A Trip to India and Two Graduations Lie Ahead for Megan Maxwell
By: Nick Santangelo
She’s two times a senior, and over the next year she’ll become two times a graduate. Still, her educational journey may not reach its conclusion until she’s received two more degrees. Coincidentally, her initials are two M’s. Purposefully or not, “supersenior” Megan Maxwell seems to have a thing for the number two, and the College of Liberal Arts couldn’t be happier that she chose Temple University over two other local schools she considered (Drexel University and Villanova University).
The global studies and economics double major will graduate from the National Guard in November and then with her bachelor’s degree from Temple in spring 2019. And she’s already looking ahead, checking out master’s and doctoral programs in international relations. But when she looks back, she recalls that there was “something about Temple” she liked better than Drexel or Villanova.
“When I went on the campus tour, it just felt like the school for me,” says Maxwell. “Walking around the campus, I saw a lot of diversity, a lot of the history catering to the working class and helping people make their lives better. It just seemed like a mission I was inspired by.
“Temple’s a huge school, but I’ve gotten really lucky that I’ve gotten personal mentorship from professors and made really good friends. It’s been a great experience. “
From Base to Campus
Originally from St. Louis, Maxwell spent seven years on active duty in the United States Army before serving in the National Guard. While in the Army, her family left St. Louis, so she moved to Philly to be closer to her sister and grandmother. When she got here, she decided it was time to fulfill her “lifelong dream” of returning to college. She came to Temple as a transfer student meaning, yes, this is her second time around at college.
She’d taken classes while on active duty and built some credits, but her service didn’t afford her enough time to complete a degree. Maxwell had to decide: become a military careerwoman, or go back to school. After deciding to go back and transfer to Temple, the process was a cinch.
“It was very easy,” she says. “I came to Temple in 2015, and the year before Temple had won the award for top 100 most military-friendly schools. I just showed up on one of the Transfer Tuesdays. I filled out an application and was accepted pretty quickly.”
Reckoning being an adult sitting in a classroom with a bunch of teenagers and early 20-somethings was—at first—somewhat less easy. The adjustment was difficult because she was going from “grownup” life to college life, but it was doubly so because she was going from a military life to a civilian one. She eventually caught up, though, and things have been “great” ever since. In some ways, she’s even had a leg up on traditional-age students.
“It’s easier for older students because we know what we want to learn, and we are more invested,” explains Maxwell. “It’s not checking a box quite as much.”
From Philadelphia to India
Maxwell has done so well in her return to school that she was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). Run by the U.S. Department of State, the CLS program grows the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages critical to national security and economic prosperity. Maxwell discovered CLS, which she calls an “awesome opportunity,” through Temple University Director of Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising Barbara Gorka. With her scholarship, Maxwell will spend 10 weeks studying a second language (Hindi) in Jaipur, India this summer.
“In my experience, when it comes to studying areas, there is no substitute for being there in Jaipur,” she says. “It’s going to be so much easier to learn Hindi and just be such an enriching experience.”
In order to be placed with a family in Jaipur by the CLS program, scholarship winners have to write a personal essay and then a prospective family selects them. It’s one of just five personal essays Maxwell has had to write about topics like how she reacts to stress and group work dynamics. The essays have challenged her, but she found a way to overcome.
“I don’t like bragging, and I don’t like capitalizing on a lot of my experiences,” she says, “so it’s really hard to try to figure out what I should say, what I should leave out and how to frame it.”
But not knowing how to proceed was OK. In fact, Maxwell discovered that Temple students don’t even have to walk on campus knowing what scholarship(s) they want, let alone how to go about winning them in order to, well, win them. They just have to know where to find two things: resources and support.
“The only thing that could be stressed is that if anyone thinks they are remotely interested in the scholarship program, the [Office of Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising] is amazing. You don’t have to actually know that’s what you want, you can go there and explore all the options first. Through all of Temple’s resources and support, they really gave me the confidence to apply and get accepted. I now advocate for people to go to Dr. Gorka’s office!”