Alumnus challenges students to fulfill their dreams

Alumnus Rich Meredith understands life throws curveballs. He also understands a life of fulfillment is different for each person. He has a career that’s taken him to some of the poorest places in the world, and he’s learned that gratitude comes in many forms.

On Friday, Dec. 13, Meredith spoke to our upper school students about his life experiences and challenged students to live a life bigger than themselves. It was part of a new speaker series brought to life by Cayte Brown ’08, alumni and community relations manager, and Ashley King, director of experiential education and community engagement and coordinator for technology integration, that focuses on introducing our students to real-life experiences outside Collegiate’s walls. 

“I hope you’ll think about who you are now and who you want to be when you leave Collegiate,” Meredith said to students. “And you’ll have to figure out who you want to be. No one can figure out who you will be except for you.”

After graduating from Collegiate in 2003, Meredith went to Virginia Military Institute where he earned his degree in business and economics in international studies. Before conquering the world, he joined Teach for America, a national nonprofit organization that places teachers in underserved communities in the United States. There he taught seventh and eighth grade math at a juvenile detention facility. It was teaching in Mississippi that he noticed a theme in his life, of which he spoke to students. 

“Big picture—I seek meaning in my life. I seek to live a meaningful life,” he said. “I find meaning in things that fulfill me.” 

He explained, “happiness is a short-term boost to my mood, but I seek fulfillment. Fulfillment comes from doing things in service to others. It’s about living through gratitude. Gratitude is two part: it’s internal you feel it and it’s service to others.”

Following his teaching commitment, Rich moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked as a consultant and later a foreign service officer for the United States Department of State. That role took him to more than 30 countries, with the majority of his time spent in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. 

He went on to earn his master’s degree in real estate development from Georgetown and returned to Norfolk where he now works for his family’s construction business, leading efforts on new acquisitions and development—his latest project being the Railyard at Lambert’s Point, a 100,000 square foot, mixed, adaptive reuse retail development on Hampton Boulevard. He also serves on Collegiate’s Board of Trustees.

“The only person who is going to decide to do something for you is you,” he said. “I’m always trying to figure out what gives me meaning. As you think about who you want to be and where you want to go, I ask that you boldly and humbly return and add to that you have been given.”