Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
In the early afternoon on Thursday, August 2, 2012, Meghan Musnicki took off on the ride of her life. Eight athletes focused on becoming one, rowing with a combined strength and fluidity that made them seem to fly over the surface of the water. The coxswain set the pace and shouted encouragement from the stern of the shell. Nobody could catch them.
In over two years of training with the U.S. Rowing team, Meghan won a handful of medals, including gold at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. But in the cool waters of Eton Dorney, Meghan’s greatest rowing goal was realized—the U.S. women’s eight had won Olympic gold.
Before joining crew at Ithaca College, Meghan could not have known that rowing would be part of her life after graduation. She transferred to Ithaca as a sophomore psychology major. "They were all very welcoming and friendly. They didn't make me feel like I was an outsider even though I had just transferred in the middle of the year," Meghan recalls.
The camaraderie Meghan felt only grew from there, as she formed lasting friendships with her teammates and coach, Becky Robinson. The team trained hard together and saw competitive success along the way. They won two NCAA titles, and Meghan was a 2005 first-team Division III all-American. It was then that she first saw the possibility of rowing in her future.
After graduation, Meghan decided to pursue a career in nursing. She applied to a number of accelerated nursing programs and was accepted—but the call of the water was strong. She had begun training more regularly and intensely, and put nursing on hold to work toward her Olympic dream. Among the many things she carries with her from her time at Ithaca College is the drive to be the best rower she can be.
"I love to win. I've always had a passion to compete, train, and be fast. It takes a level of commitment, drive, and willingness to push yourself beyond where you think you can go."
» More on this story: Women's Crew
Plumpy’nut is a peanut butter paste fortified with vitamins. Because it can reverse the ravages of malnutrition in as few as two weeks, Doctors Without Borders dubbed the lifesaving concoction "a revolution in nutritional affairs." Integrated marketing communications major Elizabeth Stoltz ’13 first read about Plumpy’nut in high school.
"I'd been disheartened about the tragic effects of childhood malnutrition in Africa and was stunned that such an easy solution existed," she said. "I wanted be part of that solution."
So she organized a 5K walk that raised $5,000 to support Plumpy’nut distribution in Ethiopia. Inspired by that success, Elizabeth established Food for Thought, a nonprofit that was initially dedicated to raising money for more Plumpy’nut deliveries. After doing summer relief work in Ethiopia, Elizabeth arrived at IC and founded a student chapter of Food for Thought. The college provided fertile ground for her organization.
"Being a Park scholar, I was surrounded by students who shared my commitment to improving the lives of others," says Elizabeth, referring to a scholarship program at IC that couples academic achievement with community service. "As a freshman, I was already implementing classroom lessons in marketing and public relations to make a social impact."
That impact has broadened.
"Every week, students pitch causes they feel Food for Thought can advance," she said. "Besides two local Plumpy’nut walks, which raised our total support to $20,000, Food for Thought has supported orphanages in Russia, Peru, and Nicaragua. We also organized a cupcake sale that raised $1,600, the cost of a one-year scholarship for a student at a school in India. Starting with five people on the executive board, Food for Thought now has a full house at rush nights."
Elizabeth’s relief efforts have garnered national recognition. As her junior year draws to a close, she is one of 162 American college students to be named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow. Bestowed by Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents, the award honors undergraduates who engage their fellow students in civic and social responsibilities.
Ironically, as word spreads about Elizabeth’s leadership ability, she feels it’s time, with her senior year approaching, to step down as president of Food for Thought and make way for younger leadership—the first transition, she hopes, of many.
"After I graduate, I’ll be looking at bigger PR firms in Washington, D.C., as good places to integrate relief work with public relations skills,” she said. “But wherever I go, Plumpy’nut and Food for Thought will be in my blood. In 15 years, I want to come back and be blown away by how far IC students have taken the organization."
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
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