This is Meredith’s second year as part of Mentor Foundation USA’s Youth Ambassador Network. She was lucky enough to travel to New York City to attend the “Shattering the Myths” rally and meet Queen Silvia of Sweden; an experience that has “stuck with [her].” Meredith was selected by faculty members her junior year to help facilitate and guide her peers to make healthy, drug-free decisions and ultimately reduce adolescent substance abuse in the highly vulnerable Hudson Valley. Columbia and Greene counties led New York State in under-18 substance abuse admissions in 2011.
She truly believes in the Youth Ambassador Network and feels it is a way to advocate for something important to her.
“We hadn’t had a program like this before and after the rally, it had a lasting effect upon the students,” she said. She feels it is far more interactive and relatable and more a “discussion and not a lecture.”
When asked whether it is reaching kids who are already struggling with substance abuse, she said it is “very hard” as the obstacles teens face today go far beyond education. It is about the “home life”; it is difficult to not only have adequate resources in schools but acknowledge those who do not always reach them outside the school, either.
(Living The Example) is anyone who can make the best out of a hard situation or improves from where they began. (It’s about) developing and nurturing your own interests and hobbies (while) discovering who you are and not being afraid of it. It’s about spreading positivity among peers and within yourself.
Meredith is excited for the Youth Ambassador Network to build upon their achievements last year. She aspires to expand beyond drug prevention goals in schools. At Ichabod Crane, some of the issues they are looking to cover include stress management, healthy food choices in the school, and supplying food to those in their community who may not have enough.
Even with her Youth Ambassador responsibilities, Meredith continues to busy herself with numerous leadership projects in both community service and academics. She is actively involved in the New Visions Performing Arts program out of Questar in Columbia County, serves as ICC’s Student Council Vice President, and works with the Albany Stake Youth Council to organize youth conferences for teens in the area. On top of all that, she is beginning to set her sights on college and is planning to attend Utah State University to study Marketing and Journalism with a focus in Corporate Communications.
Meredith said she is “too busy” to involve herself with illicit substances. Her family has a history of harmful activities. She said they have “overcome anxiety” while “looking to make the world a better place” – she strives to do the same.
She credits a great support system, feeling privileged to be surrounded by her family. Her mom is a first generation college student and now lawyer who “always makes the best of all situations.”
She believes that someone who is “living the example” is “anyone who can make the best out of a hard situation or improves from where they began.” Meredith lives these values every day and is a shining example of the Youth Ambassador Network.
Thank you, Meredith, for continuing to be a living example for your peers!
To learn more about the “Living The Example” campaign, visit livingtheexample.org.