Ken Meyer – Co-Recipient of the Carlton P. West Phi Beta Kappa Award

Kenneth-MeyerKen Meyer

Major: Political Science

Minors: Economics, Middle East and South Asia Studies

Hometown: Randolph, NJ

After graduation, Ken Meyer will head to the United Kingdom to study for a masters in international relations and politics at the University of Cambridge. His thesis will compare and contrast political polarization in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Q: What’s different about you since your first year on campus?

A: During orientation I probably drove my first-year roommate and my new hall mates insane as I spewed politics endlessly for the first few days. It’s a miracle that many of them are still my friends. I’ve always had a love affair with American politics. My vision for my life tracked toward managing campaigns and government offices at the national level. Though I’m still fundamentally the same bleeding-heart Democrat that walked onto campus four years ago, my time at Wake Forest and in North Carolina taught me to listen, to talk across geographic divides and to see the common humanity beneath our politics.

Q: What activities did you enjoy outside of the classroom?

A: I never planned on working in newspapers. I never wrote for my high school paper. I never wrote for my town paper. Newspapers seemed like a dying medium. When I followed a friend up to the newspaper office my first week at Wake, it was supposed to be a simple trade off. If I went with her to the first Old Gold & Black newspaper meeting, she would come with me to the first mock trial meeting. Four years later, she never once wrote for the paper, but I started working with the staff in graphic design and eventually made my way up the newspaper ladder to serve as the first-ever managing editor for online content. We built out a new online program for the Old Gold & Black that included a new website, new social media accounts, and a new mobile application. For someone who never planned on working in newspapers, I’m very proud to say that our staff and this program won Best of Show for Online News at the 2012 North Carolina Statewide College Media Awards. I’m also personally proud to say that this experience allowed me to volunteer my fall semester serving the White House as an intern in its Office of Digital Strategy.

Q: Did you study abroad?

A: Since coming to Wake Forest I’ve had the privilege of spending time in 10 different countries. The Outdoor Pursuits club took me backpacking during my first spring break through the Spanish island of Mallorca.  The city of Fez in Morocco opened its doors to me to conduct a research project on urbanization comparing its old and new halves. The fall semester of 2011 I attended the University of Cambridge through a Wake Forest study abroad program. The face of the world has changed even in my short lifetime. That’s why I was so happy to take advantage of Wake Forest’s commitment to send students abroad to learn about the world beyond our shores.

Q:. How have your major and minors worked together?

A: In my politics thesis, “Spring is for Parties.”  I argue that the Arab Spring in Egypt enfranchised the country’s citizens by creating a new multiparty democracy out of the former single-party autocracy. This thesis tied together each of the strands of my undergraduate education: the party research pulled together my political science major; the focus on Egypt closed my Middle East Studies minor, and the illustration of a revolution in a developing country anchored my economics minor.

Q: Who has most influenced you during your time at Wake Forest? 

A: Dr. Tom Phillips in the Wake Forest Scholars program has embodied this University’s dedication to mentorship. He’s been a constant adviser, aide-de-camp, ally and friend. I’ll always be grateful to him for the help he’s offered me in putting together research programs during each summer I’ve been at Wake Forest, guiding me through the rigors of academia, and finally, looking for post-graduate opportunities. Thank you, Dr. Phillips, from the bottom of my heart.

Q: What is your favorite campus spot?

A: The fifth floor of the Benson University Center. It’s a place that not many Wake students ever find if they’re not involved in campus media, but at night it offers one of the most incredible views of the Winston-Salem skyline.

Q: Your best advice for an incoming first-year student?

A: Don’t be afraid to spend time in Winston-Salem. Go to the Reynolda House; volunteer or speak at a local high school, or head downtown even for just an afternoon. For the rest of my life, I know I will always count the city beyond Wake Forest’s gates as a home to which I will look forward to returning.

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