When Ginger Neustadt, ’05, decided to attend Meredith College at the age of 64, she did so at the urging of her supervisor, who thought it would be helpful for her resume. As a political appointee who managed juvenile detention for the state of North Carolina, Ginger was an able leader who had managed several political campaigns and knew how to work a crowd.
“I’m a good people person. I have no problem walking up and talking to someone,” said Ginger. “In my professional life, I’ve often been called in for trouble shooting. I suppose it’s because I’m honest and direct.”
But in spite of her considerable strengths and significant life experience, Ginger said she lacked confidence because she didn’t have a degree. That changed when she graduated in 2005.
“People take you much more seriously once you’ve graduated from college. Being able to say I have a degree from Meredith makes people interact with me in a different way,” said Ginger.
She found that her Meredith experience led her to see the world differently, too. Already well-traveled, she nevertheless decided to study abroad for a summer in Italy. Ginger took classes with other students and lived as they lived. She learned how to travel as the other students did – how to get theatre tickets at the last minute in downtown London, and how to eat cheaply.
“As an adult student, I felt accepted by the other students. I stayed in all kinds of places, and took a vacation with a student on one of our breaks,” said Ginger. “I kept a travel journal, and saw how the students helped one another. It was an eye-opening experience.”
Her degree in religion also broadened her understanding of the Bible and prepared her to take on new roles in her church, where she has served as a deacon, elder, president of the women of the church, and a Stephen Minister.
Now retired and serving on Meredith’s Board of Trustees, Ginger finds opportunities to share her experience with others in the hopes that they will feel encouraged by her story.
“I try to pass on the idea that you are never too old to get an education,” said Ginger. “My boss who started me out was at my graduation. You never know how far that seed will fly.”