Portrait of Meredith Kearney
While at Temple, Meredith Kearney realized a career path in health education.
Photo credit: Betsy Manning

Meredith Kearney has always had a knack for talking about topics that can make other people uncomfortable.

As a peer educator in the Wellness Resource Center, she leads critical conversations about well-being and works in its Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and Education program.

“I grew up in an open household, but not every friend of mine had the opportunity to talk about the things I did,” she said. “I think holistic health is one of the most important parts of society, so I like to help folks evaluate and reflect without judgment.”

At Temple, Kearney found her passion for health education. But she began her college career undecided. When touring schools, she liked Temple’s University Studies division, which serves as a home to undeclared students.

Ultimately, Kearney chose Temple for its proximity to her hometown of Downingtown and because she could take various General Education courses while also exploring major classes.

“I took engineering, neuroscience and business classes. While I liked all of them individually, they weren’t what I wanted to do as a major,” she said. “Then during my sophomore year, I took a class about the fundamentals of public health in the U.S. It resonated with me so much that I declared my public health major. From there I’ve never looked back.”

She continued gaining inspiration from her public health classes, which taught her how to discuss stigmatizing topics such as STIs and drug and alcohol education while connecting with an audience.

Additionally, she’s interned for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Early Head Start program, which offers early childhood learning and support services to low-income families. Kearney has modernized and destigmatized its language and standardized grading assessments for families. “What I learned about health education at Temple directly impacts CHOP and the community it serves.”

She recently won Temple’s Diamond Award, the highest recognition by Student Affairs given to an undergraduate.

Upon graduation, Kearney hopes to work in higher education and earn a master’s degree. She aims to continue pursuing health education and potentially manage projects for nonprofit organizations.

She’s grateful for the community she has found at Temple, especially after starting college virtually because of COVID-19. She recalls the simple pleasure of studying with classmates after campus reopened. “Coming out of the pandemic, I thought ‘wow, it’s really fun to study with people. I haven’t done that before.’ I realized how much I like it here."

Despite the unprecedented circumstances during her first year, Kearney deems her experience invaluable. “If there’s one thing the Class of 2024 embodies it’s that perseverance conquers. From the beginning we had to adapt and overcome obstacles that nobody could have foreseen. We had to figure out what a virtual community was. It’s an amazing feat, and four years later we’re so much better for it.”

This story originally ran in Temple Now.