A member of James Madison Memorial High School’s Class of 2012, Meredith Paker now studies Economics, Math and Computer Science at the University of Georgia in Athens, where she won a full-ride merit scholarship in her senior year at Memorial.
In November 2015, she was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, a merit scholarship sponsored by the United Kingdom to pursue graduate studies in the UK. There she’ll spend the next two years working toward a Master’s Degree in Economic History at the University of Oxford. Read more.
What was your experience like at Memorial?
I can’t think of a better place I could have spent my high school years! Memorial (JMM) is a special place because of the many amazing teachers and administrators that work there. Like many students from my time there, I’ll never forget the incredible presence and support of Mr. Dahmen, who cared so deeply about each one of us. I know his work and his spirit lives on through Mr. Affeldt, who was an important mentor to me and now to so many JMM students in his new position.
Every teacher I had at Memorial was caring and hardworking and deserves a big thank you. I especially thank my English teachers (Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Jones, Mr. Vander Ark and Ms. Glaaser) for turning me into a lifelong reader, my band teacher (Mr. Ulrich) for sharing his love of music with me and my Calculus and Economics teachers (Ms. Yahr and Mr. Raabe, respectively) for preparing me to handle college coursework.
What did you do at Memorial when you weren’t studying?
I was an athlete at JMM—I tried swimming, cross-country, and tennis in the fall, played basketball in the winter and ran track in the spring. I loved high school sports for the camaraderie and the challenge, and many of my best friends were first my teammates. In every sport, my coaches were amazing role models who cared so much about all of their athletes and who helped us do our very best. I also was involved in student government at the school and district level.
I was also a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Student Voice, which is an amazing organization at JMM that brings the concerns of students to school administrators. These experiences inspired me to run for the position of Alternate Student Liaison to the Board of Education, where I worked with students from all of the district high schools to ensure their voices would be heard in the development of school board policies.
In college, I’ve been a radio DJ all four years at my student-run campus station, WUOG 90.5FM. I’ve also been leading a Girl Scout troop in a local community and playing on an intramural co-ed basketball team.
“Trust thyself—every heart vibrates to that iron string” from Emerson’s Self-Reliance. Like many incoming high school juniors at JMM, I had to read this difficult text over the summer. Though it was a challenging read, it really shaped my perspective. It’s hard to trust yourself when you’re young, when you’re still learning, and when you’re a novice in your field, but it’s so important and is something I still think about and work on often.