Two Rhodes Diverged

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After Choosing Right Path, GWU Staff Member, Alum Keith Rhodes Coaches Others in Basketball and in Life

Keith Rhodes decided in middle school that instead of being influenced by a troublemaker, he would make good grades and set an example for others.

“I could have been that statistic that everyone talks about—a child in a single-parent household, living in poverty, getting in trouble, and becoming just a number,” he observed. “A lot of my friends took a different path than me, but I’m not a number, I did make it out, and I can make a difference.”

Since making his choice to help others, he has incorporated mentoring into every facet of his life. He credits his family—his mother Janade as a church choir director, one grandfather as a pastor, and another grandfather as a senior deacon—with instilling in him the importance of helping his community. Rhodes and his wife, Shanta, have nine children, ranging from several months old into their early 20s.

As a father, Rhodes has coached his children in the sport of basketball, while also coaching many other kids in the community, from the elementary to the varsity high school levels.

“My whole purpose is to give back to the community,” he offered. “If I can find a way to help someone else, I’m going to do it.”

Despite commitments to family, job and community, he completed a bachelor’s degree in human services through Gardner-Webb’s Degree Completion Program (DCP), which offers traditional undergraduate courses at convenient times and locations for working adults.

The next year, he joined the University’s staff as a DCP counselor, and he now serves as associate director of DCP admissions, a role that allows him to share with students his story and how the right mindset toward education can change life.

“When students hear my story, they can’t say they can’t do it,” Rhodes noted. “Is it hard? Yes, but you can do it. I tell students that so many doors can open in your life with that bachelor’s degree from Gardner-Webb. God gives the strength to make it possible. My family had a big hand in helping me, too. My kids are attending college now and when they were in high school were honor students. So, I am not the one to hear, ‘I cannot do this.’”

Eight years ago he started Camp Coach Rhodes, now both a nonprofit organization and a week-long day camp held each year during the summertime to provide athletic and life fundamentals to dozens of local children between the ages of four and 14. Even the proceeds from each camper’s small fee to attend go to other local basketball programs in the community to impact additional children.

Parents of children who attend his basketball camp and adults who consider continuing their education through Gardner-Webb’s DCP also now seek advice from him for their own lives. Rhodes, as the admissions professional and the athletics coach, takes the opportunity through both pathways—as well as other community boards, organizations and activities through which he serves—to share the value of an education.

“Gardner Webb University allowed me to attend a prestigious Christian college and continue with my daily duties at home and in the community,” Rhodes explained. “My instructors were excellent online and on campus. Without God none of this would have been possible. To know that this campus encourages you educationally and spiritually is awesome. Gardner-Webb gets you ready for the future.”