Anytime You NEDA Hand: Meet Meg Dreher

Voices from the Quad

by Rose Brennan, A&E Editor

After serving the Features section of The Quadrangle for two years, junior Megan Dreher has taken the reins as the paper’s Editor-in-Chief for the year 2019.

Dreher first became involved with The Quadrangle as one of five recipients of the Quadrangle Scholarship in Manhattan College’s class of 2020.  Before, she had also served as the Editor-in-Chief of her high school’s paper as well.

Like all Quadrangle scholarship recipients, Dreher sent in a portfolio and was selected as a finalist to be interviewed by the college’s Publication Board during one of the college’s Accepted Student Days.

“The interview was laid back, but also very intimidating,” Dreher said.  “It just feels like the big leagues, when you’re sitting next to a bunch of educated individuals who do this for a living and really know so much about journalism and the journalistic tradition.  And so, it was intimidating, but I just kind of acted like my typical goofball self, but also showed that I knew a little bit of what I was talking about”

Similar to many of the scholarship’s recipients, Dreher was initially overwhelmed by the journalistic environment at The Quadrangle.

“I didn’t write a single article by myself until the first semester of sophomore year, because I saw all of these people that were on scholarship or just super passionate about journalism and they’re writing these phenomenal articles on really important subjects that they were either just coming up with, or it was just news happening around campus,” Dreher said.  And I was just so scared.  I was like, ‘What if I can’t keep up?’”

Before long, however, Dreher became accustomed to the paper and actually became one of the many passionate students on The Quadrangle that pursued the stories that needed to be told.

“Finally, as time went on, I became a bit more comfortable in myself as a person, and I think a lot of it had to do with just self-growth outside of the paper.  And then I realized, ‘You know what? I can take this on; I can do this,” she said.

  Eventually, Dreher branched out on her own and began writing stories with solo by-lines.  Her favorite beat, or series of articles on a similar subject, is actually her most recent one, which involves covering ongoing issues with the upcoming commencement exercises for the class of 2019.

“I feel like … that was the first time when I really felt I was doing something that was helping the Manhattan College community, in the sense that people were reading my article, perhaps, and learning more about something that meant a lot to them, and learning about something that they hadn’t realized because the college hadn’t necessarily been communicating that information in the best way possible,” Dreher said.  “So the fact that I was then acting as that mouthpiece to the students was really cool, and it was the first time when I was really like, ‘Wow!  This is journalism!’”

Even outside of The Quadrangle, Dreher has become present on other parts of the campus.  Having grown up in theater, she had a passion for performing arts, and upon arriving to the college, she faced a decision between becoming a member of the MC Dance Team or the MC Players.

“I was kind of at this point where I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Do I do theater, or do I do dance?” Dreher said.  “And of course, tryouts for the play and tryouts for the dance team were on the same day.  And, I don’t know, my heart told me, ‘Go to dance,” and so I did.  And I haven’t looked back.”

Apparently her decision turned out for the best, as Dreher is now one of two captains on the team and is now entering her third season with the Jasper Dancers.

However, her passions extend far beyond the reaches of MC.  Dreher is becoming increasingly involved with the advocacy work of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).  Her personal connection with NEDA comes through her relationship with her two younger sisters, who both struggle with eating disorders.

When her family began seeking support networks for her sisters, Dreher noticed that there were a few shortcomings in the resources available, particularly when it came to how eating disorders affected siblings of the people who had them.

“My involvement kind of just came out of being a concerned sibling.  And I realized that … there aren’t really that many resources for concerned siblings,” she said.  “I found throughout [my sisters’] treatment process that I was alone in the sense of not having adequate support.  A lot of their treatment facilities didn’t have sibling support groups.  They had parent support groups and family groups, but a lot of the time, the sibling’s opinion and the sibling’s input was just kind of negated, and often not even asked for.”

Up until two months ago, Dreher’s work with NEDA included raising awareness in any way that she could.  But that changed when she found a survey on NEDA’s website for sibling advocacy.

“I was a little bit unique, because it’s not often that you have two siblings that are both suffering from eating disorders,” she said.  “So I took the survey and I found the name of the woman who is doing this study … because there isn’t a lot of research on siblings of eating disorder patients.  And I reached out to her … she immediately got back to me and said, ‘I want to do a case study on you.  So I’m in the process of literally furthering the research of eating disorder patients which is just mind-blowing to me, because this is something I get to be contributing to.”

In addition to being a part of a case study on eating disorders, Dreher herself is conducting research on how media can exacerbate them as well.  Her senior seminar project for her communication major studies how Instagram in particular can contribute to the onset of eating disorders.

“Eating disorders are biopsychosocial in nature, which means all three of those things contribute to the onset of an eating disorder.  It’s called ‘the perfect storm,’” Dreher said.  “So I am studying how Instagram specifically, among all other platforms, contributes not only to the social aspect, but the psychological aspect that triggers an eating disorder.”

Beyond her studies as an undergraduate, Dreher ultimately aspires to attend law school, which, to her, is a discipline in which her double major of communication and philosophy can coexist.

“Coming into college, I was strictly a communication major and I ended up picking up a philosophy double major the first semester of my sophomore year,” she said.  “That’s when I think I really decided I want to take law school a little bit more seriously … I’d love to be able to, at some point, incorporate both of my degrees into my field of work.  So I’d love to do something in entertainment law, where I can use my broadcasting background that I’ve learned through my communication major, but then also advocate for something.”

But aside from beginning to study for the LSAT and looking at potential law schools, Dreher has her immediate sights set on The Quadrangle.

“I want to make this as fun and inspirational as possible to these journalists that are working for the paper,” she said.  “I want this to be a club where you can take these experiences that you’re going through as part of being a journalist for The Quad and then use them in the future.”