The second night of her freshman semester, Mary Jessup Gooden, ’15, called her mom to tell her that she had just finished eating frozen yogurt – and developing her complete four-year plan with her faculty advisor.
“That was probably the last thing that she expected to hear,” Mary Jessup laughed. “At no other school would I have had the opportunity to develop such personal and meaningful relationships as I did at Meredith.”
Mary Jessup’s connections with faculty have served her well as she has completed multiple internships, engaged in undergraduate research, and been a research assistant in the psychology department. And her mentors’ high expectations have nurtured what Mary Jessup considers her greatest strength: a powerful sense of ambition.
Mary Jessup’s involvement in the Meredith Autism Program (MAP) allowed her to discover a skill and enthusiasm for working with children on the autism spectrum. Through MAP she’s worked and studied as a one-on-one trainer, team leader, feeding coach, and preschool teacher and shadow.
To further develop her knowledge in the field, Mary Jessup sought out internships in pediatric, geriatric, medicinal, rehabilitative, and psychiatric occupational therapy where, she says, “my enthusiasm developed into a passion for making a difference in the lives of others.” She carried that passion abroad to Quito, Ecuador, where she volunteered at a collaborative occupational therapy clinic for impoverished children and adults.
Recently named the outstanding senior in psychology, Mary Jessup’s academic record is impressive. But it doesn’t tell her whole college story. She has thrown herself into numerous clubs, organizations, and activities, making deep connections with her classmates and her little sis class, and learning more about her own ability to manage multiple commitments.
“Being involved in such diverse activities, I have been challenged to maintain my sanity despite my crazy schedule. These lessons have enriched my educational experience by teaching me the art of balance.”
In the fall Mary Jessup will pursue her Master of Science in occupational therapy at East Carolina University. She feels confident in her choice, having carefully weighed acceptances into several graduate programs.
“As I continue my education, I will take on life just as Meredith has taught me to – by holding myself to high standards and by valuing and using my personality, passions, and talents as I help others find meaning in theirs.”