Last fall while I was working at the Spencer Perkins Center, a Belhaven student walked into my office to apply for an internship with us. In my interview notes I wrote: honest. seems like a hard worker. has a heart to serve others. sets goals for herself. After working alongside her for several months, I can definitely affirm my initial perceptions of her- I don't think I know another person who is more dedicated or passionate than Meredith!
As her supervisor, I had the privilege of watching her mature in her professionalism as a future social worker. But as her friend, I had the privilege of watching her mature in her faith. She has grown so much, and her heart is full of big dreams and big ideas to make the world a better place. I am very proud of Meredith and excited for her!
Meredith's advice to young students who are about to start college is "Don't give up. Don't stop trying. And never listen to doubts. I was a C, D, and sometimes B student. But praying, organizing, and striving got me through. The striving student isn't better than anyone, but they have a goal and stick to it. In Joshua, it says be courageous. We may not always know what's about to happen, but we need to be ready when it does. Keep the faith and keep God first."
Ashley: What made you want to choose Social Work as your major?
Meredith: I was originally going for Psychology, but I knew I wanted to do more. I wanted to help more people in a different way, so I prayed about it and when I went to class, I felt like God said "you aren't supposed to be here." My adviser said "Why don't you try Social Work?" As soon as I got into Social Work, I knew that's where I was supposed to be.
Ashley: Why do you think Social Workers are important to the world?
Meredith: I think social workers have an aspect that most people don't have. They love others so intensely that they are willing to give up their own time to make that impact for others.
RD: What's the biggest thing you've learned at Belhaven?
Meredith: The biggest thing I have learned is how to juggle different things and be organized. Another thing is helping others and being involved in other people's lives. Because when you come to class you really don't know what other people are going through. I have learned more from being in the class than from textbooks - learning other people's lives and walks. In our classes we interview each other and talk about what is going on in our lives. That's what I have really learned is to listen and to know that person isn't going through what you think they may be going through. It's not all what the eye sees.
Ashley: What dreams or goals do you have for your future?
Meredith: My dream is to take social work through what Jesus has for me and see people the way he sees people. And that way I know how to better help them more than what I directly think and what they need. My goal is to help as many people as Jesus wants me to or allows me to. That may look like an elderly home or else where in the community.
Ashley: How has college helped you to grow as a person?
Meredith: I have grown as a person in college by meeting people where they are in life, and learning how to organize and study - and really not just for a test, but to really read into things and apply it to my life. That has matured me more because I don't just pass the test, but I accept what the book is saying and I understand it more. That's going to help me in my careers and in my life. I have also matured because I have learned how to say "no" to things. I have not always done what I wanted to do, but what I needed to do. That meant losing a lot of friends. That meant losing a lifestyle I once lived. And that has made me into who I am, honestly. I don't know what people do without college. Because I don't think I would be who I am today without it.
RD: What have you learned from your Social Work Internships at Spencer Perkins Center and We Will Go/The Fountain?
Meredith: SPC really taught me how to love children and accept them in a way i never really did before. It helped me learn to listen to them and mentor them . The Fountain helped me connect with children that i wouldn't have met anywhere else. It takes me deeper into their lives, and I'm able to care about them more in their homes and spend more time with them. Both places built my love for children when before i didn't really know how to interact with them at all.
RD: What is your favorite thing about your current internship at We Will Go? And how has interning there changed your life?
Meredith: I love the Food and Clothes Ministry because you get to meet a lot of people and pray with them. You get to learn about them and create relationships with those people. It has changed my life because I get to love on different people that I wouldn't have before. And I get to learn how to accept people the way they are. I get to love on them in their daily life and in their spiritual life. So that has helped me see God more in people that may not even have God in the first place.
Ashley: What do you think is the biggest impact We Will Go has on the community?
Meredith: I think the biggest impact We Will Go has on this community would have to be that they accept all and love all. We are not trying to change their hearts or lifestyles. We just show God's love for them, and through that they WANT to change because they find Jesus.