Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Disappointment sometimes leads to a new way to win. From age 12 in Lordstown, Ohio, Meagan Gibson knew she wanted to play college volleyball. Practicing, playing and suffering through injuries paid off through a scholarship from Fairmont State University—but it came with a price.

“I received a medical redshirt my freshman year with the hopes of healing for the next season. I received cortisone shots, did specified strengthening programs and went through pounds of ice. It was a chilling experience, physically and mentally,” she said.

By the time she was a sophomore at age 20, Meagan led the league in kills, was a team captain and earned all conference honors. Unfortunately, the years of wear and tear left her with the knees of an 80-year-old and a difficult choice. For the first time, she had to imagine life without her identity as an athlete.

“I was now heading into territory for which I had not prepared or had every seriously considered. I needed other sources of financial aid, something to do with my time and my wounded pride. I joined the staff at our recreation center, loaded up on class hours and joined Student Government in an attempt to find new endeavors to ease my disappointment,” she said. “I took people up on offers. People dangled a carrot in front of me and I took it. Why wouldn’t I want the opportunity?”

A Political Science major, Megan added National Security and Intelligence as a second major and was selected to be a part of an elite team of NSI students gaining experience as security analysts in a hands-on lab.

“My professors really helped me. I have their phone numbers. They know you as a person,” she said. In fact, Meagan said that NSI faculty member David Abruzzino offered to recommend her as an intern for a U.S. senator and made arrangements with NSI program coordinator Dr. Greg Noone to allow her to finish all her coursework online and graduate on time, if she was selected for the internship.

“They completely jump over barriers to help you succeed. I didn’t do the internship because I wanted to finish here on campus, but I really appreciated that,” she said.

Another internship did work out. Through the Frasure-Singleton internship program, Meagan spent a week in the State Capitol working for Sen. Bob Beach. She attended committee meetings and listened in, composed letters and edited proposals for changes in bills. She talked to the research staff in the Capitol and ran errands. She got to go with other interns to meet officials, including Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. She even attended the Governor’s Ball.

“It was really cool. I got to see all the senators and delegates out outside of their offices in a relaxed environment,” she said.

In April 2011, Meagan was elected Student Government President. She had always wanted to be part of Student Government, but never had the time when she was playing volleyball. As President, she is able to see her ideas become reality. Working with Director of Student Activities Laurie Johnston, Meagan had an idea for a clubs grant program that would allow student organizations to apply for $500 grants on a reimbursement basis. Once she and Laurie had a plan put together, Megan turned the project over to the Student Government treasurer, and the project launched at the beginning of the spring 2012 semester. Another of her ideas is a club cup project that would result in healthy competition between student organizations, which would battle for points throughout the academic year awarded for participation in campus events—loosely based on the house cup competition in a certain series of movies about a boy wizard.

“My friends know I love ‘Harry Potter.’ Fairmont State is my Hogwarts. I identify with Harry. For the first time, I found somewhere where I finally belong. I never had that feeling before. I came here and I know I fit in, and it’s comfortable. This place is very warm and inviting. I love Fairmont State,” Meagan said.

 Disappointment may have created a temporary setback, but Meagan didn’t let it derail her future plans.

“Within a year, I had bounced back. I had gone from being a jock, to a broken young woman, to a student leader. It turned out I earned so much more after enduring what I thought was my biggest downfall,” she said. “Having goals is important. Planning is essential. But always be prepared to make game plan adjustments in order to win.”

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