proud of, presenting her Spanish capstone at the Honor’s Convocation for the Celebration of Scholarships.

In the days leading to the big moment were filled with being stupidly nervous. She made a fifteen-page paper in Spanish to present to a lot of people. Rhodes felt as though when she gets up there, she would forget everything despite the hard work that went into it. Nevertheless, once it was done, she felt very satisfied by the result. She had the information shared, which got people intrigued. But there was much more than that sense of pride she felt that night.

More importantly, sharing what she knows is not why she would call her presentation her biggest accomplishment in her Millikin career. “I call it my accomplishment just for the pure fact that I kind of felt in my element,” Rhodes said. “And I guess I kind of had to learn to accept that I do have skills and not just I’m messing around here. I have acquired the skills to do this.”

But it’s the little moments she will always remember fondly. It would be midnight, and her roommate would go to her and ask, “You hungry?” And from there, it’s eating lots of junk food, giving an excuse to get away from it all. Even without her roommate she would still ask people to eat out with her to escape the stress of school life.

Now that she’s going to be graduating, one question remains. What’s next after Millikin? If you ask her, she’ll jokingly remark that after graduation, she’ll leave Decatur, sleep, and cuddle with her dogs. But besides trying to find a job to pay off her loans, she’ll be taking a family trip to Japan.

In the long term, she hopes to gain experience in working with a local or state politicians, no doubt wanting to make a difference in the world. Until graduation actually happens, she still has some work to do before she can kick back and relax.