Honors Students Reflect on Holiday Break

As Honors students return to campus and adjust back to the hustle and bustle of college, many students are excited about what the new semester will bring, but also thankful for the time they were able to spend with friends, family, and loved ones. Below are excerpts from a few Honors students in which they discuss how they spent the holiday season.

“My holiday break was fun and relaxing! I went home to my family in Chapel Hill. We actually just moved, so it was the first time everyone was in the new house! Right before Christmas, we visited my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who all live in South Carolina. I enjoyed delicious food, fun games, and movies with hot cocoa. I even got to spend time with my friends and my cat, Moses!”

-Kristen Viera, Class of 2021


Kristen Viera, middle, is pictured with two of her relatives.

“I was at home in Willow Springs, NC for most of the holiday break.  My mom’s family is local (they live in Buies Creek and Raleigh), so we spent time with them on Christmas and on my grandmother’s birthday.  We also visited my dad’s family in South Carolina for a few days. Probably my favorite part of break was staying with my best friend at her house in Charlotte and meeting her adorable puppy, Avery.  All in all, it was a fun and relaxing break.”

-Jane Kelley, Class of 2019


Jane Kelley, standing second from right, poses for a photo with her family.

“Over the holiday break, I made sure to cherish every last moment of 2018 with my family and friends because soon I will be embarking on a 22 hour trip to study abroad for a semester in Sydney, Australia! Holiday break consisted of lots of laughter, cookies, and good times. Spending time with loved ones is truly what makes life magical!”

-Fareena Qamar, Class of 2020

Students: Keep Going Strong!! Happy New Year, and best of luck in all of your endeavors this semester!


Caroline in the City of Light

Note: Caroline G. ’19 is a dual-degree Honors junior. She is preparing a BSW and a BA in Psychology. This past spring, she received an Honors study abroad scholarship for a month of study in Paris, where she is today. Here is Caroline’s blog post from the French capital:
Thanks to the support of the Honors program, I have been fortunate to spend the 
last three weeks studying social work in Paris, France, with L’​École Pratique de Service Socia​l (EPSS). Each July, the EPSS offers a month-long course taught in English for international students, professors, and professionals in social work and related fields. Through the program, I have met people from Tajikistan, Czech Republic, Canada, Romania, Mexico, and the US. 
IMG_20180702_005449_834 (2)

Paris at dusk, July 2018

Since a brief visit to Paris at the end of high school, I have wanted to return to the City of Light. Summer school at EPSS combines lectures, group visits to social service agencies, and individual or paired placements for an immersive experience across many social work topics: homelessness, mental health, child protection, and more.
At the end of our first week, we traveled to France’s Loire Valley, visiting Blois, Cheverny, Amboise, Chambord, and Chenonceaux to discover the beautiful châteaux there.  Closer to Paris, we were introduced to more aspects of French social work through visits to Versailles, the ​Musée d’Orsay​, and the Louvre.
Attending an affiliate study abroad program alone exemplified to me the independence and courage that my experience at Meredith as an Honors student helped me to develop. I’m excited to close out this chapter in my life with a quick trip to Amsterdam. ​À​bientôt​, Meredith College! 

Honors news from Italy

Since 2015, twelve (12) Honors students have received a total of $35K in Honors study abroad scholarships for study in Denmark, England, France, Italy, and Mexico. Application materials for 2019 scholarships will be sent to Honors students in early December.

Today’s bloggers are Honors students Christa Soyars ’20 (Public Health / PSY) and Victoria Penna ’19 (BIO / PSY). Both are recipients of 2018 Honors study abroad scholarships and both are studying in Italy this very month! Read on . . .

After living in Sansepolcro for three weeks, I was reminded about how important it is to surround yourself with a community of supportive and encouraging people. From the moment I arrived, I felt so welcomed by everyone I met in this tight-knit community.

Anghiari flowers

The author visits the medieval hilltop town of Anghiari, near Sansepolcro

Each week, we were fortunate to spend time learning about the Italian language, food, and festivals from a group of locals. From figuring out how to properly taste olive oil to watching the traditional Sbandieratori flag show, it was evident that the people of Sansepolcro truly care about each other, their community, and their culture.

During our travel break, I ventured off to nearby Siena. Learning how to travel independently was a liberating experience I will never forget! I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to travel all around Italy and realize how fortunate I am to have found a supportive community at Meredith College.

–Christa Soyars


This summer I was granted the opportunity to be a part of the Exploring Cultures Through Service program in Italy.  I had such an amazing experience while abroad.  I visited new cities, served in the community, tasted almost every gelato flavor, made

Penna in Italia

The author takes a break during her Exploring Cultures Through Service program

fantastic new friends, and so much more.

This was an experience I had been contemplating pursuing for a long time, and I am so thankful that I didn’t let my worries prevent me from missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Studying abroad gave me greater confidence as well as a global perspective that I would not have gained otherwise.

I am so thankful for the Honors Program, not only for awarding me with a scholarship to make this dream a reality, but also for molding me into a strong student able to take on the academic challenge of completing a three-week course while abroad.

–Victoria Penna

Coming later this year: a blog from Paris by Honors student Caroline Garrett and a couple more from London by Honors senior Mary Kolisnichenko.

An End-of-Semester Bucket List

yeahBy Mimi Mays
All the things that have been up in the air this semester are finally falling to the ground. Though it may seem like just yesterday that we were reading syllabi and wearing mittens, fewer than three weeks stand between Honors students and summer break. Until before we’re obliged to kick this semester’s bucket, here’s a list of five ways to make the most of your final days.
  1. Hug a graduating senior. They’re only around for so much longer and you’ll miss them when they’re gone! Give one a hug, or a respectful handshake, and tell them how much they mean to you.
  2. Fill out your course evaluations. Take a minute to express your gratitude to your faculty members, too! Or, give some constructive criticism. Both are appreciated.
  3. Take a walk through the seniors’ tunnel. Besides being some likely-needed exercise, a trip to the tunnel is special because it’ll never be the same! Even in the fall before the next painting, you won’t have the same outlook or the same memories to reflect on between the cool cement walls.
  4. Soak up the arts. Meredith arts programs have so much to offer this month: the play Marie Antoinette, the dance program’s Danceworks show, senior concerts, and more. Take a break from the books and cheer on (or politely applaud) your sisters.
  5. Have a study picnic outside. Check the forecast first, of course, but if the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining, take advantage. Some fresh air and warm rays might do you—and your brain—some good.

Where-oh-where did our New Year’s resolutions go?

By Mimi Mays

It would probably surprise most to hear that 20.27% of 2018 has passed since we rang in the new year! As tradition implores, many Honors students made resolutions for the new year, and some of us dutifully stayed their course while some of us were distracted by bigger and better things. Here are some Honors students’ resolutions and how they’ve weathered these 74 days.

Lauren Luke, Class of 2020

Lauren’s biggest resolution was to not consume any soda for as long as she could manage. Surprisingly to her, she’s actually stuck to it! Keep up the hard work.

Emily Chilton, Class of 2018

One of Emily’s resolutions was to read more for herself, particularly works outside her comfort zone. Her methods, including reading right before bed, have paid off, and she’s now reading more nonfiction than she had been.

Alexan Bailey, Class of 2019

Alexan made the resolution to go to the gym more, and for the first few weeks she was really making it work! But now that busyness has set in, she’s maintaining “Meredith Strong” more in academic pursuits than physical ones.


Katie Murphy, Class of 2018

Katie vowed to eat out at restaurants less, cooking more of her meals at home and always avoiding fast food. She and her roommate now cook dinner together twice a week, and she uses her weekends to prepare the week’s upcoming meals. She now eats out just two times a week, compared to 2017’s six times!

Emily Mitchum, Class of 2020

Emily made the unique resolution to say “sorry” only when genuine. She says it’s more difficult than she expected and that it has taught her a lot about the importance of language and its intent!

Kirby Forbes, Class of 2019

Kirby’s big 2018 goal was to journal weekly in her new devotion book. She’s succeeded every week, though sometimes it happens a little late. Sounds familiar, I admit! Good job keeping up.


The 2018 Mere-lympic Games

By Mimi Mays

The 23rd Olympic Winter Games are underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with some outstanding competition so far. But let’s leave snowboarding to Chloe Kim and figure skating to Mirai Nagasu; in which events would Honors students compete if the Olympic Games were held right here at Meredith?

*cue Olympic march*

The race to the expression board; who can publicize their club or organization first?

Which volunteer can sign up the most people to buy the $3 Honors t-shirts?? It could be you…sign up to help at http://bit.ly/2FgnJGE 🙂


The 200-yard sprint…from BDH to 2nd Joyner two minutes before your class starts; sound familiar?

Cross-country golf-carting, something in which the Meredith staff would likely win gold!

Bowling: surprisingly not an official Olympic sport, and a very popular course at Meredith.

The traditional biathlon is skiing and pea-shooting, but at Meredith, a student does a lap around the library, then runs inside to print her 13-page lab notebook before microbiology.

What do you think? Should we call the International Olympic Committee?? First we’ll need some adjudicators, and I hope Meredith Honors athletes are up to the task…Erica Occena? Ansley Harris? Julia Allsbrook? Hit me up.

5 Things Even Honors Students Don’t Know About Meredith…

By Mimi Mays

Lots of things have changed here at Meredith over the years, and most students have heard the most notable facts—our old Baptist affiliation, the old horse stables, and the floor pattern in the Science and Math building. But some things have slipped past the informational pamphlets…here are five things you probably don’t know about Meredith’s history.

  1. There was once a Krispy Kreme shop in the south-east corner of campus, and it was one of the only places students were allowed to walk to—we didn’t always have an open campus.
  2. Before the Wolfline, a trolley car used to run down Hillsborough Street, taking passengers from Meredith to downtown Raleigh.
  3. While today it’s used as the Infant and Toddler Center, The Ellen Brewer House used to serve as a “lab home”. Students majoring in Home Economics could practice running a home, managing a budget, and preparing meals. Practical or patriarchal? You can decide for yourself.
  4. As many know, Meredith’s graduate programs are now coeducational. They used to be women-only, as the undergraduate programs still are, and when the change to the graduate programs was first proposed, students staged a protest in the Rotunda.
  5. Dancing was once forbidden on Meredith’s campus. That’s right, we were a regular Footloose town!

Hillsborough Street trolley line

Facts courtesy of Vice President Dr. Jean Jackson and Meredith alum Jeanne Mays, class of ’48.
Photo courtesy of Goodnight Raleigh.

A season of thankfulness

by Caroline Diorio
In light of Thanksgiving, we asked a few Honors students to tell us what they are thankful for.
Helina Biru
This Thanksgiving, I want to remember and embrace those who enrich my life. I am thankful for my family, friends, professors, and community who stand by my side and challenge me to become a better person everyday. I want to let you know how special you are, and that I appreciate you every single day for your constant support and encouragement. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
Shila Alexander 
I’m thankful for being able to be comfortable in my own skin, to have friends that have supported me through my few months here at Meredith, and for my family, who has never given up on me, my dreams, and my aspirations.
Tasia Bromell
I am thankful for the support system I have. Whether it be my family or the sisters I have gained since being here at Meredith, I am grateful for all of the love I receive on a daily basis.


Emily Chilton
This year, I’m thankful for support. I have felt incredibly cared for and supported this semester by my family, my friends, my class, my fellow students, and my professors. I feel so blessed to not only have parents and grandparents and a sibling, but also a community of Meredith students and faculty that is supportive and encouraging.

Spotlight on Study Abroad: Seeing Assisi

Honors student Jordan Stellar describes one memorable night in her study abroad location of Assisi, Italy:

One Friday night as we explored the small town of Assisi, all seemed fine until dark clouds quickly rolled in overhead, and the rain started to hit us from all directions. With limited directional skills, wet clothes, and empty stomachs we made it to the only bus stop in town.

At the station, we got the number of a local taxi driver named Stefano. Hesitantly, I called the number and he answered with an abrupt “Pronto!” After a quick explanation of our situation, he agreed to pick us up in ten minutes. Stefano arrived right on time in taxi #18. He took one look at us and knew we were with the group of American girls he took to a small farm house earlier in the evening. I think Stefano could tell we had had a rough night because about five minutes into the ride he turned off the meter. My first thought was to be a little suspicious so we pulled up a GPS route on our phone to make sure he was going in the right direction; thankfully he was.

We pulled up to the Airbnb we had rented for the night, and he walked us all the way to the door to make sure we made it safely. We opened the door, and he greeted the rest of our group which he had met earlier in the night. It was such a nice welcome to Assisi, and such a great reminder of how friendly people make an experience so much greater.

jordan stellar

“Wait, you go to a women’s college?”

by Caroline Diorio, ’20

Hello everyone! So as most of you know, attending Meredith is a huge honor. However, going to a women’s college in this day and age can raise some interesting (sometimes exasperating) questions from those around you. With that in mind, I’ve decided to kick off the first Honors blog post of the year with a short list of fun answers you can use the next time someone feels the need to comment on your school of choice. Enjoy!


Question #1: “So is Meredith just one big convent?”

Answer: It most certainly is! We Meredith students completely ignore our male professors,  friends, boyfriends, husbands, and family members from freshmen orientation all the way through graduation. In fact, were it not for the Captain America poster in my room, I may very well have forgotten what a man looks like altogether.


Question #2: “Is it true that women who go to Meredith are just looking for their MRS degree? You know, because NC State is right down the road?”

Answer: Yes. Because everyone knows that the easiest way to find a husband is by going to a school with no male undergrads instead of the co-ed school that is, in fact, right down the road. After all, there’s no way that a young woman would choose to attend Meredith simply because she values a learning environment full of strong women who value their educations and their futures.


Question #3: “So what is Cornhuskin’ really?”

Answer: Cornhuskin’ is an ancient ritual where Meredith students pay tribute to the Mighty Cob, an all-powerful corn goddess that protects us from poor grades, cumulative exams, and the construction on Hillsborough street. Cornhuskin’ is a time of sisterhood, fellowship, and the occasional human sacrifice. However, if a human sacrifice cannot be provided, the Mighty Cob will also accept Cabin Socks and a $25 gift card to Cup-A-Joe (the one on Hillsborough Street is preferred).


Question #4: “What happens to the boys who get caught in the dorms past visiting hours?”

Answer: See answer to Question #3.



Actual photo of the Mighty Cob