Meg Saunders (2015) tells us what she has been doing since leaving St James.
Meg was very lucky to receive a full rowing scholarship from Stanford University after leaving St James. She says, ‘The US Liberal Arts system is perfect for me as I did not have a strong interest in a single subject and, as a freshman, I chose a wide variety of courses. Being part of the Women’s Rowing team is incredibly challenging and rewarding. We are expected to do 20 hours of training a week, which is the requirement of the NCAA (the National Collegiate Athletics Association who are sponsoring my education). Every day begins at 5.30 am with a training session, followed by a day’s classes. We have more training at 4 pm, and after dinner I usually have assignments to complete. Sleep is a luxury, but it is all worth it, because I have made some incredible friends through my sports team and academics. My schedule sounds really stressful, but every morning when I wake up, I still cannot believe I go to this incredibly beautiful university where it is possible to do absolutely anything, surrounded by so many people who are at the top of their field. The Stanford Rowing team have a fantastic ethos and I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the USA with my team. This year, we raced in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Princeton-Mercer, New Jersey. We had an amazing end to the season. Coming into the Nationals, our boat (Varsity First Eight) was seeded 6th, yet we finished with a silver medal.’
Meg says her favourite thing about Stanford is that so much learning takes place outside of the classroom. There are so many diverse, interesting, creative, intelligent people living on campus and she is grateful to have the opportunity to get to know them and talk about almost anything with them. Rowing is one of the most physically and mentally challenging sports that exist but Meg says it has taught her a lot about teamwork and the importance of trust and respect for fellow teammates in order to create a cohesive unit.
Meg gives the following advice, ‘To anyone who is considering what they might want to do when they leave school, remember that there is not just one option. There are more opportunities that the world has to offer than you might realise. I certainly did not picture myself going to the States until a few weeks before I applied but it has been one of the best decisions that I have made so far. If you do have a passion for a sport or activity and have ambitions to take it to a high level, don’t be afraid to dream big even if it is a dream you keep to yourself. Just keep having fun with it and see where it takes you! Being in such a competitive academic and sporting environment has many challenges. Sometimes I find myself working through the night to complete assignments or revise for finals. On top of this my athletic programme includes frequent physical challenges which require you to push your body to the limit. My time at St James helps me to remain calm amongst the constant pressures of exams, papers and testing in my sport.’