Ms. 2021: Gwendolyn Daisy Ad Astra

The class of 2021 was inducted into the Alumnae Association on Wednesday, April 14. After a year of living and learning vitrually, students were able to gather together on campus to celebrate this exciting milestone. During the ceremony, Class Doll Co-chairs Haley Ivey and Grace Clougherty introduced the class to their doll. Haley and Grace said that when thinking about their class doll, they made it their goal to create one who all of their sisters could see a bit of themselves and their experience at Wonderland in.

Gwendolyn is proudly wearing her natural hair styled with two braids on top. Her
distressed jean jacket is similar to those worn by many of our sisters to sporting events,
concerts, or to class. The back is painted with the words “Meant to Fly” which comes from the
song “Starships” used in one of her Freshman year Cornhuskin’ dances. There are wings painted
around the lyrics; a nod to being the kind of woman who truly is capable of flying wherever she
dreams—a Meredith Angel. Her white cropped tee shirt has hands of all races reaching up and
using American Sign Language to spell out the phrase “Be Kind.” Black pants are staple in her
wardrobe: leggings on a casual day, when working out, or for class, and skinny jeans, preferably
with some holes and in them, when she is hanging out with friends or going on a coffee run.
Her white sneakers resemble the ones so many of us have in our closets and she is wearing her
favorite everyday accessories: a tiny gold necklace, hair-tie, gold hoops, and most importantly
her onyx. Her final accessory is her mask that she wears to protect herself and others during the
pandemic.
The various items Gwendolyn has with her represent some of the traditions, memories,
people, and accomplishments that made the class of 2021’s time at Meredith so amazing. She is
carrying her roller-skates that she wore for her junior year Cornhuskin’, when her class brought
disco and roller-skating to the amphitheater. Tucked in her book-bag, she also has the spirit
stick they won that night. This was so special because, having no idea this would be their last
true Cornhuskin’, the class of 2021 united together, spread positivity, and boogied their hearts
out to win the most important Cornhuskin’ award of all. Her book-bag has two buttons
attached to the outside: one says, “odds love evens” and the other depicts Ruth Bader
Ginsburg’s collar. The Ruth Bader Ginsburg button is a memento from RBG’s Meredith College
lecture less than a year before Ginsburg passed away. Inside she has a trophy from where her
class won STUNT as sophomores, an oddball ring from Ring Week, wireless headphones, and
her laptop. She personalized her laptop with stickers that are meaningful to her. The M and N
are for her amazing Cornhuskin’ and STUNT Co-chairs, Megan Gale and Neali Helms. The “vote”
sticker is from voting in the 2020 presidential election, a pivotal and historical marker in our
lives as we voted for our first time, and the first woman of color was elected Vice President. Her
circular pride sticker is a public display of support for her LGBTQ+ sisters. The numbers 19 and
23 are for her Big Sis and Lil Sis classes. The “BLM” shows her support of the Black Lives Matter
movement.
Gwendolyn Daisy Ad Astra is her full name. Gwendolyn is in honor of Gwendolyn
Matthews, ’71 who was the first Black student to graduate from Meredith College. We
recognize how vital our sisters of color are to our class and admire those who, like Gwendolyn,
are breaking barriers both on and off-campus. Her middle name is Daisy because of the part
this flower has played in so many of the traditions we have experienced together. At the welcome
session during Orientation, the first event we experienced together as a class, we were given daisy
seeds. We made flower crowns out of daisies with our Big Sis’s during our Big-Little Reveal. For
Class Day we made chains of daisies before the sun rose. During Ring Week, we wore a daisy
ring on the day we got to pick up our onyxes. Lastly, Ad Astra is taken from the latin phrase “ad astra per aspera” meaning “through hardships to the the stars” in honor of our determined spirit. The class of 2021
faced numerous challenges during our time at Meredith. Protesting for our rights, severe storms,
unique personal struggles, and the COVID-19 pandemic, but together we prevailed. We have faced losses,
made sacrifices, and been forced out of our comfort zones. We have struggled, but through it,
we gained knowledge, we became better people, and most importantly, realized the true depths of
our strength. Together we have prevailed and together we will reach the stars.

To the women that will come after us who will look at our doll, more than anything, we want her to represent the
qualities that make our class the strongest– resilience, diversity, kindness, and most of all inclusivity.

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