Interviewed by Abbey Edmonson | Photographed by James Vinson
Arielle Hudson, 22, is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi. In November, Hudson, of Tunica, became the school’s first Black female Rhodes Scholar.
Q: What did it feel like to be named a Rhodes Scholar?
A: I was pretty much in shock, so during my initial reaction while in the room, I grabbed the arms of my chair and mouthed, “Hold up — what?” I think it still hasn’t hit me yet that this is now my reality. I don’t know when it will, but I think it probably won't until I actually get to Oxford, England, and start my new journey.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: In September, I will begin a two-year law program at The University of Oxford under Pembroke College. After graduating from Oxford, I plan to return to the U.S. and attend law school. Eventually, I want to practice law as a civil rights attorney, and I want to be an education policymaker.
Q: What has made you most proud during your years at the university?
A: No matter where I went to college, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who needed it most. Immediately after coming to the university, I noticed the lack of student involvement in the racial reconciliation work the university had already begun. I made it my mission to dive into that work and to inspire other students from all spectrums to also be intertwined in those efforts. My proudest moments have been playing a pivotal role in the relocation of the Confederate statue while serving as president of the Black Student Union and a senator in the Associated Student Body and working with senior administrators to implement mandatory diversity and bias training and culturally responsive and culturally diverse curriculum.
Q: Why does Mississippi hold a special place in your heart?
A: I believe in Mississippi, and I want to make Mississippi a better place to live for all people. Although I am sure I will move around a bit, I plan to come back. There are so many of us losing hope and leaving the state without realizing the negative impact that we're also making by doing so. If we all leave and never come back, then what would be left of Mississippi? Who will be left to truly work to change it for the better?
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for other students?
A: Stay the course and keep the faith. You have a purpose that is bigger than yourself and that is always worth fighting for no matter how hard life may get at times. Believe that you can do anything, work towards it, pray, and it will happen.