Graduate Spotlight: Shelby Ryals

a young woman wearing a graduation cap, gown and cords sits on the steps
Shelby Ryals

Shelby Ryals, a 2022 graduate of Mercer University‘s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am actively applying for jobs that will enable me to give back to the Macon community. I hope to work with a local nonprofit to make a difference.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

Dr. Marc Jolley has been an amazing professor to me. I had four classes with him, served as a preceptor under him my last semester, and he was my senior thesis adviser. Not only has he supported me academically, he has helped me excel and better myself as a person. Dr. Jolley has made a substantial impact on my Mercer experience, and I am so grateful!

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was philosophy of religion. I particularly enjoyed this as my first philosophy course, and I had the pleasure of serving as a preceptor for it my senior year. Dr. Jolley goes above and beyond to ensure that the students understand the purpose of the thinkers we studied — that we should work toward bettering ourselves personally, and that we should continuously examine ourselves. The Myth of Sisyphus was first introduced to me in this course, and I will be forever moved by it. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Just as we imagine such, we should apply this lesson to our lives.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Establish good study habits early. Coursework difficulty for your major increases as you become an upperclassman, and you sincerely need to set yourself up for success. It pays off in the long run.

What makes Mercer special to you?

Mercer has the message of changing the world, and this is exactly what I want to do. I want to make a substantial difference to the community I reside within, and Mercer means so much to me because the values of the University closely align with mine.

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