Megan Koter saw on campus the statue of Atlas with the world on his shoulders, and she knew.
HPU, she thought, could be her place.
“Sometimes, I feel like I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says today. “But when I saw Atlas, I felt that was a cool validation that someone else would help me carry it.
“I used to feel like I wasn’t good enough, but now that weight has been lifted because of High Point University. It’s been an amazing place for me.”
Koter is the Extraordinary Leader for the month of November. She’s a member of five honor societies and the assistant resident director for York Hall and Point Place Apartments . She’s an executive board member for HPU’s Title IX Organization and president of Psi Chi Honor Society, a campus organization for top psychology students.
And in May, she was a junior marshal at commencement. That distinction honors the top students of her class.
Ask her about all that, and she’ll say she never thought that would happen.
Ask her to explain, and she’ll begin with a story from middle school.
And to Koter, a senior psychology major, that’s when she began shouldering the weight of her world.
HPU: A Transformative Place
In seventh grade, Koter couldn’t keep her seat.
She constantly moved around the class and talked to her classmates. Her teacher, though, had enough. She called Koter “unteachable” and put her out in the hall.
Koter’s classmates came out and taught her what they were learning on the other side of the door. That really didn’t help. Koter began to feel she wasn’t good enough or smart enough to succeed.
She fought that feeling as a teenager. Koter went to an all-girls Catholic high school where competition reigned over everything. She joined the rowing team, and by her junior year, she became the first-varsity coxswain — “the coach in the boat,” Koter says.
That distinction brought stress. It only got worse. Everyone she knew in school competed against one another over who could get the better grades. Koter worked hard, but she often wrestled with self-doubt and anxiety.
At HPU, Koter never felt that.
She found a supportive faculty and a supportive sorority. She found people who looked at life the same way she did and saw college as a learning adventure rather than a mind-numbing grind.
By her sophomore year, Koter became a resident assistant to first-year students in Blessing Hall. During her two-year stint, she had many conversations with students on her hall, and she discovered mirror images of her younger self.
She’d talk to them in their rooms, supporting them, consoling them, listening to them and saying, “This is exactly where you need to be.”
Koter’s attitude on life had changed because her outlook had changed.
HPU’s Campus of Support
To figure out how, start with Koter’s freshman year.
Koter came to HPU from Wexford, Pennsylvania, a small community 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh. She heard about HPU through her high school’s academic counselor, and when she came, she knew only seven people.
Koter roomed with Melanie Moravec her freshman year. Moravec came from Apex, North Carolina, a suburban town near Raleigh. The two studied together and talked for hours. Today, they’re the best of friends.
Koter also wanted to advocate for issues she cared about. One was domestic violence. Koter always felt angered by how women were objectified by society and how prevalent domestic violence against women had become — one out of every four women, Koter says.
So, Koter got involved with HPU’s Title IX Organization.
The group showed Koter how to push for change. Last spring, she attended the International End Violence Against Women Conference in Chicago where she made contacts and learned how to advocate in the future.
Alpha Chi Omega showed her how women could care for one another. Koter has served as the sorority’s vice president of intellectual development and helped her sorority sisters become, as she says, “the best academic version of themselves.”
Dr. Greggory Hundt, the chair of HPU’s psychology department, showed her how to challenge herself. Dr. Hundt is Koter’s advisor. She has taken three classes with Hundt. In every class, Dr. Hundt found a motivated student hungry to learn.
And something else.
“She sees the good in others and understands how to interact with others,” Hundt says. “She really cares about other people.”
Yes, she does.
Koter’s Bountiful Future
Koter has been a tutor and a peer navigator for first-year psychology students. She has organized events such as Mental Health Awareness Week on campus, and next semester, she wants to volunteer helping veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress.
She doesn’t want people to suffer in silence. She has. But she’s much better. She wants other people to be better, too.
“We have to help the vulnerable,” she says. “They may not have the same resources we do, and we have to help them see their worth, to get them the support they need. I want to be that support.”
Koter will graduate in May. She’ll leave HPU with a minor in English literature to complement her major in psychology. She expects she’ll take a gap year and work in human relations. Then, she’ll enroll in graduate school and focus on what she really wants to do next.
Be a school psychologist. She wants to help students just like her younger self.
So, what would this confident 22-year-old tell her seventh-grade self today? Ask Koter that, and her answer comes quick.
“I would tell her to laugh it off because that teacher doesn’t know anything,” she says. “I’d tell her, ‘She doesn’t understand you. You are a genius in a different way. It’ll get better. Don’t you worry. It’ll get better.’”
It has for Koter. With the help of HPU.