Though it had been nearly sixty years since taking a required speech class in Bryant Hall, Carole Lynn Meadows sits in the foyer reminiscing about meeting her husband for the first time in the building.
A firm believer of doing your best at small tasks to get the big tasks done, Meadows has always followed her gut instinct, leading her to become president of every single organization in which she was involved. Her go-getter attitude and apparent care for others is contagious and a rare quality that makes her a woman worth celebrating.
“Maybe I just like being in charge,” Meadows laughs. “And the harder the goal the greater the achievement. Getting married, having a family, trying to be a good wife, mother, Christian, and teacher, these have been the goals of my life. The goal of creating the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center is high on my list of things of which I am proud.”
Headed to Ole Miss
Achieved is an understatement to Meadows long list of credentials. Born in Pascagoula, MS, but raised in Lucedale, a typical small town that never locked the doors, and everyone looked after each other, Meadows was encouraged to be involved.
Graduating from Ole Miss with a master’s degree in business education, Meadows said the subject matter she learned was instrumental in helping her teach and serve as president of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries and the Ole Miss Alumni Association.
“Carole Lynn Meadows is an amazing alumna of the Ole Miss business school and a testament to the broad leadership skills and knowledge that she honed while a student here,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration. “She has had incredible breadth in her career and life, and her love and gratitude has inspired her to give back in so many ways.”
Meadows has succeeded in multiple realms of the business world, not only teaching in it for nearly twenty-five years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but by co-creating the first children’s museum in Mississippi.
Tragedy Leads to Learning
The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center has been ranked in the U.S. top 50 and has positively impacted nearly two million visitors since its opening 20 years ago. Named in memory of her daughter, who died in a car accident in 1984 while a student at Ole Miss, the museum holds a place deep in her heart.
“For us, the choice was to make something positive out of that tragedy. What better way to remember our daughter than with a place where children could experience learning and laughter, happiness and inspiration, love and joyfulness. The welcoming arms of LMDC call to the child in all of us to reach for the stars in becoming all we can be.
“Lynn is surely happy to know that LMDC is a part of thousands of children’s lives. Her goal of becoming a teacher has been fulfilled not in the expected way but fulfilled just the same.”
“I know that education makes a tangible difference in the outcome of a life. It opens windows of opportunity not afforded otherwise; inspires a person to reach his/her potential as a human being and provides a way of life that benefits a family, a community, a business, and humanity.”
“Carole Lynn Meadows is the epitome of what it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel — she’s a mentor, a teacher, a leader, a trendsetter and more,” said former UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. “Through her teaching, as well as her visionary leadership for the Discovery Center, she has enabled countless learning opportunities for Mississippians and so many throughout the region.”
As far as determining success, Meadows says it is not only what you achieve personally but also what you help others achieve for themselves. Carole Lynn spent five years as a stockbroker with J. C. Bradford, Co.
Meadows formed several women’s investment clubs, where she taught women how to invest in the stock market and feel confident in directing their financial futures. From this experience, she learned that teaching was her true calling and was even more prepared to share real-life experiences and practical advice in the classroom.
Becoming the first woman president of the National Alumni Association of the University of Mississippi in 1994 was never a goal for Meadows but an evolution of her willingness to serve the community.
“It was also a way for me to return the good favor Ole Miss afforded me by way of an education, a husband, and an Ole Miss family,” Meadows said.
Meadows involvement in community service is impressive. From serving as the first woman executive committee member for the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce, to vaccinating over 5,000 children against rubella, it is no wonder she was so deserving of being inducted in the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame.
Inspiration and Motivation
“Assume the best until you know differently,” Meadows said in response to her advice to any aspiring women starting a career in corporate America. But what drives Meadows to be so involved?
“Gratitude,” Meadows said. “I believe this is the key to why we serve a greater cause than ourselves. My motivation is born of a heart filled to overflowing with gratefulness for the people and the opportunities I have found along my life’s journey. A desire to return all the goodness I have received with the best I have to offer comes from a grateful heart.”
When she isn’t teaching Sunday school, attending Ole Miss events, she is chairing the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission. Meadows beams with excitement at the plans for a new aquarium.
Some may not know, but she actually has three degrees. “When a woman’s husband went through law school, the norm was that the wife worked to help pay for law school,” Meadows said. “The Law School ‘rewarded’ us for our efforts with a degree, “Putting Hubby Through,” a PHT degree–no kidding. “Frankly, I was very proud of it.”
As she tells her stories of receiving her scuba diving certification, hanging out at the “Mansion,” one of four major restaurants in Oxford during her college days, she re-applies her pink, electric lipstick; pink for the Phi Mu chapter. Of course, she was the chapter’s president.
After talking for several hours, Meadows realizes she has an Ole Miss baseball game to attend with Joe. Walking down the grand steps of Bryant Hall, Meadows looks up at the beautiful ironwork entrance and reminisces “Ooh, but for that speech class, who knows what might have been my story. I would not have written it any other way. I will always be indebted to that class and Ole Miss.”
By Haley Myatt