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Junior to get taste of international work

A semester in Albany is serving as a precursor for what will be a busy year for Beth Meah.

The 20-year-old junior from New York City will leave after the semester for Nicaragua, where she will work in rural areas with other members of the University’s Nicaragua Service-Learning Program. At the end of the summer, Meah will travel to South Africa, helping to build child-care centers and assisting those with HIV/AIDS. The South African trip is through the Renaissance Group, an initiative formed by the Magic Johnson Foundation. Meah is a Taylor Michaels scholar of the foundation.

“I’ve found myself gravitating toward humanitarian work,” said Meah, a human development major who will be making her first trips out of the country. “Wanting to give back is something that comes naturally to me.”

Meah will continue her explorations next spring, when she spends the semester at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. She intends to learn about the culture and language of the region, such as Pidgin Hawaiian.

Meah is living and working in Albany this spring as an intern for Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a Democrat whose 37th District covers parts of New York City. Meah, who meets with for-profit and nonprofit organizations and constituents of Nolan while also taking classes in Albany, said the work has been challenging but worthwhile.

“I’m happy I took the internship because I get to see the inner workings of Albany and what goes on day to day,” she said. “People can talk and write about it, but they don’t really know what goes on behind the walls of the Legislature.”

Leo Wilton, chair of the Department of Human Development, praised Meah’s “intellect, hard work and enthusiasm.”

“Meah is one of those students whom we will be learning of her monumental contributions in the future,” he said. “She clearly possesses the talent and caliber that is indicative of a high potential for success in working with communities.”

Meah said she has been able to stay connected to the University this semester through her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, and the Black Student Union, where she has served as historian. Both groups have taught her about community service and the importance of being part of a team.

Meah also said a vegan lifestyle has helped her grow as a person, teaching her discipline, responsibility and research. She hopes to someday start a global vegan business that would feature dishes with elements from different parts of the world.

“I think at the end of the tunnel, that will be the light that connects everything I’ve done,” said Meah, whose short-term goals are to teach English in India for a year after graduation, and then go to law school or graduate school.

“Binghamton University has created the opportunity for me to grow as a student,” she said. “There’s a lot right here under your nose. I want to take advantage of those opportunities and use them as stepping stones to achieving my goals.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08