Barry McNamara  |  Published May 11, 2022

Freshman Woman of the Year

Despite major setback, Megan Dailey thrived in her first year on Monmouth’s campus.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Like all of her Monmouth College classmates, Megan Dailey of Pendleton, Indiana, is familiar with an academic semester going off the rails.

MEGAN DAILEY: During the Honors Convocation on Scholars Day, she received the Freshman Woman of t... MEGAN DAILEY: During the Honors Convocation on Scholars Day, she received the Freshman Woman of the Year honor. Pictured presenting the award is Cullen Marshall '22.But unlike many of her fellow members of the Class of 2025, who saw a relative return to normal as the 2021-22 school year progressed, Dailey had another yet serious obstacle to overcome.

On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, just hours before she was to take the stage for the opening night of Monmouth’s production of A Christmas Carol, Dailey suffered a training injury in track that left her with six broken bones in her foot.

“I still can’t sprint full out,” said Dailey, who took up the javelin to stay active with the Fighting Scots.

But that spirit to keep battling helped her receive the College’s Freshman Woman of the Year honor, awarded annually at the Honors Convocation on Scholars Day by the Tau Pi chapter of the Mortar Board honor society.

“Megan has had an astonishingly great freshman year in scholarship, leadership and service despite a variety of setbacks that would have led many people to discouragement,” wrote her nominator for the award, classics professor Bob Simmons.

A classics, art and educational studies triple major, Dailey plans to become a Latin teacher.

‘Smaller could be better’

The track and field program first drew Dailey’s attention to Monmouth. She received correspondence from assistant track coach Dan Evers, and she was surprised when he followed up a month later.

“I had been looking at mostly big schools,” said Dailey. “I didn’t know that smaller could be better. On my visit, I really liked the small feel. The professors, the people on the team and everyone else I met was so nice.”

“I had been looking at mostly big schools. I didn’t know that smaller could be better. On my visit, I really liked the small feel. The professors, the people on the team and everyone else I met was so nice.” Megan Dailey

She entered Monmouth as a music education major, but “I completely changed that up” as she grew to appreciate Simmons and the College’s classics department.

“I’m always excited to go to my classics classes,” said Dailey. “Professor Simmons is amazing at everything he does.”

She said her Latin and classics classes and her work last fall with educational studies professor Craig Vivian led to her new career goal.

“(In) an elementary curriculum, you have to spend a lot of time getting students up to math and reading standards. Being a middle school and high school Latin teacher gives you a lot more freedom.” Megan Dailey

“I got a lot of experience working with young children, but I learned there’s not as much freedom with an elementary curriculum,” said Dailey. “You have to spend a lot of time getting students up to math and reading standards. Being a middle school and high school Latin teacher gives you a lot more freedom.”

While taking an overload of credits in her first two semesters on campus, including many with a high degree of academic difficulty, Dailey achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She recently earned Maxima Cum Laude distinction on the National Latin Exam, putting her in the top 20 percent of a highly competitive group of test takers from every state and 21 other countries.

“Her high level of performance in all of her subjects did not happen by chance,” said Simmons. “The few classes she’s missed have been for out-of-state medical appointments, and she Zoomed in whenever her appointments did not directly overlap with class meeting times.”

Actively involved

Dailey got her freshman year off to a great start by participating in the College’s three-week summer research program for new students, SOFIA, that leads up to the first week of classes. She took the lead on a project for the College farm, painting the chicken coop to help bring more interest to the chickens and make the farm more vibrant for educational visits from schools.

BRIGHT SPOT: Even before she'd taken her first class at Monmouth, Megan Dailey (second from l... BRIGHT SPOT: Even before she'd taken her first class at Monmouth, Megan Dailey (second from left) was an involved student on campus, participating in a SOFIA project to paint the chicken coop at the College's educational farm.In her work with the College’s Art Alliance, Dailey has helped paint windows in town for the holiday season and assisted with the Lincoln Trail Conference art show, teaching a small project to visiting high school students. She also plays trombone in the Wind Ensemble, trombone and piano in the Jazz Ensemble, and sang in concert choir during the fall semester.

Additionally, Dailey played a significant role in preparing for and carrying out the clothing station for last fall’s Classics Day V, which enlightened and entertained 300 students, staff, faculty and community members. A member of the Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honor society, she pledged her own time and recruiting prowess to Monmouth’s successful bid to host next year’s annual meeting of Eta Sigma Phi, the national classics undergrad honors society.

“It’ll be like Classics Day on steroids,” said Dailey of the major campus event.

“Megan came to college ready to learn, and she has taken thorough advantage of all of the opportunities for learning made available to her,” said Simmons. “She is so excited about so many topics that she’s figured out how to shoehorn three majors into four years.”

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