Dr. Jo Allen, ’80, is the eighth president of Meredith College, a top-tier nationally ranked institution and one of the largest private colleges for women in the U.S. A national advocate for higher education, she is the first alumna to lead the 128-year-old institution.
In this blog post, Dr. Allen reflects on what sets a Meredith education apart – and why that matters to your future.
What is the distinguishing feature of a Meredith education?
It isn’t math … or science … or business. It isn’t the liberal arts, and it isn’t professional studies. It isn’t sports, or clubs, or internships or study abroad or research. It isn’t even relationships with faculty, staff, and other students. (And, yes, we have all of these features in abundance and can’t wait to tell you more.)
At the heart of the matter, the Meredith distinction is not even that we focus on you as an individual. It is the philosophy, activities, inclusive engagement … in short, the WAY we focus on you as an individual that distinguishes the Meredith experience.
At Meredith, we won’t tell you that you can be anything you want to be if you just try hard and long enough. Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. At any rate, that message isn’t informative and it isn’t useful because some people will put in very long hours and try really, really, really hard. And they still will never be a concert pianist or an Oscar-winning film director or a Pulitzer Prize winner or a Women’s World Cup Most Valuable Player. Most of all, telling people to work hard and put in long hours is not a workable solution because it oversells desire and effort, two qualities that simply are not the entirety of the success equation.
Now Meredith certainly values (and rewards) hard workers and those with determination to persevere and the resilience to bounce back when disappointed. And if one has sufficient talent to go along with this determination and resilience (and true passion for the effort surely doesn’t hurt!), success is certainly within reach.
But it is that focus on your talents – and developing them into strengths – that will lead you to success. Indeed, you can soar by doing things you are really good at doing and learning to do them even better and then using those strengths to build a career and a life. Learn to apply those strengths in various situations and whenever opportunities and possibilities arise. Call on those strengths when you face daunting challenges or obstacles. That approach matters for success in college. More important, it matters for success in life because it is the essence of not just learning, but thriving. And doesn’t that sound better than fixating on and beating yourself up for a weakness?
We think so. And that is what Meredith offers you – a way to understand and develop your strengths to build your best life. You can apply those strengths to whatever you study, whatever clubs or organizations or teams you join or lead, whatever relationships you nurture, and whatever next steps you design for yourself.
Ultimately, Meredith College’s mission, our message, our legacy of educating undergraduate women is clear. We believe in women. We believe in your strengths to develop, overcome challenges, bounce back, find new pathways, and soar. We believe you can change your life … and change the world.
THAT is the Meredith distinction.