NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Mariah Rhodes always wanted to be a “change agent,” to fight the injustices she saw growing up in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. And Tennessee State University is giving her the opportunity to make a difference.

Mariah Rhodes

“I witnessed many wrongful convictions and disparities in education while growing up as a child in Memphis,” says Rhodes, a top political science student at TSU. “I knew right then that I wanted to be a change agent because the injustices and disparities affected my family, friends and many others.”

To accomplish her dream, Rhodes says she set her sights on becoming a lawyer and eventually entering politics as an elected official focusing on education and criminal justice reform. Coming to TSU, therefore, was no accident, she says, because the university was centrally located in the “political capital” of the state, with some of the best schools, and it is closer to home.

“I am a mama’s girl. I am really closed to my mother. So, a college for me had to be three hours away or less so I can quickly get back home in case of an emergency,” says Rhodes, the older of two children raised by their single mother.

Mariah Rhodes participates in student convocation as a member of the Student Government Association. (TSU Media Relations)

“Second, as a political science major, I was looking for a school that offered the best opportunity that I can get for my future and my career. And, the state capitol is located in Nashville. Then I started looking at campus life and I fell in love with TSU. There are so many events, so many opportunities for minorities.”

Saying that coming to TSU was the best choice, the former academic standout at Power Center Academy High School graduated fourth in her class with a 3.93 grade point average and received more than $3.8 million in scholarship offers.

Mariah Rhodes, with her sister, Brianna Mason, left, and mother Denise Woods, received more than $3.8 million in scholarship offers when she graduated Power Center Academy. (Submitted photo)

“I had many opportunities to go to many other schools with full academic scholarships. I chose TSU because that was the best place that was home to me,” she says. “The family atmosphere – people willing and ready to help. The professors, advisors motivate me. Once they see that you are trying, they will take you under their wings, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.” 

Rhodes has adjusted well and proven to be an overall outstanding student. Advisor and professor, Dr. Kyle Murray, refers to Rhodes as “one of the top students in the Political Science degree program at TSU.”

“Mariah has thrived in the program and set an outstanding example of discipline and leadership among her peers,” says Murray, assistant professor of political science. “ Not only is Mariah one of the top current Political Science majors, her natural leadership skills have been exemplified by her service on the Student Court, and as TSU’s official ambassador to the White House HBCU Summit.”

A former Miss Freshman and currently TSU Student Court Chief Justice, Rhodes is an HBCU White House Competitiveness Scholar. She is an honors intern with the U.S. Department of Justice. Although numerous, her extracurricular activities clearly exhibit her quest for knowledge and to be the best. With a 4.0 GPA, Rhodes is a member of the TSU Honors College, Golden Key International Honor Society, a graduate of the TSU Collegiate Police Academy, and president of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity International, among others.

“Mariah is a natural born leader, academically talented and committed to inspiring her peers,” says Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, one of the people Rhodes credits with her success at TSU.

“She is the essence of Tiger perfection,” adds Stevenson.

Rhodes’ proven leadership skills and desire to bring out the best in others have followed her from her days at Power Center Academy. At TSU, she mentors fellow students. A former vice president of Modern Distinctive Ladies, a girls’ mentoring program at Power Academy, Rhodes is still actively engaged in the program at her former school.

“I love to help because I know how difficult it can be sometimes, besides many have helped me, and I am so grateful. I am just trying to give back, and I look forward to doing even more in my future career,” says Rhodes. After college, Rhodes says there is a “strong chance” she may stay in Tennessee for law school.

For more information on the TSU Political Science program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/history/polisci.aspx

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