Students in Action
Majors: International Relations and Global Affairs and French, Minor: Theatre
Academics and activism come together in this student's Eckerd experience.
Rebecca Richards came to Eckerd wanting to make a difference in the world, and was immediately presented with opportunities that would help make that want more tangible. As Richards notes, Eckerd's Director of Service Learning, Brian MacHarg, "is always interested in assisting students in forming their own service ventures on and off campus." Just this year, Richards herself started an African Interests club "to act as an academic as well as an action-based group." This group was doubtless an extension of Richards' earlier desire to do something about the crisis in Darfur, which led her to organize a four-day event of awareness and fundraising on campus.
"During my three years at Eckerd, I have been able to partake in a variety of different experiences and opportunities. I have participated in a Spring Break service trip to the Dominican Republic, my first experience with a developing country. I have traveled to Ghana on a Winter Term service trip to build latrines in a remote village. I have participated in the Eckerd College Choir, traveling around Florida as well as a 10 day trip to China in the spring of 2007. I was also able to travel the United Nations in Geneva for two and a half weeks with Professor Felice and have briefings and a first hand look at the functioning of UN agencies."
Richards' commitment to political action is also a key component of her academic activities. As an International Relations and Global Affairs major, she studies under recent Florida Professor of the Year, William Felice, with whom she spent two and a half weeks at the United Nations in Geneva getting a "first-hand look at the functioning of UN agencies." It's this merger of personal drive and academic perspectives that leaves a mark on Eckerd students. "Because Eckerd is small," Richards explains, "professors know your strengths and weaknesses and can help you to grow as a scholar."
"My professors and peers at Eckerd have helped me to expand my passion for justice and human rights while still challenging me to question facts I take for granted or the other side of an issue. I have been able to better channel my passion through the numerous volunteer opportunities through Eckerd."
Of course, Richards doesn't neglect the importance of the friends she's made in helping her focus her views on issues and inspire her. It was, she reflects, "the combination of developing a close group of friends who have similar ideas of justice and action and the high quality of my courses and professors" that made her realize that Eckerd was the right place for her. The intimacy of a place like Eckerd means that both your friends and your professors know what you're about, and it's that combination that makes all the difference - in you, and hopefully in the world.