Photo of the Week: American Girl in Paris

Over the next several months, we will be following Natalie Riddick, ’12, as she travels through France, England, Italy, Australia, Spain and Los Angeles with Meredith College’s inaugural Fashion on the Move program.  Led by Dr. Diane Ellis, a group of ten Meredith students will spend their fall semester abroad learning about fashion in other cultures and counties.

Natalie has been gracious enough to share her blog with the alumnae community so that we may read along and experience Europe through her blog posts.  Once or twice a month, Natalie will write into Beyond the Back Gate as a student contributor.  She will share her stories, lessons learned and best of all.. her pictures!  If you all have any questions for Natalie or if you would like to hear about anything specific, please feel free to comment on the blog posts and we will do our best to get in touch with her!

To get us started off, we are featuring Natalie and two of her roommates for our photo of the week:

Ashley Amber Durand, ’12, Brittany Blake Evans,’12 and Natalie Riddick, ’12 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France


Class of 2015 Orientation Week

Meredith College’s class of 2015 moved onto campus Saturday August 13th.  As they arrived on campus they were greeted by members of Meredith’s Orientation Crew.  Below you’ll read about one member of the crew’s experience during Orientation 2011. 

“I knew I was meant to be at Meredith College when I first arrived on my freshman move-in day, and was greeting by a beautiful balloon arch. Little did I know, this was only a taste of the magic that this amazing college would hold. Along with the balloon arch, there were current students joyfully welcoming me at the front entrance. They truly made me feel welcome to my new Meredith family! Little did I know, I would be one of those girls at the front drive my senior year!

Orientation is such a special time for the freshman class, because it allows one to get a glimpse of what Meredith College is all about. There is a lot that goes into preparing for the week of orientation; more than I ever realized. There is an orientation crew, which was made up of about 50 girls from the Sophomore, Junior, and Senior classes this year. Each day throughout the week prior to move-in, we worked very hard to ensure their orientation would run smoothly. The morning of their arrival, we were up at 5:30am creating the balloon arch, and getting in position with pots, pans, and whistles in hand, to welcome the Meredith College Class of 2015! The day following their arrival, a skit is preformed which helps the new students to get to know their campus resources. I had the pleasure of being the Skit Co-Chair this year, and took part in writing and actually performing in it. By writing the skit, I was able to take a part in choosing the theme, which this year was “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and worked with Orientation Crew, Campus Events staff, and Student Activities to get props and the whole production complete. The skit is definitely a fun even for not only the freshmen, but the current students as well! Later on in the week, the freshmen class, Student Advisors, and the Orientation Crew are invited to a dinner at the President’s house, before going to the Honor Code ceremony. Orientation week is a magical time for all on campus, and I feel very blessed to have been able to participate in it my last year at Meredith College!  Meredith College will always hold a very special place in my heart, and I will never forget the day I began my adventures in Wonderland.”

-Jordan Stewart, ’12 – Meredith College Senior

Lil Friends Weekend

Lil Friends Weekend, started in the early 1980s, is one of Meredith’s newer traditions.  This event gives Meredith students the opportunity to bring a ‘lil friend’ to stay with them for a weekend on Meredith’s campus.  Many students bring a child that they babysit for or even a younger sibling or cousin ranging from ages 4-12.  The weekend gives the children an opportunity to interact with one another, enjoy time with their favorite Meredith student, and spend the night away from home – a treat for both the children and parents!

This year’s Lil Friends Weekend took place March 18-19.  Over 164 lil friends joined the Meredith community for a fun filled weekend.  As with every other Meredith tradition, there of course was a theme…and a t-shirt.  This year’s theme was “Into the Wild”, based on a safari.  The bright green safari t-shirts were spotted all over campus!  On Friday night, the Meredith students and their lil friends enjoyed snacks and a dance party in the Cate Center.  Saturday was filled with fun activities such as swimming, a scavenger hunt, an inflatable bouncy house, an Aqua Angel performance, and other outdoor activities. It was a great weekend, and we enjoyed having all the children on campus.

Eleven years ago, at the age of nine, I decided that I wanted to attend Meredith College.  I had just attended Lil Friends Weekend with my older cousin, Kara Graves Miller, ‘03.  I had such a fun weekend, and I remember thinking that it was so cool that I was able to spend the weekend at college with my cousin.  This year I was able to bring my four year old cousin, Elisa Miller, who happens to be Kara’s daughter, to Lil Friends Weekend with me. It was such a great experience to spend that time with Elisa just like Kara and I did eleven years ago.

To make the whole weekend even better, two of my close friends brought lil friends of their own; we all had a great time together and the girls loved becoming new friends. We even got a picture of the “future” Meredith angels with our onyxes on their hands. I am already looking forward to next year when I’ll be able to bring both Elisa and her sister Charlotte.  And maybe, just maybe, one day the tradition will continue, and my child will be able to attend Lil Friends Weekend with one of them (that is – if they decide to come to Meredith… no pressure)!

– Betsy Graves, ’12

Kara Graves Miller, ’03 and Betsy Graves, ’12


Betsy Graves, ’12 and Elisa Miller

Class of 2012 Ring Dinner

“October 22, 2010 was truly “A Magical Night at the Top” for the Class of 2012. You could feel the anticipation and excitement as soon as you stepped off of the elevator and onto the twenty-first floor of the Capital City Club of Raleigh.  The view of the Raleigh skyline took my breath away as we approached our table, complete with purple, black and gold decorations which reflected the magical theme.  

Our evening began as the Ring Dinner tri-chairs welcomed us to the dinner; we could all see the excitement and satisfaction on their faces as the ceremony began.  As we all enjoyed our dinner, I looked around table number three and realized how lucky I was to be surrounded by my closest friends on this very special night.   Our 2012 Bathtub Ring served as our entertainment for the night.  While they preformed several of the traditional BTR songs, they finished up their set with a special song dedicated to our class.  Shortly thereafter, two representatives from the Young Alumnae Board presented the Ring Essay Contest winners.  Each year, the Young Alumnae Board holds an essay contest for the current junior class.  Each member of the class is invited to share an essay about what the Meredith College onyx means to them.  The first place winner of this contest, which is announced at Ring Dinner, wins a class ring!  Emily Pappas, who was also celebrating her 21st birthday, deservingly received first place in the contest.  Many of us could not hold back the tears as her poignant essay was read aloud.  Next, the Ring Week tri-chairs presented a poem to our class as we watched a slide show of images from the week leading up to our magical night. The slide show captured some of our memories from the week and reminded us of how excited we were to receive our own onyx rings. Dr. Jean Jackson was our guest speaker for the event.  She lightened the mood as she told us several stories about her experiences with her onyx.  And then… finally… it was time to slip our very own onyxes on our very own fingers.  I will never forget the moment that Dr. Jackson told us to put on our rings. I tried so hard to hold in my tears, but it was impossible.  The overflowing of emotion led to the appearance of tears in my first picture taken with my onyx.  I remember hugging all of my friends and taking pictures with what seemed like everyone in the room.  Those pictures will always mean the world to me.

Ring dinner was more than I could have ever imagined.   When I am an alumna of Meredith College, I know that I will look back on this night and remember the excitement that I shared with the class of 2012; it will be one of my most treasured memories for sure.   I have never felt so close to my Meredith sisters as I did that night; our class has grown extremely close during our time at Meredith and I am so grateful to have been a part of this timeless tradition.  I will have this ring on my right hand everyday for the rest of my life.  To me, my onyx represents my hard work and dedication during my time at Meredith. It also signifies the appreciation I feel towards the college, as well as a connection to all other Meredith graduates.”

– Christina Mendenhall , ’12

Class of 2011 Senior Parent Night

One of our newest features on Beyond the Back Gate is student reflections.  After each major event or tradition on campus, we will ask a current student to write a reflection on their experience to share with the alumnae community.  We will then post the stories and allow the alumnae to read about the event through the student’s eyes.  We hope that you will enjoy this glimpse into the lives of our current students and even more so, we hope that this will take you back to relive your experiences while you were a student at Meredith.  Enjoy!

“I remember being a freshman at Meredith College and hearing about all the traditions.  I was told about everything from Cornhuskin’ to Alice in Wonderland, from Ring Dinner to Crook Hunt.  I also remember hearing about Senior Parent Night but thinking that it was way too far off to give it much thought.  How wrong I was.  It came faster than I expected, and in many ways faster than I wanted.  But it came, and went, in the blink of an eye just like the past three years.

Senior Parent Night is a fairly new tradition here at Meredith.   It is, I think, yet another wonderful addition to our four years.   How could we Meredith women not spend an evening honoring the people who have loved and supported us, financially and emotionally?  They answered the phone and gave guidance when we were so stressed that we wondered if it was all worth it.  They came to Cornhuskin’ even though they had no idea what it was really all about.  They have been our biggest fans our entire lives.

This year’s Senior Parent Night was held in Johnson Hall’s rotunda.  And yes, of course, we had a theme: “Southern Soiree”.  The theme was reflected in all of the little details of the night: the desert and drink selections, the music choice and the gifts to our parents.   By having the event in Johnson Hall, I was able to show my parents the famous dolls I had talked about, and show them where in just a year the 2011 Class Doll will sit for all to admire.  Everything came full circle when my mom reminded me of the day I signed in for pre-registration the summer before my freshman year in this very beloved Rotunda.

Everything became real when I started working on the letter to my parents that I would give to them at Senior Parent Night.  How do you put it all into words?  As I wrote my letter, I pulled out the note my mom wrote to me at Tea for Two during my sophomore year.  I found myself at a loss for words.  I can’t express how grateful I am to my mom and dad for pushing me towards Meredith, for encouraging me to always do my best, for supporting me by coming to every crazy event I invited them to, and for always being proud of me.   The evening was a beautiful tribute to these amazing people who without, we would not have made it this far.  And I am forever thankful for their support.

At the end of our evening, as I watched my parents chat with other senior’s parents, I realized that not only would I be leaving a piece of my heart at Meredith College, but they would as well.  While I have loved every second of my college life, they have enjoyed it right along with me.   I guess you have to experience it to understand it.”

– Ellen Frazier, ’11

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