A group of inspiring Meredith College women shared their stories during “Meredith Callings: A Panel of Powerful Women,” on September 5, 2018.
The event was inspired by Meredith’s 2018 Summer Reading Program selection, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work by Dave Isay. Part of the StoryCorps project, Callings shares stories of individuals pursuing a “calling” in life. This calling may be a particular career, a hobby, or an inspired approach to one’s vocation.
For the Summer Reading Program panel discussion, which was moderated by Katie Peterssen, Assistant Director, Career Development, Meredith women talked about their own callings.
Featured on the panel were Adrienne Hiner Cole, ’93, trustee representative; Samantha Cibelli, ’10, alumna representative; Assistant Professor of Dance Sarah Bean, faculty representative; Sana Haseeb, ’19, student representative; and Sheila Thomas, ’19, Wings student representative.
A theme of the discussion was how each woman found her calling. Some of the panelists said they had known their calling all their lives, while others said they took a different path.
Haseeb, a biology and chemistry major who plans to become a physician, said she has long wanted to become a doctor. “I recognized my calling right away, from a young age. While in college I discovered my desire to support medically underserved people.”
Cole, who is the first woman to serve as the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, said her calling found her. “What led me was a sense of responsibility and a desire to make a difference in my community,”
Cole said. “In economic development, we take a ‘see a need, fill a need’ approach. I knew this was my calling when I woke up excited to go to work every day.”
Before joining the faculty at Meredith, Bean had a number of careers, all with one common theme. “My passion is dance. I took a winding road to figure out how to turn that into a career,” said Bean. “My indirect path, including arts administration and teaching, all came together to shape my life as a faculty member.”
Life experience helped Thomas, a United States Marine Corps veteran, find her calling. “As a veteran, I have an understanding of what other veterans go through. I found my calling in anger. I was fed up with the suffering I heard about from women veterans,” said Thomas, who is majoring in social work.
Cibelli said her career in strategic marketing is not what she originally intended to do while majoring in psychology at Meredith. “My path has been a series of doors I didn’t realize were going to open for me,” Cibelli said. “These were a series of choices, not things I could have forseen.”
The evening ended with President Jo Allen, ’80, sharing her own path, and advice for students. Allen, who admitted she had not always known her calling was to become Meredith’s president, advised students to remain open to possibility.
“Being open is important … keep your options open, do your homework and find out more about those options, and listen to your sponsors, those who will help you succeed,” Allen said.
The variety of ways the panelists found their careers was appealing to students in the audience.
“Not everyone knows what they want to do and that scares them, while some know exactly what they want to do. Hearing the stories of each panelist provided different experiences that the freshmen may be able to relate to,” said Chelsea Carre’, ’19, who introduced the panel discussion.
Ashley Ricks, ’19, serves as a student advisor and has read each summer reading selection while at Meredith. Callings is her favorite of the four.
“Callings is a great book for any age because it proves that people find their calling at different times in their lifetime,” Ricks said. “I found the book hard to put down since I was so intrigued with every story.”
The Summer Reading Program was created to enhance the academic climate on campus and to engage incoming first-year students in a shared intellectual endeavor with the entire campus community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumnae.