Advice for Freshmen on the Honors Curriculum
The following message was delivered by Liz Yaros, Meredith Honors graduate of 2006, to the entering Honors class of 2010. While at Meredith, Liz earned a triple major in international business, marketing, and Spanish. She earned her Master's of Accounting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007, and completed her Master's of International Studies from NCSU in May 2010. Currenlty, she is employed at Meredith College as the Assistant Director of the Office of International Programs.
Hello and good evening to former professors, kind staff, dedicated student advisors, and welcome to my honors sisters, and the honors Class of 2010. As some of you know, my name is Liz Yaros, and I am a member of the Class of 2006. I always love having excuses to come back to Meredith, so I thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk with you tonight.
So….WELCOME TO MEREDITH!! 1,969,920. Let me give you that number one more time. 1,969,920. That is approximately the number of minutes you have left as a Meredith College student, and this week is only the beginning.
I remember what it was like to be an incoming freshman. No doubt you have been through orientation, you've met hundreds of new people, and you've been summoned to every meeting imaginable to digest lots of information. Everything is new, every face is different, and every minute is filled with choices. But take courage and be excited!
I want you to be excited because this is the beginning, the dawn of your Meredith Experience. You may be wondering, what does the future hold for me here at Meredith? Am I going to like it here? For some of you your hearts may be flooded with questions, for others there may not be a single doubt in your mind. I'm here to give you a tiny glimpse into the Meredith Experience.
What is the Meredith Experience? Well, rather than spout advice at you, I thought I might give you a little taste of what the it was like for me, and perhaps then you can gleam some insight as to what awaits you as you begin your Meredith Journey.
When I first came to Meredith as a freshman and started my new life as an honors student, I thought I knew everything. I had my entire life planned, laid out, like a blue print, down to the very last detail. My plan was to graduate in three years with a major in business and a minor in Spanish. I could see the future, and I knew what was right for me—or so I thought. Everyone around me wondered why I wanted to rush through my college experience, and to be honest, I could not give them a clear, decisive, or valid reason why.
Little did I know what my Meredith Experience would hold…and little did I know that it would completely change my path and my outlook on life.
So, my freshman year went on…my sophomore year too. I was involved in the honors program, made friends, took all the right classes, made good grades…and still every day felt rushed.
August of my junior year came so quickly and I was faced with the reality that by my own design, this was my third and final year at Meredith. I spent that fall of my junior year sifting through my reasons for wanting to graduate early and I always came up blank.
What was the rush, anyway? What was I trying to prove?
Then the final night of Cornhuskin' came. And for those of you who don't know what Cornhuskin' is…I'm sure you already know that, "you just have to experience it." Life, for me, from this day on would never be the same.
The front drive was all abuzz for the Cornhuskin' parade…the rainbow balloons lined the front drive up to Johnson Hall, the marching band followed behind us, music and cheering filled the air. Meredith College was alive! Everyone had come out to watch the parade on that bright November day. I rode up the front drive on the back of a pickup truck, and I had "Class of 05" painted on my face. I was smiling and cheering, but something was not right, and I could feel it.
All of a sudden, the world slowed down, and there I stood gazing into the crowd of spectators and I saw my life and like a flash of lightening I saw myself in a different way. I guess some people call them "light bulb" moments. I was looking into the faces of my professors, my friends, my memories, memories yet to be made, experiences yet to be fulfilled, experiences that might not be. I knew then that I had to make the decision to stay. Somehow, I was able to realize it before it was too late. I can safely say that that was one of the happiest moments of my college career. I asked the registrar to change my graduation date back to its original day, and began even a new chapter in my life as a Meredith student.
I understand now that it was not the day that changed my life—it was the Meredith Experience. It was the culmination of so many things. It was the love, support, and advice that I received from my faculty, it was the loving relationships I had made with my sister classmates, it was the academic challenge, the chances to learn, and it was the study abroad opportunities. I stayed and let me tell you why:
The faculty at Meredith had become the stars in my sky and had enriched my life beyond anything I thought possible. They are people I could bounce my ideas off of…they were my reality checks, my encouragement, my strength. There was always someone there to push me to meet my fullest potential whether academically or personally. But they always reminded me to slow down and to simply enjoy existing. Your faculty are not only a part of the Meredith Experience, they are the pillars that hold it up and keep it strong. Look to your faculty for guidance, support, and challenge. They are here to build you up and help you chase your dreams. I can attest from personal experience that there are heroes sitting in this room. I hope you find yours here at Meredith too. And I hope you become one someday. Appreciate your faculty and know that they appreciate you too.
Moving on to study abroad: My study abroad trip to Spain taught me that I was capable of pretty amazing things, and fostered within me even more so, a passion for traveling and a passion for the Spanish language.
During the summer of my junior year I also participated in the Italy/Switzerland study abroad program. I began that journey through Europe with 22 strangers, and came home with 22 new best friends. I also learned to appreciate the importance and beauty of my existing relationships. Studying abroad can be a scary thing. Being committed to studying abroad means that you must be open to change, to be proven wrong, to be stretched, and pulled, and molded. Studying abroad puts you at risk because you might be endowed with a sense of adventure for the rest of your life, and that will change who you are and who you want to become, and where you will want to go. Studying abroad will take you to places you have never been, throughout the world and in your soul. And as they say, "if you go early, you can go often."
What does it mean to be an honors student at Meredith college?
Wow, that is a loaded question.
Being in the Honors Program is more that just a set of requirements, a thesis, lots of work, special classes and trips to the beach…it must be a way of life. My Meredith Experience taught me that to be an honors student, really simply to be a Meredith Woman means to square your shoulders, to look people in the eye and to give them honesty, encouragement and love. It means to shine with integrity, to believe in yourself, and to be patient with yourself. It means to question.
It means to not be so afraid of change that you hide from it. It means to engage in something even though it's going to be hard. Being an honors student means to do things for the joy of learning.
Academic, social, and personal opportunities for growth abound in this place. And I encourage you to take advantage of every moment of your time here. Get involved. Work hard. Settle for nothing less than honesty.
Find your passion. Wake up every morning excited to be doing what you are doing, and if you are not, find what makes you happy and go for it. Remember that nothing is beyond your reach. Study abroad. Take time to spend with your friends—you will not find a more talented, caring, intelligent, strong group of young women than your colleagues sitting with you tonight. Give each other strength. Be there for each other. Do not waste a single moment. But do not rush either. Seize the day, ladies, but stop to smell those roses sometimes.
Start today. Every day won't be easy, and some days will be hard. But believe me, honors class of 2010, you are loved and supported by all of us who dream of all of the wonderful things you can do. Meredith College will provide you with the tools, the foundation, the heart, and the love to do anything you set your mind to.
Make an impression on someone, build relationships that last a lifetime and leave your own fingerprint on the Meredith canvas.
My hope and my wish for you as honors students is that you learn to seize the day in every facet of your Meredith College life. And that you will fall in love with Meredith and everyone that has been captured by her light, just as much as I have.
I leave you with this quote by Mary Anne Radmacher and I think she captures all of what I was trying to say.
"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is."
Now that I've taken up 10 minutes of your time, you have 1,969,910 minutes left.
We expect nothing but wonderful things from you.
I invite you to soar from the tops of mountains, ladies! It's your turn to fly!