Randolph College is a community filled with originals: women and men who are not afraid to be who they are—or to admit they are still figuring it out. Behind the Red Brick Wall, these individuals merge into a family, one in which academics, honesty, and tradition are top priorities and intelligence is assumed. A shared desire to make a difference in the world is a hallmark that has not changed in more than 119 years. This fall, Randolph welcomed the Class of 2014—another class of unique thinkers. Here are a few of their stories.
What started as a way to be more involved in the competitive horse show arena ended up a profitable business for Amy Jacobs ’14. After receiving her first camera during her freshman year in high school, Jacobs immediately took it to her favorite place—the horse ring.
A year later, she owned an upgraded camera and her own photography business.
“It started out really small,” said Jacobs, who is a competitive rider from York, Pennsylvania. “I would go to shows with my friends and take pictures. Word started getting around in the horse community, and it blossomed and grew from there.”
While her focus has remained primarily on equine photography, Jacobs has expanded recently to include senior portraits.
Owning and managing a small business while in high school was difficult for Jacobs, but fulfilling. In addition to juggling her riding schedule, academics, and shooting photographs, she also had to learn about tax returns, Web site design, marketing, and other logistics.
“I’ve been my own boss,” Jacobs added. “I’ve dealt with customers. I’m a teen, but I’m in that more-adult world of running a business. I work mostly with adults, so I had to learn how to be on the same terms with them.”
She feels fortunate to have a customer base interested in her product. “I can’t imagine myself doing a regular job now,” she said. “I love having the freedom to create my own schedule, and I like taking charge and doing what needs to be done.”
Above all, she loves being able to merge her passions for photography and horses. “I just love doing this,” she said. “It doesn’t even seem like work to me.”
If Michael Ehilegbu ’14 has learned anything from his time with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), it is how to balance a rigorous academic load with a love for competitive basketball. Ehilegbu has traveled and competed with an AAU group in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, since he was 12. He also played the sport for his high school.
“It’s definitely fun,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of new people, see lots of new places, and play everywhere. The core of our team had been together since we were little kids. We had a close bond.”
The AAU tournaments have taken him all over the United States including Florida, New York, and Tennessee. “The traveling has taught me responsibility,” he said. “I’ve learned to manage money, and I’ve gotten used to being away from my parents.”
It has also taught him to manage his time. A graduate of Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, Ehilegbu met the demands of a challenging academic program while spending dozens of hours a week in practices and games. “Getting a great education is really important,” he said. “I had to work hard to manage my time. You have to stay on top of everything.”
Ehilegbu wasn’t always a success on the basketball court. He started playing when he was 6, but realized the sport didn’t come naturally. “I always work hard, finish everything out, and don’t ever give up,” he said. “Basically, I just try to work hard and get better.”
He is excited about his first season with the Randolph WildCats. “I have the opportunity to get a great education and play basketball with a great team,” he said. “That’s important.”
Kelsey Abell ’14 comes from a long line of sports fanatics. Her father coaches college baseball, her uncle coaches college football, and her older brother played in the minor leagues. “I used to go watch my brother play when he played for the Broxton Rox,” she said. “I loved watching him play and seeing the relationships he built with his teammates.”
Abell has found her own place on the softball field—a sport she has played since the third grade. “My dad encouraged me to try it, and I ended up loving it,” said the Rustburg, Virginia, native. “It’s a very competitive sport, and you make so many friendships from it. You become this really big family, and I like that bond.”
She has played on her high school softball team, as well as on traveling teams. “I’ve learned a lot about leadership through softball,” she said. “And you learn a lot about responsibility.”
Sports aren’t the only thing that runs in Abell’s family. Her grandmother and both of her parents have teaching backgrounds, and Abell wants to follow in those footsteps.
“I was always in my mom’s classroom growing up, and I had some really good teachers who have inspired me. I want to do that for someone else.”
When McKinley Worley ’14 goes shopping, she picks a bit of everything and puts it together to create her own style. Her approach to life embraces that same concept.
“I don’t follow a statistical pattern,” she said. “I love being full of contradictions. When I’m shopping, I get clothes in all sorts of different styles and from different places and throw them together. People always tell me they couldn’t have pulled that off.”
She sees her life as the same type of blank canvas.
“I don’t worry about fitting in a certain way,” Worley said. “I am who I am, and I’m going to do what makes me happy.”
At the same time, she’s happiest with schedule and order. “I’m organized, and I like to do what needs to be done.”
A free spirit, Worley is a vegetarian and loves to just let go and dance. But when she wants to relax, she does math problems. Trigonometry was one of her favorite classes in high school. “If I’m stressed, I go home and do a math problem,” she said. “It centers me and focuses me.”
French culture fascinates her, and she spends her free time playing for a band.
“I absolutely love to learn, and I want to try everything,” said Worley, who is from Lynchburg, Virginia. “I want to learn from different people and take advantage of every opportunity. I want to know that I made the best out of my college experience.”
Trey Gaylor’s ’14 first foray into science was second grade. His teacher told students to catch an insect and track its behavior and lifespan. His lightning bug only lived two days, but Gaylor was hooked permanently.
“That was the first thing that got to me on how science works,” he said.
Gaylor’s fascination with science developed into a preference for medical biology and how the human body works. “I really like how the body works and how cells work with other cells,” he said. Originally from Bassett, Virginia, Gaylor enjoys the dynamics and intricacies of science. “I hate not being able to find an answer,” he said. “I’m a hands-on person, and I like being able to see how things work. You have to be creative and think outside of the box to see what will happen if you do this or that.”
He plans to study biology and hopes to one day work in a diagnostic laboratory for a hospital. “I want to be in a profession where I can do my day-to-day job, but while I’m doing that, I can help people,” he said. “Even though it may not seem like it to me when I’m doing a test in the lab, I might be able to catch something that nobody else did. I might be able to help diagnose that person, and that diagnosis may end up saving a life.”
Gaylor’s need to help others stems from his family and religious faith. “I try to go through life doing the right thing,” he said. “I’m a friend to everyone because it’s the right thing to do. I want to be in a situation where I can help people or do some small thing that helps a lot of people. That’s how I was raised.”