Empowering Others to Embrace Their Strengths – Sandra Taranhike

At Meredith, psychology and social work major Sandra Taranhike, ’19, came to recognize the qualities that make her uniquely strong. With guidance from her faculty advisor, her Meredith experiences helped her hone in on the kind of life she wants to live – and prepared her to take on her role as a research assistant for a national non-profit that works to improve programming for youth.

Sandra came to Meredith from Harare, Zimbabwe. One of the experiences that had the greatest impact was serving as the publicity chair for the Black Student Union.

“This was a space for me not only to fully embrace my blackness and Africanness in a different culture and as a minority, but also to empower others to feel like they can truly embrace who they are in that space too. This acceptance space had the greatest impact on my Meredith experience in teaching me how to be my own individual who is different and unique yet still accepted, valued, and powerful.”

Sandra knew what she was good at before coming to Meredith, but exploring her strengths through StrongPoints® helped her to better understand why she was good at those things and how she could use that same skill set to do better at others.

“I knew I wanted to be a psychologist, but that is a broad field in itself. Doing undergraduate research and completing my senior thesis honed my strengths – especially learner, ideation, and achiever. Presenting my research findings also incorporated my strength of individualization, particularly when I did a poster presentation at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference.”

Professor of Psychology and Department Head Cynthia Edwards was Sandra’s academic advisor since freshman year. She helped Sandra develop her four-year academic plan, identify what she is interested in becoming, and helped her build professional networks in her areas of interest. She was also Sandra’s mentor for her undergraduate research, and helped her through a challenging period early in her Meredith career.

“I was set on transferring out of Meredith at the end of my freshman year, but it was Dr. Edwards who suggested other ways I could mold my own experience and enjoy my time at Meredith. I am grateful for her urging me to stay here to accomplish everything I have.”

Studying away from her home country of Zimbabwe helped Sandra realize there isn’t one set culture and way of life. It helped her to reevaluate her identity and consider why she sees life the way she does. And her strength as a learner has made her open to learning and changing her views.

“I learned to believe in what I personally and authentically value; I also learned to be comfortable in declining aspects of another culture that don’t align with my worldview while also respecting and honoring its importance to others. Meredith taught me that I am a practical and realistic individual who seeks continued development towards purpose.”

Sandra noted that when she first came to Meredith, she felt a little uncertain because it was a women’s college and she had a stereotypical fear of not having the “full college experience.” Four years later, she had a new perspective.

“The ‘ideal’ experience is different for many people and each person chooses what’s ideal for them – I had the power to make my experience what I wanted it to be.”