Q&A with Junie Speight Myers ’87

| February 14, 2013

Junie Myers ’87 leads a session during Homecoming 2012.

June “Junie” Speight Myers is a 1987 graduate of Sweet Briar, where she double-majored in English and creative writing. As a student, Myers was involved in many aspects of campus life. She was editor of the newspaper, president of the senior class, a member of Aint’s N’ Asses, Bum Chums, Earphones and Paint N’ Patches, a resident advisor, gave tours for prospective students and worked in public relations at the development office. More than 25 years later, Myers, now a therapist and counselor with her own practice, continues to give tirelessly of her time and treasure to ensure that other women thrive at Sweet Briar as much as she did.

What are your favorite Sweet Briar memories?

My fondest memories are of staying up late, laughing till we cried, and friendships with smart, creative, diverse and independent women. I also remember fondly the relationship with the faculty who worked hard to challenge us and at the same time help us to be successful.

I ultimately chose to go to a women’s college because I was amazed by the strong community and the notable accomplishments of previous graduates. Clearly, women’s colleges prepare women well for the world and encourage them to be passionate about what they choose to do. Statistically speaking, attending a women’s college is like “rigging” the accomplishment lottery.

What happened after you graduated from Sweet Briar?

I remember feeling panicked about what I would do. Several faculty members were wonderful in working with me to determine my next steps. I decided to go to graduate school [in Richmond] for an M.F.A. in creative writing. What struck me was how prepared I felt both academically and socially. I met other Sweet Briar alumnae from different decades. These women were so helpful to me during my transition. They even assisted in finding me a job!

How did you end up in your current job?

I worked in public relations for a small history museum. I then became a fundraiser for 15 years with some great nonprofits in the Richmond area, including the YMCA of Greater Richmond. I loved my work [but] I found something missing. I wanted more direct contact with those we served. I decided to go back to school and completely changed careers. I earned a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and worked at coordinators2inc, a small progressive adoption agency, for several years.

Junie Myers (middle) and some of her classmates celebrate Reunion 2012.

During my time at the agency, [my husband] John and I adopted a 10- year-old girl (now 16) from Bogotá, Colombia. I decided to start a private practice where I could do what I love and also have the flexibility to spend time with our daughter. Today I am a licensed clinical social worker in private practice.

What’s it like to be part of the Sweet Briar alumnae network?

The network of alumnae women is phenomenal. It has helped me establish deep friendships, find jobs and learn new skills helping with our local club. Just last week John and I were going to New York and I found myself talking with a couple and another woman on the train. Turns out we all graduated from Sweet Briar (1974, 1983 and 1987)! We immediately had a bond and felt connected. If I had to move tomorrow to an unknown city, I would not worry very much. I would get a list of our alumnae and know I would be welcomed with open arms!

What keeps you connected to Sweet Briar?

What keeps me involved is to ensure that Sweet Briar remains a viable option for young women. I consider it my duty and honor to speak on behalf of Sweet Briar: the virtues, the strengths, why it was instrumental in my development, and how I would encourage any woman to at least take a look at the College and keep an open mind. My experience was so life changing and fulfilling, and I want others to have a life-changing experience, too. I love going back. It is exhilarating to see all of the incredible academic achievements of the students and faculty. I also remain involved for a purely selfish reason: I love the women I see when visiting. It is like coming home. The question should be: Why wouldn’t I always stay connected to SBC?

Why is it so important to give to Sweet Briar?

I take immense pride in giving to Sweet Briar annually. My four years at SBC were truly transformative in so many ways. SBC gave me the academic rigor that prepared me to think critically and thoughtfully, and inspiration to be accomplished. SBC also provided me with a supportive space that helped sharpen my appreciation for community and my identity as a woman, along with the confidence to pursue my personal aspirations both professionally and socially.

Besides leaving a legacy for current students to follow, we also are setting the trend for the future. At many places in my life, someone gave me a helping hand. There are students who need that help now. A gift will help them to succeed and, in turn, they will hopefully help others in their own time. Don’t young women today deserve a quality education in a beautiful setting with top-notch faculty and staff? Who am I not to try and do my part to make that happen? I know what I received for four years and I want to make sure that all women have the same opportunity.

What’s your giving strategy?

I make a pledge and pay over the year. I am able to give more in installments and not feel it sharply in my budget. It’s like skipping a few meals out a month — and any of us can do that.

Myers is a member of the Alumnae Association board and the Boxwood Circle Committee. She gives annually through installments at the Column Society level. She also assists the Annual Fund and Reunion Giving with the production of training videos and is involved in the Richmond Alumnae Club.

Janika Carey

 

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Category: Alumnae and Development