Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College

Access to Opportunity

Meghan Kirksey ’94

Medical Researcher and Annual Fund Donor

At age 15, Meghan Kirksey ’94 was a talented and successful student at a prestigious high school. She’d never heard of Simon’s Rock. But when a flyer came in the mail about the college, she and her parents decided to explore it. She visited the campus and then enrolled on a full scholarship.

Meghan’s time at Simon’s Rock changed her path and transformed her life.

This was a paradigm shift that changed my life and my approach to academics.…the key that led me down the path from my interest in science to my passion for research and discovery.

“I went to excellent schools while growing up, but Simon’s Rock is the first place that expected and encouraged me to think.” Meghan has a clear memory of sitting in a class early on when her professor turned to her and asked, “What do you think about…” This was shocking to her. “I don’t remember the rest of the question because what shook me was the expectation that I, a 16-year-old, was expected to have insights and ideas worthy of sharing with a professor and my class. He wasn’t asking for information; he was asking for my thoughts. I was no longer in class to simply learn. This was a paradigm shift that changed my life and my approach to academics. This was the key that led me down the path from my interest in science to my passion for research and discovery.”


After Simon’s Rock, Meghan continued to pursue her academic interests. She earned a PhD at Rockefeller University and an MD from Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She is now board certified in critical care and anesthesiology. She is still passionate about discovery and is actively involved in clinical and database research to elucidate physiologic and clinical determinants of postoperative outcomes.

Meghan, and her spouse, Tynisha Wynder, now fund The Alida Kirksey and Samantha Wynder Scholarship. “It’s a blessing to give back to this community,” says Meghan. “This scholarship is our way of giving another student access to the opportunities that Simon’s Rock opened up to me.”

“At Simon’s Rock, the expectation that younger scholars can be thoughtful and creative and must learn effective communication is unique and a gift,” says Meghan. “The independence, respect, and safety I felt as a young person coming into myself were invaluable. It was lonely being the only queer, black woman on campus. But it was loneliness I experienced with the support of friends and allies. What I appreciate about going through those experiences while at Simon’s Rock is that we had a voice that was respected, and most of the adults around us acknowledged, understood, and cared that our lives extended beyond the academic.”

Meghan returned to campus for the 2019 Annual Fund Scholars Retreat. She addressed the Simon’s Rock scholarship recipients: “Some of you will excel along traditional routes and some will tread paths never considered by those who came before you. I hope that Simon’s Rock will continue to empower you—the future alumni—who will continue to change the world in ways big and small. We’re proud to invest in you like others invested in us.”


Meet Our Community

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Started at 16

Ishan, Started at Age 16


Started at Age 16

Ishmael, Started at age 17


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Jennifer Fan '99

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