Meredith Shottes originally planned to come to Walnut Hill as a Summer Theater student right before her junior year of high school. Her plans changed, however, when a job opportunity arose for her father across the country. "We looked at the local schools in Colorado, and none had as deep an arts program as I wanted," Meredith recalls. "Since I was already planning to attend the summer program, it seemed a natural progression to move from summer into full-time." She describes the two years she spent at Walnut Hill as "transformative," as she took full advantage of the School's interdisciplinary offerings, participating in the Music Department's choral ensembles and opera scenes in addition to her Theater curriculum. "When I look back, it still ranks as two of the best years of my life and provided the foundation for everything I did in my career as an artist," she reflects. "I still call on those skills and life lessons in my current career and personal life." Today, Meredith works as the Director of Global Events for Miller Tanner Associates, leading an all-women team of more than 25 event professionals. "From day to day, my responsibilities range from oversight of event preparations, to operationalizing new guidelines from clients, to pitching and acquiring new clients and business."
Meredith remembers Walnut Hill as a school that expected and encouraged overall excellence from students, not just in the realm of their studies: "Certainly, we all strived for excellence in our artistic disciplines, but we were encouraged to be excellent academics, friends, and citizens of the Walnut Hill community and the world." She remembers the campus as a place of inclusivity, where all were welcome: "No matter who you were, you were not just accepted but celebrated for the individual gifts and challenges that you brought." These days, Meredith enjoys the international nature of her work, and delights in learning about the world through her global team. "Walnut Hill prepared me to embrace that as a wonderful gift," she reflects. Her experience as a theater student on the Hill has also bled into her work and life in unexpected ways. Meredith remembers being taught not to advertise her mistakes by drawing attention to a "fumbled line or step." Offstage, she finds that she still uses this principle every day. "No one is perfect, and with so many personal and professional balls in the air at a given time, it's safe to say that I drop a fair number," she tells us. "Learning the skill set of perseverance, making my way through and continuing on even when there is a mistake or times are tough, has been invaluable." Perseverance is especially important when there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day, a trend that Meredith experienced with her busy Walnut Hill student schedule, and still sees in her life. "In high school, I had to learn the skill sets of prioritization, discipline, and communication to get everything done," she reflects. "Today, I have to use those same skills when focusing on advancing my career and the needs of our clients, while balancing that against the needs of my family and self." She emphasizes that in the art world as well as in her work, "having a solid foundational technique" is essential and "allows the freedom to experiment, to play, to create something new." For Meredith, Walnut Hill provided her foundation, and she has been building on it ever since.