The first time Jo Allen was in the Meredith College president’s residence, she was a freshman English major. She wasn’t thinking about the future. Her main thought, she says, was “oh, neat house.”
This Thursday is Allen’s installation ceremony as president of her alma mater – more than 30 years later, that freshman gets that neat house all to herself. She’s the first Meredith alumna to serve as the school’s president.
Staff writer Chelsea Kellner caught up with Allen last week to talk about her hopes for the future, the importance of failure and the advantages of being an all-female college.
Responses have been edited for length.
For instance, with failure, we know we tend to learn more from our failures than our successes. We want to encourage students not to see failure as a zero-sum outcome, but as a way to grow, a way to learn something about themselves. It helps you plan how to learn and develop as a leader.
At the same time, we tend to hyperfocus on our failures, and I think we’ve really got to be more proactive about identifying strengths and what we’re really good at, to create opportunities for ourselves to be working on projects that let us use our strengths and really excel.