Leading is Serving – Henley Peatross

Henley Peatross, ’20, found that her strengths align perfectly with her majors: social work and criminology.

According to the CliftonStrengthsⓇ assessment that Meredith provides for students, Henley’s top strength is “developer,” which means she has the ability to recognize the positive traits in others and bring them to the forefront. “This strengths-based and empowerment focus is something social workers are called to cultivate in their everyday practice,” she said.

Henley has found that the social work program encourages self-reflection, allowing her to learn about her personality and leadership style. “I typically lead with the philosophy that leading is serving,” said Henley. She believes this can be both a strength and a weakness at times. By practicing self-awareness, she’s learned how to identify when her leadership style is manifesting itself in a positive or negative way. 

“I believe this ability to self-assess is preparing me to succeed in graduate school, the work force, and beyond,” said Henley. “I have the social work department to thank for that.”

Henley interned with the Interfaith Prison Ministry. That experience helped to prepare her for her next challenge: the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at NC State University, where she was accepted for advanced standing, allowing her to complete her MSW in just one year.

Outside of her social work studies, Henley has put her strengths to use on the lacrosse field as well. In fact, the opportunity to play lacrosse is what attracted her to Meredith in the first place. “Being a member of the lacrosse team has probably had the greatest impact on my Meredith experience,” said Henley. “I can’t picture my time here without it.”

Meredith’s lacrosse team has held the conference champion title for six years in a row, and Henley has been a part of three of those victories. “This team has made me a champion,” she said. Henley was awarded second team all-conference player last year and named to the all-tournament team during the conference tournament. 

Studying social work and playing lacrosse are two experiences that have shaped Henley tremendously, but she doesn’t believe the experiences would have yielded the same results if she went to a co-ed school. Attending an all women’s college has played a major role in helping build on her strengths. “It has given me confidence and a sense of unwavering empowerment,” she said.