Meredith Olson

Meredith Olson

ΦBK, The University of Iowa Occupation: Senior, The University of Iowa; student teacher at Iowa City High School Field(s) of Study: Vocal Performance, K-12 Music Education


What do you see yourself doing after you graduate from college this year? 

An ambition I have would be to travel the world and study music from different countries and compose songs based on world melodies. First and foremost though, I am a teacher, and a teacher has an obligation to make a difference and an impact on the  students. I find it so rewarding to see students’ minds work and make connections between concepts. Our world is full of music, and it transcends all language and cultural boundaries. If money and time were no object, I would bring students from all over the world to see works of music everywhere, from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to the Vienna Opera House.

What course in college had the greatest impact on you and why? 

My freshman year I took an improvisation-based theater class. Students studying any subject could sign up for it, so I was able to work with a great variety of people. We journaled extensively, shared personal stories and experiences, and worked as a group exploring ways of thinking that we otherwise would not have discovered. Without this course, I do not believe that I would have found such a great group of friends and adjusted to college life so seamlessly.

What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you? 

I received great advice from  a close friend recently, as I prepare to compete in the Miss America Organization for the title of Miss Iowa 2016 in June. Your best competition is yourself. I definitely apply that advice to my academic work. It is so easy to get caught up in who scored the best on an exam, or who was selected as the soloist for the spring concert, but what really matters is if you are improving and challenging yourself. People appreciate honesty, and as a teacher, to create that bond with my students, I need to do my best and have my own technique rather than copying and striving to be someone else.

What does your Phi Beta Kappa membership mean to you?  

There is a sense of pride and prestige that comes with being a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Being a member, no matter where you go, there will always be an established bond with other members. They will be not only friends, but mentors, colleagues and so much more. Also, as a music educator, Phi Beta Kappa’s arts and sciences initiatives are very special to me .