Meredith Jane Bolen, Graduate Student at Harvard University

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Current City: Cambridge, MA

Graduation Year: 2016

Major(s): Elementary Education, Middle School Education, Secondary Education and History with an Independent Study in Geoscience Research

Sorority: Alpha Gamma Delta

Please describe your current work.

I am currently enrolled in the Ed.M. Specialized Studies Program at Harvard University. I am focusing my studies on global education and the technology and policy barriers that surround classrooms.

What are your future goals?

After my graduation in May, I plan to return to teaching. I hope to have as many varied experiences as possible before settling down. Prior to graduate school, I taught two years at the secondary level at Rwamagana Leaders’ School. Post grad school, I hope to return to Texas and teach at the elementary level.

In terms of your professional life, what would you say is your overarching purpose today

In terms of my professional life, my overarching purpose is to positively impact as many students, teachers and educators through education.

How did your time at Westminster help you find that purpose?

As a result of Westminster, I was able to gain the skills, tools, and knowledge that have supported me and linked me with Humanity for Children (HFC), a Missouri-based, community-based non-profit organization that works to empower individuals and positively affect health, education, safety and economic conditions across East Africa. Through my time volunteering and working with HFC, I taught World History, English and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for two years at Rwamagana Leaders’ School in Rwamagana Rwanda.

Were any relationships you formed at Westminster particularly influential in helping you find clarity of purpose?

My introduction and connection with Dr. Bob Hansen, a former leadership teacher and administrator from Westminster College, brought me to HFC. Dr. Bob is the President of HFC, and my relationship with him changed the trajectory of the rest of my life to focus on global education rather that national education in the United States of America.

What does being a “leader” mean to you?

Being a “leader” requires a person to take on responsibilities greater than themselves and then act on those responsibilities. Leadership is not independent. It is a collaborative opportunity to impact and support the learning and growth of others in a group. Since graduation, I have tried to be a leader of a classroom in order to lead others through facilitating their learning as a teacher.

What does success mean to you?

“Success” is a hard word to unpack. Success is shown in many different ways in many different situations. For me, I believe success is in reaching my goals, whatever that might be (e.g., completing graduate school, teaching two years in Rwanda, teaching two years in a different context).

What is it about Westminster that makes it the kind of community that empowers students to discover their purpose and find success?

Westminster is the kind of community that empowers students to discover purpose and find success by creating truly meaningful learning experiences and opportunities. My connections to history in Dr. Mark Boulton and Dr. Cinnamon Brown’s classes as well as the independent research with Dr. David Schmidt on fossilized tortoises supported my holistic education and furthered my personal drive to continue learning all subjects and disciplines in order to better help all of my students. Without the incredibly dedicated faculty who care about educating students to make a larger impact in the world, Westminster would not have been as supportive to my education as it really was.

Favorite Westminster faculty member?

That is a really tough question. I have so many professors that truly impacted my life and I appreciate to the fullest. Dr. David Schmidt, Dr. Tobias Gibson, Dr. Barri Bumgarner, Dr. Mary Majerus, Dr. Mark Boulton, Dr. Cinnamon Brown, Dr. Bob Cowles, Dr. Sue Serota, Dr. Linda Aulgur, Dr. Bob Hansen and Dr. Kasi Lacy are the combined force that supported my learning and growth at Westminster. I could never choose just one. They all are my favorites.

Favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus is the Alpha Gamma Delta lounge and first floor of Sweazy used for housing. At Westminster, I helped institute housing with my sorority as the first sorority with housing on campus. My connection to that space roots me to the Westminster campus.

Last book you read?

The last book I read was Language Crisis in Tanzania: The Myth of English versus Education by Roy-Campbell published in 1997 in order to support my research on the education system in Tanzania.

Favorite movie?

My favorite movie is Grosse Pointe Blank with John and Joan Cusack.

Favorite app?

My favorite app is Words With Friends.

Favorite way to spend a Sunday?

On Sundays, I am usually traveling through libraries. This past Sunday, I went to the Harvard iLab and then the Business School library in order to read and research more for classes.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.