Alumna of the Month: March 2009
Meredith Poulten '73
What is your edge (strength)?
Empathy, communication and determination.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Hofstra gave me confidence, a well-rounded education, and an excellent background in psychology.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What was your major?
What was your favorite class?
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Life in Tower F.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I am an adjustment counselor in a high school. I run a program called the Walk-In Center, which is like a counseling/crisis center for kids. I started it more than 20 years ago with a grant, and it was chosen at the time as a model program for the state [Massachusetts].
Whom in your field do you most admire?
Anyone who has the determination to do whatever it takes to help a child.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I started as a guidance counselor and learned that students need a school-based person who is available to listen, support, and give counseling – and someone you don’t have to make an appointment and wait a week or two to see. Adolescents aren’t made that way – teaching them to deal with feelings is the best form of prevention.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Enjoy the total experience of college – and find something you’ll love to do for a career.
How do you balance work and life?
I make priorities, focus on the positive, and appreciate the small things.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Traveling, playing with grandchildren, and working part time consulting on peer counseling and other programs that foster resiliency and self-esteem in kids.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
So many – such as every time I have been able to teach a student to talk about his feelings rather than acting out self-destructively, every time a past graduate finds me to say thanks, or having my program receive an award for excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
The serenity prayer (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference). Also – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
A fierce believer in the power of prevention, self-esteem, and resiliency, Meredith Poulten has led numerous programs on substance abuse, coping skills, suicide prevention, parenting, and other topics of interest to the community. She has developed a multitude of programs for Medway High School in Massachusetts including a peer counseling program, a teen diversity group, and a health advisory program. Over the years, Meredith has received several dedications and awards from the school district, colleagues, and students.
Meredith graduated from Hofstra University in 1973 with an undergraduate degree in psychology, and went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Boston University. She began her career as a middle school guidance counselor and soon saw the need for more mental health services in the public schools. Meredith decided to continue her education, earning a social work license and completing more advanced clinical training in order to become an adjustment counselor.
In 1987 Meredith pursued a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Tirelessly petitioning the government for support to start a health education program, Meredith received the funding to establish a walk-in center at Medway High School in Massachusetts. The center is a counseling center located within the high school, which enables students to obtain much needed psychological services on site, in a timely manner, and with a familiar, trusted adult.
Meredith has given lectures to every section of the population, from young students to experienced colleagues. She believes strongly that an adolescent needs to see someone immediately when he or she has a perceived crisis, rather than waiting a week or more for an appointment with an outside therapist.
Outside the school, Meredith has been involved for more than 10 years in community organizations such as The Samaritans, The Consortium for the Primary Prevention of Substance Abuse, In the Best Interests of the Children, and an adolescent advisory board for a local women's health center.
Looking forward to retiring in June after 35 years in the public schools, Meredith is excited to enter a new phase of her career and her life. She enjoys spending time with her two daughters, watching proudly as both pursue careers in the field of education.