Studying and Growing Abroad
Scholarships and prestigious awards have enabled political science and peace and justice studies student Jessie Meredith ’16 to travel around the world and back again in pursuit of a career in urban planning and peace and justice.
Jessie Meredith ’16 doesn’t think of Pace as just a place for education; for her, Pace has enabled her to be a true citizen of the world. “I think it’s important to take ideas out of the classroom and into the world,” says Meredith, a Fulbright Scholar, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar, and Jeanette K. Watson Fellow. And as a political science and peace and justice studies double major, with a minor in Middle Eastern studies, she’s done exactly that.
She’s helped establish a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on campus and, through her Gilman Scholarship to study in Amman, Jordan, Meredith has worked to get students excited about studying abroad. “I would love to see more students going to untraditional locations, like the Middle East, because there is so much to gain from taking that extra step. Especially for students who don't think they have the means to do so,” she says.
Meredith’s existing interest in the Middle East led her to study Arabic at Pace and to study in Amman through the Gilman Scholarship from the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit organization that promotes international education and exchange. “Since I am a first-generation college student, and Jordan is an untraditional study abroad location, I was exactly the kind of student they look for,” she says.
During her studies in Amman, Meredith’s main goal was to improve her Arabic; however, she also interned at the Center for Study of the Built Environment, a nonprofit in Jordan that aims to address the challenges facing the country’s man-made spaces. Her internship and cultural immersion in Jordan helped her create a successful thesis about how the country is accommodating Palestinian and Syrian refugees; a topic she will continue to research through her year-long Fulbright award.
Additionally, becoming a Jeanette K. Watson Fellow played a major part in Meredith’s success, giving her valuable work experience, networking, and professional development training through the fellowship, which is awarded to 15 New York City students each year. “Being a part of the fellowship has done so much to develop my idea of success and my vision for my future,” she says. Through the fellowship, she will travel to India after graduation to spend her summer interning at the World Resources Institute and continue her work in urban planning.
From India, Meredith will return directly to Amman to conduct her Fulbright research. Once again, she looks forward to practicing her Arabic. “When I was studying abroad I got really good at it, but I still have a long way to go. That’s what I’m most excited for—to really perfect that,” she says. Part of her research will require interviewing refugees and speaking with them in Arabic, which both excites her and also intimidates her.
But in the meantime, Meredith is looking forward to wrapping up her finals and walking with her fellow classmates at Commencement, where she will graduate summa cum laude. It comes as no surprise that the 2016 Ella Baker Prize in Peace and Justice Studies will be presented to Meredith for her commitment to activism. She will also receive the Scholastic Achievement Award and Charles H. Dyson Award from the Dyson Society of Fellows, of which she is a member. Whatever the future holds for the hard-working Jessie Meredith on the world stage, it will be bright indeed.
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