Where in the World: Shearon Roberts, ‘76 in Haiti

For the past three years, I have had the privilege of working with a grassroots, all volunteer organization called Mission MANNA.  Mission MANNA is a North Carolina based organization that provides medical care for malnourished children and continuing healthcare education for adults in and around the Haitian town of Montrouis, which lies north of Port au Prince.  We hold clinics in the same five villages, two of which are remote mountain villages where we are the only medical providers.  In addition to our organization, there are three Haitian community health workers who work with us year- round following seventy-two severely malnourished children on a weekly/monthly basis.

In 2010, Mission MANNA began a sustainable nutrition project.  This program donates various types of livestock to local families who as a result are supplied with a source of income and nutrition for their families and other families in the area.

In these photographs, I am either on the way to or in the village of Pyiatt doing clinical work.  As you can see, I am proudly wearing my ‘Where in the World is Meredith’ shirt!  There are no passable roads to the village, so we must walk along a dusty road for over an hour and then through fields where this village is fortunate enough to have a water source and is able to grow bananas and watercress.  On this particular day, our clinic was set up at a school where we saw almost 300 children; many of them had waited for hours with parents and older siblings before the clinic even opened.  At my day job, I am a genetic counselor at Mission Hospital’s Fullerton Genetic Center, but in Haiti I am an “expert” wormer!  According to one of our pediatricians, de-worming a child every six months can save their life.  Without clean water and proper hygiene, these children often fall victim to widespread malnutrition from a variety of reasons.

This trip was my third with the group and has become my passion.  I am currently serving on the Mission MANNA Board and am happy to share our story with anyone who will listen.  For me, this entire experience has been life-changing.  It is a true example of ‘you get more than you give’, and that we can make a difference, no matter how small we sometimes feel our efforts may be.

– Shearon F. Roberts, ‘76

For more information on Mission MANNA, please visit their website by clicking here.

Photo of the Week!

This week’s photos were taken from the 2005 edition of the Oak Leaves.  The unnamed students celebrate their class’ 105th night, a special event marking 105 days until graduation.  The tradition changed slightly last year when the class of 2010 decided to push the event to the spring semester.  They celebrated 10th night rather than 110th night.  The tradition continues as this year’s senior class celebrates 11th night on April 27th in the McIver Amphitheater.


The caption from the Oak Leaves reads: “This year the magic number was 105! Seniors gathered at Exploris in downtown Raleigh to celebrate 105 days until graduation.  A slide show of events was shown recapping the events and traditions that the seniors had participated in at Meredith.  Both their big/sis and lil/sis’s joined in on the celebration of their upcoming graduation.”

Denver, Colorado Alumnae Chapter

On Saturday, April 16th, members of the Denver Chapter of the Meredith College Alumnae Association met for a brunch at The Lobby in downtown Denver.  We were very excited to have two new faces in the crowd–Sandi and Wendy.  We mostly chatted, reminiscing about our experiences at Meredith and excitedly discussing how great it would be to have an Alumna as the next President of the College.  Little did we know that Dr. Jo Allen, ’80 was going to be announced as the President-elect of Meredith college in just a few short days!

Our main goal right now is to have more women involved in the Denver chapter because we know there are more alums out there. So, if you are a Colorado alumna and would like to meet more Meredith women, please contact the ladies in the Office of Alumnae & Parent Relations and they’ll put you in touch with us.  Or, you can subscribe to updates from our brand new facebook group by searching for “Meredith Alumnae – Colorado” and requesting to join!

More than anything, it is comforting to know that there are other women nearby who loved Meredith College and who understand the need to talk about Cornhuskin’ or the value of a Women’s college education or missing the blossoming azaleas in the spring.

We’re planning on having another event sometime in June, so be on the lookout for an invitation with details.  We would love to have you there!

– Marie LaHaye, ’10

(L to R) Lyda Ellis, ’01, Sandi Nieves, ’06, Susan Ames Webster, ’00, Marie LaHaye, ’10, Wendy Evans Wadhams, ’80

Meredith College Names New President: Dr. Jo Allen

Jo Allen, Ph.D., Meredith College Class of 1980, has been named the eighth president of the College, effective July 1, 2011. Allen is the first Meredith College alumna to assume the leadership of the 120-year old institution.

Sam E. Ewell, Jr., chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, made the announcement to several hundred faculty and staff members, students, alumnae and community leaders at an event held on campus.

A North Carolina native, Allen earned her Master’s degree from East Carolina University and her doctorate from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. She has served as tenured associate professor of English at East Carolina University and tenured associate professor at North Carolina State University.  In addition to her duties as a faculty member, Allen has served in a number of leadership positions at the universities where she taught, including special assistant to the Dean and Vice Chancellor, as Assistant Dean and Interim Vice Provost.  She is currently Senior Vice President, Provost and Professor of English at Widener University, Chester, Pa., where she oversees academic and student affairs at Widener’s main campus in Chester and for satellite campuses in Harrisburg and Exton, Pa., and Wilmington, Del.

“It’s both an honor and a privilege to be selected as the next president of Meredith College,” Allen said. “This is a position I’ve aspired to and prepared for my entire career. As an alumna, I know first hand that Meredith is a special place, one that for more than a century has produced women leaders who have made their mark in education, business, government and, perhaps most importantly, with their families and communities.

“It’s often said, ‘if you want to change the world, educate a woman,” Allen continued. “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, alumnae and the extended Meredith family to create the next generation of world changers.”

Allen said one of her key foci would be to expand Meredith’s partnerships with business, government and not-for-profit organizations throughout the state and nation. “If the last two decades of the 20th century were about ‘women’s ways of knowing,’ the first two decades of the 21st century are clearly about ‘women’s ways of leading.’ We have the skills, knowledge and passion to help solve many of the challenges currently facing our country while providing an unparalleled academic experience for our students,” Allen said.

“I know that I speak for the entire Meredith College Board of Trustees and the faculty, staff, alumnae and student members of the search committee when I say how delighted we are that Allen will be our next president,” Ewell said. “We conducted a thorough and deliberate national search and considered dozens of extremely well-qualified candidates from a range of backgrounds. In the end, Allen was our unanimous choice because she possesses the scholarship and leadership qualities Meredith needs.

“She’s a believer in what Meredith is all about,” Ewell said, “and the fact that she’s also an alumna was icing on the cake. In short, Allen is the ideal choice to shepherd Meredith College into the future.”

Following the announcement, Allen and Hartford met with members of the College community at a reception in the College’s main administration building.

“My predecessors, including Dr. Hartford, have helped expand Meredith’s focus and strengthen her reputation as one of the premier centers of higher education in the nation,” Allen said. “I pledge to continue that legacy with all the energy and enthusiasm I can muster.

“Obviously a number of things have changed at Meredith since I was a student here,” Allen said, “but the core of what makes this College so special has not. I must say that it’s good to be coming home.”

For more information, visit http://www.meredith.edu/new-president.

– Melyssa Allen, Marketing

Welcome to Meredith, Annie Ross Hartford!

It is with pleasure that the Class of 2011 announces the senior class doll: Annie Ross Hartford. This young woman’s name is of special importance. Her first name, Annie, hails from our senior Cornhuskin’ skit’s lead character who brought us all together for one last dance.  Her middle name is in honor of our class advisor, Peggy Ross, a woman who has provided guidance and support to us over the past four years. Finally, Annie’s surname, Hartford, is named in honor of Dr. Hartford and her final years of service to Meredith.   Annie’s clothing and accessories are all chosen specifically to draw attention to cultural trends and important moments of our college years. She is dressed in a comfortable yet fashionable outfit of a white tank, a navy blue cardigan, skinny jeans, and sparkly silver TOMS. However, the tag on her TOMS appropriately reads MCG. Her outfit is accessorized by trendy long necklaces and a scarf and classy pearl earrings.  In her hair she is wearing a Corn headband; she just can’t get enough of that wonderful time of year! Of course, her right hand is outfitted with her onyx; it is the only jewelry she can’t leave home without. Annie is also carrying a Longchamp bag with all of the essentials: her Cam Card in a Vera Bradley ID case just like the one her Big Sis got her on move in day, her keys to Apartment 2011 as one of the first residents to move into The Oaks, and sunglasses. She needs something to protect her eyes from the bright future she sees ahead!

Situated next to Annie is her toy box where she keeps all of the items that remind her of her most treasured memories at Meredith. This toy box, even the Think Green at Meredith and Meredith Athletics stickers on the outside are important. Although these 11 items could never take the place of her years at Meredith, they will remind her of the sweet memories and traditions she has to carry with her. First, Annie has a soda can to remind her of 2011’s sense of accomplishment over four years of Can Art victories.  Just looking at the can reminds her of iPods, recycling bins, guitars, and rocket ships. In fact, her freshman year Cornhuskin’ was such a remarkable experience that her iPod, the second item in the toy box, is set to play “Knock on Wood” so she can start a Dance Revolution whenever she wants. Next to the iPod is Annie’s scrapbook with tickets to those special events like Tea for Two, Guardian Angel Dance, Charming Evening, Ring Dinner, and Senior Parent Night. Each ticket carries enough memories to fill pages.  When Annie looks at the next two items in the toy box, her class charm on its black ribbon and a unique rope that is half of a daisy chain and half of a tug-of-war rope, she has fond memories of sophomore year. Although Annie is always sad to think about when her Big Sis left, these two items remind her of how wonderful the transition to an upperclasswoman and role model really was.

And, of course, she can’t forget how the odds were always in her favor when it came to tug-of-war! Annie’s toy box wouldn’t be complete without at least a few items showing her ODD spirit. Her tye-died t-shirt and black glove that she wore at Class Day should be enough to remind her of those Odd Balls and the way they always encouraged her to throw her hands up once every night in November.  The next three items in the toy box are from Annie’s last years at Meredith. The crook with its rainbow ribbon bring back both memories of flashlights and grids of campus as well as the exhilaration she felt when it was found with only 17 minutes to spare.  The paintbrush with its rainbow-painted bristles is a reminder of the countless hours spent with classmates painting Cornhuskin’ props and the tunnel. A few paint drops are even left-over from when she worked tirelessly to repaint the tunnel to show how Meredith girls can work through any obstacle, even vandalism. Finally, the coozie is from Annie’s final days at Meredith where she and her friends worked together to give back to the place that given so much to them through their generous donations to the Senior Class Gift.  The last and maybe most important item in the toy box is the spirit stick. While Annie never wants to forget a Cornhuskin’ dance or speaker at a traditional event, she knows she will never forget the way the class of 2011 bonded over the years and became friends, then sisters, and then family.


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