“Saint Mary’s has really shown me how to be not just an effective communicator, but a compassionate listener.”
When Meredith Mackowicz ’19 first came to Saint Mary’s, she knew she wanted to teach, and more importantly, learn. Although she wanted to major in education and work with early childhood education, she was drawn to working with older adults after taking a social work class. Meredith’s interest in gerontology blossomed from an interest in being someone who would really listen, to an interest in pursuing the role of counselor and companion.
“Gerontology has taught me to encounter older adults and not just see them as a case but as a whole person who has lived a full life. They are going to have so much to teach me.”
A connection from home
Pursuing a gerontology minor has helped Meredith better understand her 89-year-old grandmother who has lived across the street from her family for 15 years. Through studying gerontology, Meredith has gained the tools necessary to trust that her grandmother, and all older adults, know what’s best for themselves.
Her liberal arts education has helped Meredith to consider the lived experiences of aging adults and meet them where they are. She sees older adults in nursing homes or elder care facilities as not just patients, but people who deserves compassion and respect.
“Gerontology is such a human field. If you don’t have compassion, and if you don’t know how to listen and learn, you’re not going to be able to connect with people. Taking gerontology courses at Saint Mary’s has really shown me how to be not just an effective communicator, but a compassionate listener.”
Her resilient journey
Saint Mary’s has given Meredith the opportunity to work with older adults throughout the South Bend/Mishawaka area. Meredith’s goal is to work as a speech pathologist, with an interest in neurogenics, the study of the role of genetics in the development and function of the nervous system. Neurogenics often helps to better understand adult acquired language disorders, strokes, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson's disease.
By working with these clients, Meredith herself has learned to be resilient. Leaning into the uncomfortable, taking one day at a time, and not being afraid of what’s going to come next; for Meredith, that could mean her next semester of classes, going to graduate school, or even her future career.
“Don’t be afraid to not know what you’re walking into. Accept that there are things you won’t understand — but you’re going to find your answers, you’re just going to have to look for them.”
Written by Gina Twardosz ’20, media relations intern and double major in English writing and communication studies with a minor in theatre.