Passion for travel brings a humanities grad full circle


- Tara Sharpe

Rowan Meredith misses the rain. The Slavic studies major, who graduates from UVic in November with the highest GPA in her faculty, has trudged the empty rail beds of former concentration camps in Central Europe and visited Russia in the throes of Olympic mania—but now she is in Los Angeles for graduate studies and “misses the rain desperately. It never ever rains here. Having grown up on BC’s west coast, it seems bizarre to me. I’m not dealing well without rain.”

Dealing firsthand with complex and transformative topics is something Meredith does exceptionally well. Meredith is a Slavic Studies major who took every opportunity to enrich her education by exploring the world while earning a consistently high GPA and several awards at UVic. 

Meredith was born in Toronto, but her family moved to Vancouver when she was two. She always planned to attend a BC university and was drawn to the Russian language. “What brought me to UVic in 2012 was the Slavic studies program. It is the only one on BC’s coast that offers a major, not just a minor.” And although she felt the strong compulsion to travel abroad, she fondly recalls the UVic campus community as “warmly enclosed. The greenery and Ring Road made it feel like home, especially coming directly from high school. I partly chose UVic because I wanted to be somewhere not overwhelmingly large.”

In 2013, Meredith was recognized with a UVic JCURA award to conduct research on the topic of the Sochi Olympics and LGBT rights in Russia. She also participated in the Russian study-abroad program in St. Petersburg and, the following year, in UVic’s I-witness Holocaust Field School in Central Europe. Those were followed by a summer co-op internship at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland as one of the first two UVic students in the position, as well as a semester at Phillips University in Marburg, Germany. 

Chair of UVic Germanic and Slavic Studies Dr. Helga Thorson, co-founder and a director of the Holocaust field school, recalls Meredith as “demonstrating a high degree of rigorous scholarship combined with sincere emotional engagement in helping to understand the world and work for change.” 

Meredith is now in her first year of law school at UCLA She credits her humanities degree as “extremely beneficial for any other sort of graduate study, particularly for critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills.” 

She continues to practice highland dance (she’s half Scottish) after teaching it as a student at UVic. When she wasn’t taking classes herself at UVic or tightly packing her clothes once again for another long flight, she was involved in martial arts, rugby and yoga.

Meredith is contemplating “two very divergent paths” after she graduates from UCLA: she is still interested in international human rights but also in entertainment law. The latter will at least keep her close to the west coast—with Hollywood in the same city as her current university and the Vancouver film industry beckoning from home. If she does a fourth year in law studies as a transfer, she can be certified in both California and BC. 

Rain or blazing sun, on the west coast of North America or on a completely different continent, it’s likely a safe bet Meredith will keep her passport updated and her well-worn travel bags close at hand wherever she calls home.


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Keywords: convocation, student life, graduation, alumni, international, Germanic and Slavic studies, Holocaust

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