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Spring 2010 - Western Reserve Academy

Spring 2010 - Western Reserve Academy

Waring Prize speaker

Waring Prize speaker encourages students to follow their dreams Andrew “Sandy” Meldrum ’70, the 2009 Waring Prize recipient, returned to campus April 16 to deliver the annual Waring Prize address to the school community. Meldrum encouraged students to set goals and to keep working to achieve them, even if they have to take small steps along the way. Meldrum, senior editor and regional editor for Africa for GlobalPost, is best known for his work as a reporter in Zimbabwe for The Economist and The Guardian. In Zimbabwe he reported on a multiracial, waring prize lecturer multi-party democracy that was widely considered the hope of post-colonial Africa. Over time, though, President Robert Mugabe and his government committed human rights atrocities and became corrupt. As Mugabe clung to power, he became increasingly hostile to any criticism and placed harsh restrictions on the press. By the late 1990s, Meldrum was one of the few voices calling for an honest accounting of the misdeeds of the Mugabe government. In 2002, Meldrum was arrested and put in jail for two days to await trial for what the authorities deemed “false reporting.” Despite Mugabe’s control of the courts, Meldrum was acquitted of all charges. In May 2003, Meldrum was abducted and physically forced onto an Air Zimbabwe jet and illegally deported. He recounted those events in his 2006 memoir, Where We Have Hope. Meldrum recalled the steps – some of them small – that he took in his own career to reach his goal of becoming a foreign correspondent. “When I was a junior in college (at Middlebury) I decided I wanted to be a foreign correspondent,” he said. “It sounded exciting and far away from Hudson. I was told I was too late (to become a journalist) but I decided to keep trying and, after graduating, I got a job – right back here in Hudson.” While working at the local paper, Meldrum realized he “loved journalism and I had made the right decision.” He enrolled at the Columbia University School of Journalism, earning a master’s degree, and 20 Reserve Alumni Record Spring 2010 Andrew “Sandy” Meldrum ’70 spoke to students as the Waring Prize recipient about his career path and work as a journalist in Zimbabwe. prepared to enter the workforce again. “My journey to become a foreign correspondent brought me right back to Ohio at the Lorain Journal,” he said with a laugh. “But it was a great experience and I learned a lot.” Meldrum eventually made it out of Ohio, working for a time in California, until, in 1980, he sold his car, bought a ticket to newly independent Zimbabwe, and embarked on an amazing journey that would end very differently than he expected. “I saw that Zimbabwe had become independent and realized this is my chance,” he said. “So I moved there to work as a freelance reporter.” At first, the changes the country was undergoing as it emerged from colonial rule provided opportunities for positive stories, but eventually Mugabe’s oppressive

style of government changed Meldrum’s reporting. “My conscience told me it was my duty to report the bad stories,” Meldrum said. “And when I was deported it gave me a larger platform to talk about On the web To view Sandy Meldrum’s Waring Prize talk, please visit www.youtube.com/wra1826 human rights violations. I went to Zimbabwe seeking adventure, excitement and some big stories. I got much Andrew “Sandy” Meldrum met with members of Peter Haas’ SWS class, including Alyssa Murray ’12. more than that. I found the gratification of standing up for something bigger than myself, to be able to stand up for press freedom, human rights and democracy.” In addition to his talk, Meldrum met with Reserve Record staff members and visited students in The Shaping of World Society classes. “Meeting with Mr. Meldrum was truly an awesome experience. He showed a genuine interest in the Reserve Record, as well as a real desire to help us grow as journalists and editors,” said Emily Clark ’11, co-editor of the paper. “He was incredibly down to earth and easy to talk to, and was open to any sort of questions, from his own experience in Africa, to his advice when writing a lead or interviewing a person of power. The opportunity was priceless.” Karan Bains ’10, co-editor of the paper, echoed Clark’s feelings. “Mr. Meldrum gave us a sense of perspective, especially as a WRA graduate. He has gone on from the school to work for change in the world and showed us that we should be ready to stand up for our beliefs,” Bains said. “At lunch, he shared some journalistic tips that focused on attitude and preparation, and expressed a sincere interest in the Reserve Record. It was great to meet with someone so accomplished yet down to earth, and I’m sure all of us will remember his words of wisdom.” Spending time in the classroom was an invaluable experience for students, said history teacher Peter Haas. “Mr. Meldrum’s visit to these SWS sections provided the students with an unparalleled opportunity to learn firsthand about both the challenges and opportunities that Zimbabwe faces. His casual yet straightforward approach encouraged an energetic conversation among students, and his one-of-a-kind lifetime experiences gave them further inspiration toward designing pathways in their own lives,” Haas said. “It is always a pleasure to have such an articulate, mature and, considering the obstacles he has faced, refreshingly optimistic man of the world speaking with the students in a more informal setting. Mr. Meldrum is exactly the type of alum that Western Reserve Academy should be proud to help shape.” The Brick Row Beacon, Western Reserve Academy’s new monthly online newsletter, is a primary form of communication for parents and alumni, delivering important school news, stories and photos directly to your e-mail inbox. The Brick Row Beacon is delivered each month to readers who have registered their e-mail address with the school. If we do not have your e-mail, please send it to communications@wra.net so we may add you to our delivery list. Reserve Alumni Record Spring 2010 21

The Alumni Record of Western Reserve Academy • Fall 2010
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