I cannot tell you the number of times I have met a woman and thought, “I wonder what you could be if you had a Meredith degree.”
Whether meek and insecure or strong but misguided, these women are either off the pathway to personal and professional success or are short-changing their potential. And while Meredith may not be perfect for every woman, we do have an exceptional track record of helping women build on their strengths to achieve their goals.
For one particular group of students, that kind of support and guidance is especially critical: adult women. Many of these women have put their own education on hold, either because they could not afford to pursue college when they were younger or because they focused on supporting their husbands or children through school. Somehow, the time has never been right for them to pursue their own dreams. And many may now lack the confidence to make the bold move of returning to college.
Historically, of course, Meredith has reached out to these women and through specialized admissions and advising has coached non-traditional-aged women toward success. This summer, we had a reunion of alumnae from our adult education program and heard wonderfully inspiring stories of what their Meredith degree has meant to them. We also realized that we have let this program drift without strong leadership, resources, and attention.
It is time – and we are thrilled – to reinvigorate the program.
First on the agenda is re-engaging the alumnae and leadership that comprised and supported this program in its heyday, when 20% or even more of the Meredith population was made up of older and returning students.
Second is building the program as well as developing messages that communicate both the strength of the new program and the women it serves. I am delighted to announce that the new program will be called Wings – a name that will resonate with many women who were part of our organization for adult students that bore the same name (and stood for Women in New Goal Settings).
In its new use Wings is not an acronym, but a single word that represents the strength in rising up that we envision for these women. Equally important is that wings really cannot be given to a woman. Wings are part of every woman’s make-up … she just may have to be reminded they are there, develop their power, and trust in her ability to soar.
Finally, as we re-establish Wings at Meredith, we hope you will help identify and direct potential students to us. Our legacy of making a difference combined with the potential for adult women to re-engage (and maybe even re-imagine) their strengths will no doubt prove to be a turning point in the lives of many women.
And maybe then we can stop wondering what a woman might have been.
Originally published in Meredith Magazine, Fall 2014