Ozakh Ahmed (Rhodes Community Liaison), is a senior Psychology major with a double-minor in French and Gender and Sexuality Studies. The combination of her interdisciplinary studies with her involvement in various activist- and community service-based spaces throughout her college career served as great preparation for living in the Ruka intentional community. In the Memphis Community, Ozakh works with Planned Parenthood of the Greater Memphis Region, CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, H.O.P.E. Women’s Caucus, and SisterReach. Her focus is on improving sexual health education in the Memphis community. She views the lack of sex education and the inadequacy of current programming as a strong contributor to the intersections of injustice and hopes to use her background in Reproductive Justice to inform and advocate for the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all Memphis residents. At Rhodes, Ozakh is a Student Director of the Kinney Community Service Program, a member of the Executive Board for Rhodes College V-Day, and a Rhodes Student Associate for the Grants and Foundations Management office. Her connections to the Rhodes Community will strengthen the relationship between Rhodes and the Ruka House as well as the Binghampton area.
McKenzie Drake (Scribe), is a senior Art and Political Science double major with the intentions of furthering her art and understanding of how political decisions affect urban artists. Since her time at Rhodes, McKenzie has dedicated herself to the Memphis and Rhodes communities. She has worked with the Refugee Empowerment Program, Flicker Street Studio, Rhodes Art Professor Erin Harmon, and has spent three years working with the Department of Art and Art History. McKenzie is a captain of the Rhodes College Ultimate Frisbee Team, AphRhodesiac, and has participated in Memphis ultimate events since her freshman year that have allowed her to make personal connections with Memphis community members. In the Fall of 2015, McKenzie was awarded the Buckman Scholarship to study abroad in London, England, at the University College London Slade School of Fine Art to study painting. Since returning to Rhodes, she has continued her practice and hopes to further herself in the arts after graduation. McKenzie wishes to utilize and improve her artistic and organizational ability within the Ruka community through creating event invitations, managing the blog, and ensuring that the Ruka members schedule time for one another, the community, and Rhodes activities. Through the Ruka community, McKenzie hopes that she will become more involved with local artists at Caritas Village, make an inviting space for Rhodes students, and further practice an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Julia Hamilton (Treasurer), is a senior French and Business Management double major who is currently studying abroad with the aid of the Buckman Fellowship in Nantes, France, where she actively contributes to the Ruka planning process through email and Skype. On campus, Julia works as a French tutor and a Writing Fellow, and previously participated in the 2015 Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies as well as the 2014 Summer Service Fellowship. Over the last two years, Julia also worked as a resident assistant on the Rhodes campus, where she had the opportunity to refine community-focused communication and interpersonal skills she’ll be able to use while living in the Ruka intentional community. Through participating in the Ruka fellowship as the Treasurer, Julia will manage the Ruka’s budget and records to ensure that the intentional community is a good steward of the fellowship stipend. She hopes to build on her previous studies as a business major with financial and cost accounting experience in this position. Julia’s academic and extracurricular interests will nicely complement her time as part of the Ruka community; she looks forward to working in the garden as she has from time to time in the Binghampton Community Garden and plans to use the shared meals as an outlet for her love of cooking.
Georgia Harris (Memphis Community Liaison), is a senior Religious Studies major and Urban Community Health minor. Throughout her time at Rhodes, Georgia has put a strong focus on building relationships on campus and in Memphis as well. She has worked and volunteered with organizations in Memphis such as The Bridge and Refugee Empowerment Program where she has enjoyed having the ability to build relationships with people within Memphis that she would not necessarily cross paths with in her daily life at Rhodes. She is excited for the opportunities that the Ruka will present her to further build relationships within Memphis. She hopes not only to connect with other Memphis residents and grow in relationships with them through the continued support the Ruka will provide to Caritas and Memphis farmer’s markets, but also through connecting with other organizations in Memphis. Georgia sees the experiences she has had on Rhodes campus through giving tours, her position in Alumni Relations, and her leadership role with Reformed University Fellowship as experiences that have given her not only a mindset that revolves around relationship building, but also a heart for people. Georgia hopes that her position will not only allow for personal growth, but will especially foster a stronger connection between Ruka, Rhodes, and Memphis at large.
Abbie Norris (Sustainability Coordinator) is a senior English major and Religious Studies minor. Abbie grew up in an environment conscious of nutrition and economic sustainability. Her family kept chickens and an herb garden, composted, and recycled. Through this, she developed an interest leading a natural, sustainable lifestyle. She believes that the United States’ current methods of food production are unhealthy, both for humans and for the environment, and that the most effective way to change this is for individuals to purchase goods from a more sustainable, local source. She is excited to implement this change for the Ruka fellows and to healthily support the Memphis community and economy through Urban Farms CSA and farmers’ markets. Abbie owns and operates a small business on Etsy, which has given her experience in budgeting and interacting with customers. These skills will be beneficial in working with the Treasurer to oversee the food budget and in maintaining a healthy relationship with Urban Farms. Since the fall of 2014, Abbie has worked for The Bridge street newspaper. As the Local Culture section editor, she works with the Memphis community to highlight organizations that aid those experiencing homelessness. She will apply this experience to putting on community events with the Memphis Liaison, especially in regards to finding sustainability initiatives implemented in and around Memphis. Most of all, as Sustainability Coordinator, Abbie will have the opportunity to encourage environmentally conscious attitudes toward food and to focus on these attitudes in an intentional, productive, and visible way.