Most high school students are focused on getting a driver’s license, going to prom, or dating. The last thing on their minds is picking a career path. La’Meshia Whittington, ’16, was different. At the age of 16, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life – she wanted to start a nonprofit.
She and her brother, Robert, launched TW2 Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit which operates The Scale Academy of Performing Arts (SAPA). SAPA, a satellite music arts school, is responsible for teaching hundreds of impoverished, at-risk, and special needs youth in the state of North Carolina formal music lessons, music theory, and performance studies.
Running a nonprofit made it hard for Whittington to further her education. She wanted a school that was understanding of her life commitments and was willing to help her be successful inside and outside of the classroom. Meredith gave her that opportunity with Wings, the College’s adult education program.
“After spending two years at another university, I realized I needed something more,” said Whittington. “I needed an educational environment and experience that would facilitate, nurture, and inspire my academic pursuits.”
Whittington, along with her brother, began classical training at the age of five when she first started playing the violin. Later, they studied musical genres including Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, and gospel, which is the grassroots of their family. She teaches violin, keyboard, guitar, and voice.
With a background in music and a nonprofit centered on the art of music, many would think she would want to pursue a degree in music, but Whittington chose a different academic focus. She majored in sociology with a minor in criminology. Through her academic success, she had the opportunity to present her undergraduate research at the N.C. Criminal Justice Association Conference and at the Southern Sociological Society in Atlanta. While at Meredith, she was awarded the 2016 Excellence in Criminology Award and was president of the Meredith College Democrats.
“Meredith tailors your study plan to your needs and your dreams,” said Whittington. “That’s the beauty of this college - I never had to lose who I wanted to be or sacrifice my work schedule to obtain my degree. Don’t allow others to define your academic goals, don’t be your own worst critic, and trust the timing of your life.”
Her academic success at Meredith and her passion for helping those in the community has opened up many doors and opportunities for Whittington. In August 2016, she began her studies at East Carolina University on a full scholarship, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology with a focus on nonprofit studies.