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GSSM Graduate Eliza Rhodes Receives Norris Medal, Clemson University’s Highest Undergraduate Honor

May 16, 2017

When you’re as genuine a person as Eliza Rhodes, it’s only natural that your life journey be genuine, too. 

The 2017 Norris Medal recipient, and the first anthropology major at Clemson University to receive the high honor, Rhodes said all it took was one anthropology class to set her on a path she never anticipated but one that she wouldn’t change for anything. 

“I changed my major from bioengineering to anthropology at the end of my sophomore year. The major is unique because it’s broad. What I loved most 
about it was that I could craft what I wanted to do in the sciences, and yet, I didn’t have to give up the humanities,” Rhodes said. 

Her new major, combined with a study abroad experience in Spain and a volunteer opportunity with the Joseph F. Sullivan Center’s mobile health clinic in the Upstate, crystallized her path to medical school. 

“I got to work alongside nurse practitioners to bring medical care to migrant farm workers,” she said. “It was enlightening.  For the longest time, I thought I was going to graduate with a resume that made no sense to anyone, but after that experience, I knew I wanted to have more interactions with patients. “

The Norris Medal honors a graduating senior who exemplified the best qualities of a Clemson scholar. Rhodes’ journey to the Norris Medal started with several faculty members telling her they wanted to nominate her. She was both flattered and excited. And it didn’t take long for the good news to arrive. 

“I was at home on a random Monday evening watching a movie and when I checked my email there it was. It was overwhelming and I was absolutely shocked.”

With graduation behind her and a solid plan in front of her, Eliza is taking a much-needed break from studying to travel to Europe with friends to explore places like Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest. When she returns, she’ll move to Charleston where she will start medical school in the fall. 

As for her ties to GSSM, she says she’s still best friends with Lydia Givens who was her roommate at Governor’s School.  Givens also plans to move to Charleston for law school, so the two will remain close. 

Having her sister, Grace, also a GSSM grad, at Clemson this past year was another highlight of her time as a Tiger.

“I didn’t want to go to school in state, but when I visited the campus, I fell in love with it. The faculty and staff support - really everything about Clemson - exceeded my expectations.”

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