Student Spotlight: Meredith Brooks
Meredith Brooks is a rising senior from Virginia Beach who will graduate in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in packaging systems and design. She is an only child and considers her parents amazing. According to Brooks, she was adopted from China when she was 11 months old by her mom, who later met and married her dad when she was about five years old. While she started out in private school, Brooks switched to public school in 9th grade in order to be able to play violin in a larger orchestra and to socialize with new people. Brooks chose to come to Virginia Tech because she already knew that she liked the people here and would fit in well. The big school feel, tons of clubs and activities, and having pretty good sports teams were some of what drew her to the Hokie community. Also, she stated that “the food around here is so good!” In fact, the local Mexican restaurant’s white dipping sauce is her all-time favorite food!
Brooks says her favorite class has been Principles of Packaging. “It was a very interesting class because it was the first packaging class I took at Virginia Tech. It showed me the diverse industries that packaging plays a role in and the many possibilities that a packaging degree can [offer]. I also had a project where I had to design my first package. It felt like jumping in the deep end since I was using ArtiosCAD and Illustrator for the first time, but at the end, I was super proud of myself.”
Packaging was a major that Brooks didn’t know existed until she was having second thoughts about her initial major, which was international studies. She found packaging on a list of majors at Virginia Tech, and after looking into it, she recalls that she realized that it made perfect sense for her as she really wanted the potential to go abroad, and also really cares about the environment. “Packaging is an international industry with companies for every business in every area imaginable. It also has huge environmental impacts. One small decision like decreasing the amount of plastic in a package by 10% or using a different type of pallet to ship a product can have huge ramifications on the environment. These decisions usually are desirable for businesses as they usually save money and are better for the environment, which is super unique.”
In the future, Brooks hopes to get involved in the logistics aspect or supply chain of packaging or possibly testing of packages. “Packaging requires a holistic view of the entire process of developing a package and distributing it to consumers, and I think this is only becoming more relevant with the rise of online shopping where packaging aesthetics, although still important, are becoming less of a factor in a consumer’s choice of product in the online market. What matters more is whether or not the product arrives in one piece.”
Brooks credits her education here at Virginia Tech with giving her a “really good understanding of the different processes that go into making a package.” She elaborated by saying that the curriculum here offers “really well-rounded coursework with courses such as Design Fundamentals as well as Packaging Distribution Systems that covers both design and distribution. It also has classes that discuss the different packaging materials and processes required to make them. With this understanding of packaging, I hope to aid in developing packages that fit into the distribution process well and are efficient but appealing in design.”
During her internship with CPULD, Brooks received her ISTA Technician certification (Image 2) and her forklift license. In fact, there are many ways Virginia Tech has helped her, but “the most helpful skill I have learned through classes is how to manage time well. Until college, I always prioritized school to the extent that I didn’t know how to enjoy myself and balance school and fun. Being in school has taught me how to work hard and play hard. Outside of school, one of my favorite hobbies is running, which I started just about a year ago. A group of my friends trained together and ran the Hokie Half Marathon in the fall, which [was] super fun! I also really enjoy cooking with friends and just relaxing with good company. I’ve also gone old school again with using snail mail to write to friends, since I think it’s something special to get mail! I’ve also gotten to have more quality time with my parents, and we usually go on walks every day. I also [still] enjoy playing the violin in my spare time.”
Brooks hopes “to find a job in a company that produces products that I really enjoy and am passionate about. I hope to aid in the testing of their packaging to make the distribution of their products efficient and make the product appealing to customers.” Her future goals have been guided and clarified through her time at Virginia Tech and the people she’s met here. She says that the “best part of being a student at Virginia Tech has been getting to know my peers and professors more. The students here are great, and we help each other when we get stuck on something instead of being super competitive. The professors also genuinely care about the students and are very helpful in connecting their students with internships and jobs. The most helpful thing I learned at VT has been to ask questions. Being proactive and asking questions shows that you are listening, care about understanding properly, and are interested in learning more.”