Growing up in Cleveland, Meg VanderLaan's favorite story was "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." A childhood fascination with stories has grown into a career as VanderLaan '89 has traveled a yellow brick road of her own, becoming senior vice president and chief communications officer of MWH Global, Inc., an engineering firm headquartered in Denver.
Just as it did in her favorite story, the road has led her home, to Gannon University where the member of the Board of Trustees addressed the graduating class at the December Commencement ceremony.
It will be the first Commencement she has attended since her own, and though VanderLaan is a seasoned communications professional who has visited more than three dozen countries and been a part of massive construction projects, she is humbled by the prospect of speaking.
"We were discussing Commencement and Dr. Taylor told me that every year, our December speaker is an alumnus," she said. "When he said that, I went through my Rolodex for possible speakers, but I didn't think for a million years that it would be me."
It's a great story, one of many in VanderLaan's arsenal. "Stories are what link us together as humans," VanderLaan told the Denver Business Journal when she was profiled as one of the publication's "Outstanding Women in Business" earlier this year.
Hear from Meg how Gannon provided a solid foundation for her career.
One of those stories will find its way to the History Channel in February, a documentary about MWH Global's massive project to expand the century-old Panama Canal.
It's a project that brought her full-circle to her days in the radio and television studios under the watchful eye of A.J. Miceli, now director of the new School of Communication and the Arts.
"My favorite line in the 'Wizard of Oz' was when Dorothy said goodbye to the Scarecrow and said, 'I think I'll miss you most of all.'" VanderLaan said. "That shows the power of connection."
It's a power that was renewed at Commencement as Meg VanderLaan's story continues.