Meet the 2015 MSW Spirit of Social Work Award Winner

"I always wanted to be of service to others, and I wanted to do something meaningful in my life," Carolyn Cole.

Carolyn Cole Meyer 2015

Born the daughter of a Baptist minister in Louisiana, Carolyn Cole Meyer developed early a love for the marginalized and the voiceless.

Carolyn’s dad was the editor of the state Baptist paper for more than 20 years, and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, he wrote a number of editorials for equal rights. As a result, their family home was vandalized, and they received hate mail and threatening phone calls.

"My dad instilled in me a heart for social justice," Carolyn said. “I watched him bravely write those articles and watched him stand up for what he believed even if it met with resistance. Growing up in a home like this taught me to speak up for those who could not."

Carolyn knew at an early age she wanted to help others. When she was only nine years old, she marched in and told her mother that she wanted to work with pregnant teenagers, and that is exactly what she does today.

"I always wanted to be of service to others, and I wanted to do something meaningful in my life, and hopefully make a difference in others' lives," Carolyn remarked.

She graduated from Baylor with her BA in sociology and social work in 1977, and is currently in the master’s program, graduating in May. She works full-time at Midway Independent School District as the coordinator of the Pregnancy, Education and Parenting (PEP) program, and has been there since 2002.

"The PEP program can best be described as an umbrella for students by providing them a social worker who acts as a liaison with their chidcare, coordinates their home instruction [so they don’t have to miss school after delivery], offers transportation to school and childcare facilities, and provides parents and pregnancy information," Cole added. "The central goals are healthy baby, healthy mom and graduation from high school. I love my work!"

Carloyn's social work journey began more than 30 years ago, and graduating in May with her MSW will be the fulfillment of a 30-year dream. She will turn 60 years old four days after graduation and is excited to enter this next "season" of her life ... full of "spirit" that has been instilled in her from her cohort, her professors and from the strong foundation of advanced social work skills she feels she’s gained since beginning her journey at Baylor.

"Receiving the Spirit of Social Work Award reaffirms my soul that I was indeed led by the Spirit to this place, at this time in my life," Carolyn said. "It also inspires me to keep my own spirit alive and well as I sit with the greatest Spirit of all and listen."

Article and photo by Nikki Wilmoth