Meagan Barron ‘15 and Emily Carroll ‘16 have a lot in common; both are cadets in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership who are majoring in political science and minoring in leadership studies. Both enjoy volunteering and playing active roles within their community, and both have been honored with the Margaret Wren de St. Aubin Leadership Scholarship — an award recognizing students who display outstanding leadership. Margaret Wren de St. Aubin ‘81 established the scholarship, which was first awarded during the 2011–12 academic year to Barron. Designed to encourage leadership and involvement on campus, the scholarship will recognize an incoming freshman during spring semester each year.
Barron was notified that she received the scholarship last spring, and like her fellow student and this year’s recipient, Carroll, she reacted with excitement and gratitude. “It was a hard transition from high school to college, and being 900 miles from home made it more difficult to adjust. I threw myself into everything at Mary Baldwin, and when I received this scholarship, I felt rewarded for my hard work,” she said.
A Wake Forest, North Carolina, native, Carroll has also struggled with homesickness and the scholarship reassured her that she was in the right place. “I am thankful for the honor — it helped me feel that this is the place for me,” Carroll said, commending de St. Aubin and other donors for their generosity. “To have alumnae who are willing to give back keeps the Mary Baldwin legacy alive and encourages future donors’ support. Thank you for the legacy you have left here for me and for future Squirrel girls,” she said.
Travelling from Plymouth, Indiana, to enter VWIL at Mary Baldwin, Barron also joined the basketball, volleyball, and tennis teams and became involved with St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, promoting the youth group among her fellow students. Her athleticism won her recognition, and she received the USA South Sportsmanship Award, Rookie of the Year, and Total Overall Freshman Athlete. Toward the end of her freshman year, Barron was elected sophomore class president and spent the beginning of the 2012–13 academic year planning Apple Day, a longstanding community service tradition at Mary Baldwin. She is also in the President’s Society and serves as a peer advisor on campus. After graduation, Barron plans on commissioning into the Navy and would like to attend flight school in Pensacola to become a helicopter pilot.
VWIL also attracted Carroll to Mary Baldwin. In addition to her leadership studies minor, she is studying human resources management. Carroll is a member of College Republicans and participates in Colleges Against Cancer, a branch of American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Back home she was active in United Service Organizations and worked to support deployed soldiers and their families. During her senior year in high school, Carroll coordinated a homecoming celebration for a returning soldier and prepared a special meal for him.
The scholarship’s founding donor couldn’t be happier with the recipients. “What amazing young women they are,” said de St. Aubin. “They are what Mary Baldwin is all about, and both seem very deserving. They are a credit to Mary Baldwin and the spirit in which the scholarship was created.” De St. Aubin received a thank you video last month in which Barron and Carroll shared their appreciation.
As a member of the college’s Board of Trustees and an alumna, de St. Aubin is passionate about Mary Baldwin and the innovation constantly taking place there. She owns travel agency North Carolina Travel, provides leadership for investment business Wren Industries, and manages the charitable Wren Foundation, which supports community initiatives in her hometown, Siler City, North Carolina. De St. Aubin felt like she first tapped into her leadership potential as a student at Mary Baldwin. She was elected to serve on the Judicial Board and that involvement, along with the nurturing environment at Mary Baldwin, enhanced her college experience and contributed to her personal growth. “My greatest hope is that this scholarship encourages young women to develop and excel as leaders,” she said. “I loved watching the video [of the recipients] — they seem full of energy and I’m just excited to help.”