When biology major and Wings student Parimala (Pari) Prahalad, ’20, toured Meredith’s campus and learned about its academic offerings, she was intrigued.
“I had the opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art labs, to learn about the class sizes, and to understand the diversity in the student pool. This ultimately convinced me that Meredith was my dream school,” said Pari. “Once I started researching the curriculum, organizations, and community services – my admiration for the College and its dedicated faculty grew tremendously.”
Originally from India where she had a background in electronics and communication engineering, Pari had attended Wake Technical Community College and been working as a registered dental hygienist. She soon realized that she wanted to go to dental school.
Although she was excited to attend Meredith, Pari said that as a Wings student she thought it would be difficult to interact with traditional age students. Instead, she found the other students to be friendly and welcoming.
“We checked on each other every day, provided constructive feedback, and appreciated each other’s contributions,” she said. “This increased our motivation levels and made us lifelong friends.”
During her time at Meredith, Pari was juggling many roles, which was challenging at times.
“It is hard to be a mother, daughter, wife, and friend while being a full-time student. It is very easy to lose focus in day-to-day life unless you are goal-oriented,” she said. “I learned to get my work done promptly and utilize my time efficiently.”
Also key were supportive relationships with faculty. Her academic adviser, Professor of Biological Sciences and Department Head Francie Cuffney, encouraged Pari when she felt unsure of her ability to continue.
“Dr. Cuffney has always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself,” said Pari. “After my first semester at Meredith College, I questioned if I was capable of completing the courses I was taking. Dr. Cuffney motivated me to keep my eye on the prize and to not give up.”
In addition, Pari said Professor of Chemistry Walda Powell’s support helped her thrive in chemistry courses that were essential for both the Dental Admission Test and dental school. And she worked with Jason Andrus, assistant professor of biology, on a research project that focused on the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid on bacteria that are found in the oral cavity – research she hopes to continue in the future.
As she prepares to embark on the next leg of her education as a student in the School of Dental Medicine at East Carolina University, Pari said she feels well prepared to pursue her ultimate goal of becoming a dentist – a goal that she has remained focused on since she first visited Meredith.
“We are given the encouragement, the advice, and the support we need by the faculty, staff, and administration to succeed once we graduate,” said Pari. “I can confidently say that Meredith has provided me with all the tools to become a strong and successful leader in my field of study.”