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R-MC Student Experience: J.P. McCollum ’11
R-MC Student Experience: J.P. McCollum ’11
J.P. McCollum '11
J.P. McCollum's first impressions of the Randolph-Macon College campus made him feel at home. "Everyone was very relaxed and didn't have the overly enthusiastic school spirit that other schools tend to overwhelm prospective students with. Instead, I found people who were down to earth, friendly and welcoming. The Amtrak train station added a nice touch, too. I saw a college town and felt at home right away."
McCollum knows the value of hard work and a dash of serendipity. "Randolph-Macon College was originally meant to be a 'springboard' for me to go to a bigger school later and take on a more technical degree," says the Hopewell, Virginia native. "But on a whim I took a sociology course at R-MC and loved it, and I decided that Randolph-Macon College was the best choice for me."
McCollum's foray into sociology changed the course of his academic career, and he is now a
major. "I enjoy seeing how people interact with one another and the socioeconomic environments that they live in," he explains. "I've always enjoyed the concept of seeing a 'big picture,' and sociology does that by looking at the context under which things happen. The courses in inequalities, crime and changing social trends have all been fascinating." Asked to explain why he chose to minor in women's studies, McCollum says, "At first, I chose it because it was convenient, but gender roles and the effects they have on people have been very interesting to study."
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Piranha Fishing in Brazil
In conjunction with his interest in sociology, McCollum will travel to Brazil in January 2011 with R-MC Professors Reber Dunkel (sociology), Alphine Jefferson (
) and Kimberly Borchard (Spanish). The trip, part of the college's extensive J-term travel program, will include a trip down the Amazon River and tours of Rio de Janiero and Salvador. "I am very excited about the trip because it will be the first time I have ever left the country," says McCollum. "I'm looking forward to piranha fishing and floating down the Amazon, and I'll finally get to see what a tropical forest looks like."
When he is not focusing on academics, McCollum enjoys
sports such as dodge ball, volleyball and indoor soccer. "I played soccer in grade school, and I'm glad I have the opportunity to play casually in college," he says. "I wouldn’t want to try and keep up with a school team—I just wouldn't have the time—but intramurals are a great way to get together with friends and have a quick game. Dodgeball and soccer are fast and demanding, and great ways to de-stress, and volleyball season is usually well-timed when the weather is starting to turn warm again."
McCollum has participated in the college's Habitat for Humanity program for several years. "I went on the 'alternate spring break' trip this year to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which was awesome," he says. "We helped on a construction site that had five houses in progress. All of us switched jobs once or twice a day, which could range from putting up trusses, shingling, clearing up plots of land or breaking up concrete with sledgehammers. Before coming to R-MC I was not much of a community service kind of guy, but doing this type of work with my friends is a blast." McCollum has also pitched in with Habitat for Humanity’s local community efforts by sorting scrap metal in Hanover County, raking leaves for Ashland residents and placing decals on storm drains discouraging waste dumping during the college's annual Macon a Difference Day.
Time for Work
McCollum also finds the time to work on campus. "Last summer I worked with ITS (Information Technology Services), fixing computers and installing new ones for students and faculty," he says. "This year I am working as a Web assistant for the marketing and communications department. I used to enjoy learning about HTML/CSS when I was younger, and it has been fun to dust off my old knowledge and add to it again. Helping out with the school’s Web site is an eye-opener to how Web development works; there is so much to consider, such as compatibility across browsers, bandwidth, keeping pages relevant and fixing links, visual design, hosting...and it has all been fascinating. I've been building computers for years and any chance to learn more about how to use them is something I'll jump at instantly."
For information on R-MC's sociology department, visit
For information on R-MC's women's studies department, visit
For information on intramural sports at R-MC, visit
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