Late last fall, the Generation Citizen Development Team welcomed their new Associate, Halley Meiklejohn to their ranks. Halley is already becoming a very valuable team member. Read below to learn a little more about her!
Tell us more about your background and how you arrived at this point in your career.
When I was 15, I began lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons at my community pool. It wasn’t an academic setting per se, but it was the first time that I was in charge of teaching students a particular subject, in this case, water safety. I enjoyed working with students of all ages and skill levels, but most importantly, I loved interacting with my community. Students would finish swim lessons and immediately come back with their parents for regular hours. It was easy to strike up conversations about topics separate from class and it was my first informal introduction to building community partnerships. It was transformative and I like to think it served as a foundation for the work I did later in life.
I went on to become a Campaign Intern for Rep. Anna V. Eskamni’s inaugural campaign, where I was aligned with the importance of grassroots work, and then became a Peer Mentor at the University of Central Florida to help ensure first-year students had a smooth transition from high school to college. This experience solidified my desire to continue to work in education. I was a grant writing intern for IDEAS for Us and I discovered how empowering it was to work behind the scenes to secure funds for large-scale programs that helped uplift communities. It felt like an all-encompassing role as well because while there was a focus on fundraising, it was equally as important to prioritize building community relationships through strong communication tactics. This approach deepened my understanding of development work as a whole. I spent time at the United Nations Association of Orlando, and before joining Generation Citizen, I was a College Success Coach at Miami-Dade College.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would be remiss if I didn’t say my great grandmother Sally. She died before I was born but, from stories and long conversations with relatives, I can tell that she was the bedrock of my mom’s side of my family. At least once a day, I hear whispers of “she would be so proud” or, “that reminds me of something Grandma Sally would say”. My mom’s oldest friends would speak of how they sought refuge from the obstacles of daily life at Sally’s house and outline how she was an important pillar of her community as well. I like to think I get some of my special interests and personality from her. It would be amazing to talk to the source herself and maybe even get her peach cobbler recipe.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Listening is a feeling.
Have you read any excellent books or articles lately?
I’m currently reading Me, My Hair, and I: Twenty-seven Women Untangle an Obsession edited by Elizabeth Benedict. It’s a collection of essays that explores how hair has influenced social trends, religion, politics, and culture (among many other things). One of my favorite quotes is, “Ask a whole bunch of women about their hair, and you could get a history of the world”. I think that’s a perfect summary and it’s been a great read so far.
Can you describe what a typical (but good!) weekend day would look like for you?
A great weekend always starts at brunch with my sister and dad at our favorite place, the Bagel Emporium. Then, over to a local record store, where I can browse for hours. I love to sift through the $1 bins and see if I can find any hidden gems. The day ends with spending time with my family and watching whatever show we’re binging at the time– last week it was Nine Perfect Strangers. I love to cook, so ideally, we are also eating a nice dinner paired with some kind of homemade dessert.