Meredith Brown ’14 wanted to set an example for her four children, so she returned to college after a 20-year absence with two goals in mind: graduate with a 4.0 GPA and become a teacher.
Meredith Brown often jokes that it took her 20 years to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. But it’s also true, she said.
A Florida native, Brown had started college more than 20 years ago but didn’t finish. She went on to have a daughter and three sons, and eventually moved with her family to Lillington, N.C. When her youngest son started school, she began volunteering there. She had been working alongside the same teacher for two years when the school’s principal asked her to serve as a substitute for a reading recovery teacher on maternity leave.
As a substitute, Brown worked with a small group of students struggling to read. She found it rewarding. So the following year, when asked to serve as a substitute for another teacher on an extended maternity leave, she said yes again. This time, she substituted for a first-grade class. She enjoyed that experience, too.
“I had found something that I loved doing,” Brown said. “I wanted my own classroom.” She set out to become a teacher.
After completing an online associate’s degree program through Tallahassee Community College, near where she grew up, she enrolled in Campbell University’s School of Education. The campus was beautiful, she said, and many of the teachers she got to know through her volunteer and substitute teaching experiences had attended Campbell.
“It was a little odd at times” to be an older student in college, she said. “But honestly, I have loved being at Campbell.” She developed strong friendships with other students and found the professors and other School of Education staff to be approachable and willing to discuss any problems or concerns. She also completed her field experience at Anderson Creek Primary, in Bunnlevel, where she volunteered three times a week with the same teacher.
She thrived in the environment. In her first semester, she earned a 4.0 GPA. Her children were proud. “I remember my oldest son being the most impressed, which is really saying something,” she said.
She wanted to set a good example for them and show them hard work pays off and the importance of setting goals. She strove to maintain a 4.0 GPA for the next semester, too, and then the next and next. She maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her entire Campbell experience.
Brown graduated, with a degree in elementary education and a concentration in English, from Campbell on May 10 with her four children, now ranging in ages from 11 to 16, in attendance.
“I was very vocal with my kids about what I wanted to do once I graduated,” she said. “Now that I will be doing that they see all my hard work paid off.”–Cherry Crayton