Pay attention, world! Someone new is about to take you by storm! Meghan Rindfleisch '12 was already a community leader when she walked onto Ithaca College's campus. In high school, she served as captain of the cross-country team, president of their Amnesty International chapter, and student government president and secretary for the senior class. It's not surprising then that as an incoming freshman, Rindfleisch was awarded a Leadership Scholarship.
Her leadership has continued at IC. Rindfleisch plans events with Ithaca's Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service, volunteers with a local senior community every week, and is a producer for Newswatch 16, ICTV's only news show. In 2010, Rindfleisch interned with NBC Universal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics assisting with production of short features on Olympic athletes.
Closest to her heart, however, is the work she does with the IC chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), which she co-founded with Christine Evans '11 after meeting her at a women's leadership retreat in nearby Seneca Falls, New York.
"To Write Love on Her Arms in a national nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness, finding hope, and presenting help to people who are struggling with suicide, depression, self-injury, and addiction," Rindfleisch explains. "It's about accepting that you struggle with these things – accepting it and not silencing it, not letting it rule your life. It is really all about hope and community," she says.
Rindfleisch and Evans brought TWLOHA to the Ithaca College community. Rindfleisch felt that TWLOHA was a necessary organization to have on campus. "In the college world, you have a lot of pressure and a lot of stress, and you need those outlets, those safe places, to be able to talk about things. Stigmas about depression and suicide still exist," she says.
With Evans's help, Rindfleisch got the word out about the new club. "We've developed such a great core of students and continue to find freshmen every year who are willing to go above and beyond," she says of the group's growing membership. The campus community has supported and encouraged her efforts to help and support others. "We have such a great network to be able to set up clubs and events," Rindfleisch says of IC and its many student organizations. "It wasn't, 'Oh, you're too young. You can't do this.'"
Rindfleisch draws upon her classroom experiences to handle the logistics of the club and its events. "Everything you do in class teaches you how to manage your time, how to manage your resources," she says. "All those critical thinking skills come int play." From holding "open mic" nights in IC Square to having an annual booth at Apple Fest to literally writing messages of hope on their arms, Rindfleisch and Evans have helped TWLOHA become a resource for students, spreading the message of hope while opening the door to discussing issues like depression and addiction.
Rindfleisch attributes much of her success with TWLOHA to the Leadership Scholarship program. Not only did the program introduce her to other leaders such as Evans, it also helped her develop a sense of confidence in herself and her abilities. "I have been able to do so much, and I feel very confident that if I set my mind to something, I can do it," she says. Rindfleisch believes that this confidence in herself and her abilities will motivate her to continue being a leader in whatever she pursues after graduation in May.
"There is always that little bit of fear and anxiety, but I don't think I could have had a better experience or a better time getting ready for the next chapter in my life," she says.
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