MSHE Alumni Spotlight: Meredith Smith

MSHE Alumni Spotlight: Meredith Smith

By Chris Neary

meredith-smith_msheadlines.jpgMeredith Smith (MS’14), the new University Title IX Coordinator at University of Virginia, showcases equity and inclusion at her day-to-day job. Her insights provide information on her current role, and how this position is influencing initiatives at her higher education institution. Click here to read the entire transcript of Meredith's interview with MSHE Graduate Assistant Samantha Fleischner.

Samantha Fleischner: How has your MSHE education shaped your career as a higher education professional?

Meredith Smith (she/her): It has changed everything. I knew that I wanted to do this work, so I went and got my master’s degree at my dream school. After just one year, I was able to get a full-time job at Dartmouth. There, I found what I really cared about which was Title IX. I got to write my master’s thesis on Title IX and because of that, I got hired to be the deputy Title IX Coordinator at UConn. From there, I went to Tulane, and now UVA head-hunted me. I would not be where I am if it weren't for the fact that I had this degree and attended this program.

Fleischner: What’s one piece of advice you’ve received that you’d pass on to current MSHE students or alumni about incorporating justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into the workplace?

Smith: It shouldn't just be the work of people who are in Title IX or DEI positions. This is the job of everyone. My best example is back at Tulane, the library felt passionate about sexual assaults and violence. They wanted to get involved, so out of their own violation, twice a year, they would put displays around in the library publicizing the issues. They also created a database for notable research, books, and literature while teaching people how they could search for these articles. That was an amazing thing to see because they said “this matters to us, this is important to us,” and every year, they would do training and education for themselves and others around how to prevent sexual assault and how to how to be better for the students who basically live in the library. They wanted to create an inclusive environment, and they are some of the best partners on campus because they said “this matters” and every single employee can say the same thing.

Every single employee can find an issue that matters to them, educate themselves and train themselves. Then, when you work in a larger department, how do you take your department and get that kind of investment from others, and how do you be proactive? Every single person in every single office and space can make these kinds of commitments and say this isn't just the work of one small piece of this institution, this is everybody's work every single day, and how do I create an inclusive community that pushes back against these cultures that I find to be important and define the university?

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