Jennifer Orellana, ’19, has always enjoyed working with children, which sparked her interest in becoming a teacher. That was partially why she came to Meredith. Majoring in family and consumer sciences (FCS), Jennifer plans to help children achieve their potential through education.
Transferring from Central Carolina Community College her junior year, Jennifer saw that Meredith offered more opportunities for her to excel as a future educator.
“In high school, I took FCS courses and absolutely loved them, but I wasn’t sure what path to take in making that my career goal,” said Jennifer. “I attended a teaching seminar, learned more about the major, and knew it was what I wanted to do. So, I explored schools that offered that major.”
Jennifer never imagined coming to Meredith but a friend who attended the College encouraged her to visit. That friend brought Jennifer to campus, gave her a tour, and the rest is history.
“I fell in love. I fell in love with the idea that it was close to home and offered the exact major I wanted,” said Jennifer. “I like the small classes and the campus. Commuting 45 minutes every day, I don’t worry about transportation from class to class because everything is in walking distance.”
The faculty and staff have helped make Jennifer’s transition to Meredith an easy one, and she has grown during her time on campus. “I’ve gained more independence just by being here,” said Jennifer.
Deborah Tippett, professor of human environmental sciences, has been very influential during Jennifer’s time at Meredith, and left an impression on her before she even enrolled in the College.
“Before I decided to come to Meredith, I sat down and met with her, and we had lunch at Belk Dining Hall,” said Jennifer. “She made me feel welcomed and made me fall even more in love with FCS. She has such a passion for what she does. She is definitely someone that I will never forget.”
Jennifer came to Meredith with the idea of being a teacher, but her faculty mentors helped her explore other options and encouraged her to try new things, including participating in Angels Suited for Success, which was a pathway to her current internship with the Autism Society of North Carolina.
“Angels Suited for Success allowed me to fix up my resume and helped me with job interviews,” said Jennifer. “The program helped bring out my strengths by encouraging me to see my skills and strengths as assets in a career setting, and I used the Internship Expo to connect me to possible internships.”
She describes her greatest strength as her communication skills. “I’m bilingual. That’s a skill that is easy to translate into the workforce,” Jennifer said. Being bilingual has helped her rise through the ranks and connect with others.
Jennifer works with the Meredith Autism Program and has volunteered with the Ellen Brewer House. Through those experiences, she found a deeper passion for wanting to work with children, but now with a focus on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy.
After graduation, Jennifer will stay on with the Autism Society of North Carolina, where she has been hired as a program coordinator. Her plan is to become a registered behavior technician and work her way up within the organization.
Helping others, especially children, has always been a passion of Jennifer’s and it is a passion she aims to continue pursuing. “I know if I had chosen anywhere else, I wouldn’t have gotten this far,” said Jennifer.
By Sydney Cooper, ’19
Explore Meredith's family and consumer sciences major
Learn more about the resources available through Meredith's Office of Career Planningclass of 2019 family and consumer sciences meredith autism program transfer