Meg Quinn believes she would never be where she is today without her experience at the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees McRae College in Banner Elk. When she arrived at NOSW in July 2010, she had low self-esteem and no idea what the program would entail. What she found in the three week intensive session was life-changing.
Although Meg was raised in a comfortable, supportive family, she felt she never succeeded or measured up. After graduating from Watauga High School, she worked and moved around, eventually settling in South Carolina where she worked in the lighting industry for 15 years. She attended His Vineyard Church where she grew in her faith. Following the economic downturn of 2008, Meg realized her earning potential and career advancement opportunities were limited with her employer and decided to return to Boone. Back home, Meg busied herself working in the hospitality industry and starting her own pet-sitting business while asking God’s direction for her life. While exploring other employment options, Meg stumbled across a NOSW brochure less than a week before the 2010 session began. She was registered, accepted and in place in one whirlwind week. “I have to believe that God puts you exactly where you are supposed to be,” Meg says.
“The three-week NOSW program was hard, intense and wonderful all at the same time,” Meg says. Through the classes and activities, her self-esteem blossomed. As groups of women in the community reached out to the participants, Meg says, “I will never forget how blessed I felt.” When Dr. Jane Stephenson spoke about the beginnings of NOSW, Meg was inspired. Hearing how one woman started a program that was impacting the lives of so many women, Meg knew she wanted to help other women believe in themselves and achieve dreams. “From that point on, I have been working to do just that,” she says.
As part of the three-week program, students were assigned internships in different work environments. “Little did I know how the program and my internship would change my life,” says Meg. Her internship at the Lees McRae Summer Theater box office led to a summer job there the next summer — and an invitation to assist with the 2011 NOSW session. Talking with another NOSW student about their mutual desires to go to college led to applying, being accepted and attending Lees McRae for the next four years. “God swung that door so wide open it fell off the hinges,” says Meg. “So many details just fell into place in record time. I was able to live on campus with my dog! How often does that happen?” Meg and her NOSW friend started college in the fall of 2011 and both graduated in May 2015. Meg, who admits to not being an outstanding student previously, was ready for the challenge and graduated with a 3.8 grade point average. “I finished at the top of my class with bachelor of science degrees in criminal justice and psychology.” She was awarded the Criminal Justice Award, as well.
“The students on campus called me ‘Mama Meg,’ she says. “I made good friends with many of them, and I helped some of them believe in themselves.”
Since graduating, Meg has accepted a position as the director of the NOSW at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Va., where she will be passing along the inspiration and tools that she received at Lees McRae. “Never would I have dreamed going to a three-week program would enrich and bless my life on so many levels,” she says. “When I say it was life-changing, that is an understatement. I would never be where I am today without the NOSW helping me realize I am worthy and important, and that I can make a difference. I will be forever changed by the program and the people of NOSW.”
Sharon Carlton, High Country Courtesies ©2016 Sharon Carlton writes and speaks on modern etiquette and life skill topics. She conducts High Country Courtesies Dining Etiquette and Customer Service Workshops. Contact her at email@example.com