September 21, 2011 – Dr. Meigan Fields is known as a campus activist at Fort Valley State University. The associate professor of political science logs long hours making sure Wildcats are energetically engaged in politics, civil rights issues and social reform. Since joining the university in 2006, the advocate for students has been on a mission. She’s helping them realize dreams and fulfill their purpose and passion.
In this week’s “Just Do You” column, public relations specialist, Tauheedah ShukriyyahAsad found out what drives the Pittsburgh native to spend as much time inside the classroom, as well as outside of its four walls in student-driven extracurricular activities.
What inspired you to become a professor?
I’m really supposed to be a lawyer. When I got to graduate school, I had what I considered to be the best professors. They cared that we developed in our entirety. They made sure we were well-read and knew how to write. I looked at how they cared for me as a student and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to impact students’ lives.
Do you think you’ll reconsider pursuing a career in law?
I am. As soon as my son gets in college, I’m going to apply to law school.
What aspect of teaching do you enjoy most?
Seeing how far reaching my influence can go. I get the opportunity to see people become doctors, lawyers and teachers. I get students in my class at the beginning of the semester. I see how much they’ve grown by the end. I have a really good rapport with students, so they keep in touch and I get to see their dreams realized.
What are some of the more challenging aspects of being a professor?
When I find students who have a lackadaisical attitude towards learning. It frustrates me to see students have a cavalier approach towards education, because it is so serious. I’m not just talking about all the people who fought and struggled to help them get to where they are, but also knowing that without an education, they will find life to be more difficult than it needs to be.
What are some of the pressing issues you think educators should focus on?
I think we have to pay attention to what’s going on in the global arena. If we keep operating behind our iron gates as though nothing in the world is going to impact us, we will fall short in different areas. We have to teach students to engage in critical thinking and take that thinking to a level that makes them a part of the global system that is unfolding. Education moves at a fast pace, and our students have to be informed to keep up.
You’re not a run-of-the-mill type of professor. Tell me about some of the work you put in with students outside of the classroom.
Yeah, I’ve been told I’m a little radical on campus (laughing). It’s not that I’m a radical. I am an advocate. I think students need to be involved in things that affect others’ lives, and have experience in being a part of a cause. I’ve taken students to Jena, La. to participate in the Jena 6 march with more than 20,000 protestors across the nation. We went to Jackson, La. and participated with the Scott Sisters march because they were pardoned and not freed.
I think the students must be involved. They have a responsibility to engage in social politics. They become well rounded and better citizens when they get involved incommuniversity. It’s not just about being a Fort Valley State University student. They have to understand that as a student, they become a part of the relatively conscious group. People look to our students for direction. Where should they go? How should they vote? What should they be concerned about? And they’re looking to this educated generation and expecting them to know, and the only way the students will know is by paying attention to what’s going on in the world.
On campus, I work with the Political Science Student Association, The Women’s Learning Community and Y.E.S Program. I’m one of the faculty advisors for Pi Gamma Mu and co-advisor for the Valley Girls.
When did you realize you had a passion for politics?
I think I’ve always been a mini little activist. My uncle was a member of the Black Panther Party. A lot of people might say that explains a lot (laughing). Even as a teenager I can remember the different protests and marches that existed in Pittsburg for the disparities within the races.
Can you tell me something about yourself that people on campus may not know?
Nope. Absolutely nothing! I’m kidding. I’m a big Steelers fan. I hail from the great state of Pennsylvania. Pittsburg, the city of champions. We have six super bowl championships. No other NFL franchise can make that claim. Everybody always asks about my [dreadlocks]. I’ve been locking for 12 years come January. I didn’t do it for a cause. I just did it because I wanted to. It’s not a way of life for me, it’s more a hairstyle. But I’ve found that twisting my hair is when I get my private time, where I can just sit and think about things.
What have been some of your more memorable moments at FVSU?
I remember the support we received from the university when we couldn’t take all the students to President Barack Obama’s inauguration. The university asked that I help coordinate an event for the students to take part here on campus. We had a viewing party, then orgaized a ball for the students. Everyone dressed up; it was really nice.
With all that you have going on, do you have any time for outside hobbies?
I do. The beauty of the things that I do is that I get to involve my son in the idea of activism. And we don’t even call it activism; we call it concern, so he knows the importance of being concerned for others. Reading is one of my hobbies. I can read a book several times over. I’ve been working on a book focused on relationships, for as long as I can remember. I also write poetry. If you go to www.poetry.com, you’ll be able to pull up some of my work.
“Just Do You” is a periodic column that features profiles of FVSU staff, faculty and students. If you’d like to recommend the next JDY feature, contact Vickie Oldham at (478) 825-6319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.