On Feb. 19, Meredith College President Jo Allen presented the 2019 Woman of Achievement Award to chef and television host Vivian Howard. The Woman of Achievement Award is presented by Meredith each year to a woman who is an “inspirational role model.” Howard joins former recipients N.C. Supreme Court Justice Sarah Parker, N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, journalist Judy Woodruff and more. To celebrate Howard’s receipt, Dr. Allen interviewed her about her life and how she found her way back to small-town North Carolina from big-city New York living.
During the conversation, Vivian Howard shared many a humorous anecdote about life as a successful chef and businesswoman. She talked about handling bad reviews: don’t always take it to heart, she said, but “follow the trends” if they’re there. She discussed her ambition: “always a whale to chase,” she mused. She reflected on her many opportunities: no matter how small an endeavor, she made sure to “maintain a kernel of a dream.”
One of the most meaningful stories was that of when Howard finally realized that being a strong, independent, modern woman does not mean disregarding the advice of older women like her mother. It wasn’t until later in life that Howard began paying attention to (and respecting) her mother’s cooking and, more importantly, her as a person. According to Howard, it was an important moment for her to acknowledge that the experiences of more mature women are not things to be disregarded due to them being “outdated.” Finding inspirational female role models—no matter the age—creates inspirational women like Vivian Howard.
By Olivia Slack, Features Editor