Meredith Carpenter, Haywood Community College’s 2013 Master Teacher, began her teaching career at the age of 3. She would come home from preschool, line up her baby dolls, and teach them everything she had learned that day. Teaching was a natural fit and so is Entrepreneurship. Her family is full of entrepreneurs.
“My grandfather was an entrepreneur,” Carpenter explains. “He taught me a lot about pursuing my dreams and setting goals. He always told me that an education is something no one can take from you.”
Carpenter followed this advice by first receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Appalachian State University and then two Masters Degrees from Western Carolina University, one in Business Administration and one in Entrepreneurship. Three years into her teaching career at HCC, she obtained the graduate work needed to teach Economics for the college.
Carpenter says she is drawn to entrepreneurship because of the heritage of these mountains. “There has never been a large corporate landscape in this part of the state,” she says. “Most of my family and friends’ parents owned small businesses. I grew up around entrepreneurship.”
Under Carpenter’s leadership the Entrepreneurship program has experienced double-digit growth. Last summer, Carpenter helped launch the new HCC Student Business Center in partnership with The Center for New and Expanding Business. This venture provides rising or recent graduates the opportunity to start a business in a supportive, rent free environment.
In addition to teaching, Carpenter advises the Haywood Entrepreneurship Student Association, serves on the Pearson Course Connect Advisory Board, owns her own company, and co-wrote a textbook titled Innovation and Creativity. This book is used at HCC and WCU.
When asked what she hopes for her students, Carpenter mentioned a desire for students to learn to take ownership of their future. “I want my students to know that they and they alone are responsible for their own lives. If they want to be an entrepreneur, they are the only one standing in their way.”
In her spare time, Carpenter enjoys reading, spending time with family, cooking, playing with her German Shepherd, and traveling.
“I want to know not that I made an impact on the students I taught, but that the students I taught made an impact on others, “ Carpenter says. “To get paid to teach is amazing. To win this award and have validation that I am making a difference is more than I could ever ask for.”