Marshall grad inspired by dignitary’s visit

Getting a front row seat to watch a powerful leader in action was inspirational, said 2012 Marshall High School graduate Meghan Harmening.

Harmening, a sophomore finance and accounting major at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, participated in a question-and-answer program with a student panel Oct. 12 that showcased Condoleezza Rice, who served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States from January 2005 to 2009. Rice was on the BVU campus as the laureate for the 21st William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series.

The question-and-answer session was attended by nearly 800 students, faculty and staff.

Harmening, the daughter of Todd and Lisa Harmening of Marshall, was an alternate on the student panel, so she didn’t get to be on the panel during the question-and-answer session, but she garnered a front row seat.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” Harmening said of the experience.

The panelists worked with BVU faculty mentors to develop questions for Rice. Harmening helped to craft the questions that would be asked of Rice, now a Stanford University provost. She said the panelists didn’t want to ask questions that would make Rice uncomfortable such as anything about 9/11 or “stump her” or elicit a canned response.

“We asked her what advice she could give students in business and we asked her a couple questions on national security,” Harmening said.

Harmening was thrilled to see that a few questions that she specifically thought of were used.

“I thought of the question on how she overcame the glass ceiling for women,” Harmening said.

While the Rice event was a highlight of her college experience, Harmening’s accomplishments at college are many. She has been named to the dean’s list, selected as a Global Fellow and is a member of the Dean’s Fellowship Program. Harmening was also named the recipient of the 2013 Paul and Vivian McCorkle Freshman Scholarship and Leadership Award. Harmening is active in campus ministries as well as a leader or member of other organizations including the student newspaper and the Marketing Club. She serves as an academic assistant, a resident adviser, a student senator and a university seminar peer mentor.

All that and still only a sophomore.

“I was the youngest one on the panel,” she said.

Harmening said the experience of viewing a former secretary of state and national security adviser was “a fantastic experience. She inspired me to not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

After she graduates, Harmening plans to enter the business arena.

“Just seeing how she carries herself was inspirational,” she said.