But, the Stockbridge program has done more than just prepare Whaley with real world experience. It’s helped her overcome her biggest obstacles. As a child, Whaley was diagnosed with ADHD, social anxiety, and a nonverbal disability. She struggled in school, often feeling isolated and alone, and not able to engage with other students. She began falling behind on her academics, and the idea of attending college one day slowly started to seem like an impossible task.
However, things started to look up for Whaley when her parents agreed to let her attend a horse back riding class. “I immediately fell in love with the fuzzy creatures,” she said, and over time used her work with horses as a release for her social anxiety. Today, it is a school like Stockbridge and the comfort of horses so close to campus that makes it possible for Whaley to live away from home and among her peers. As Whaley stated, while cradling the head of a pregnant mare named Tigger, “Wherever there is a horse, there is a home for me.”
Meghan Whaley (cq), fastens her lucky bracelet in the parking lot of Hadley Farm in Amherst, Mass. The bracelet is inscribed with her deceased horses name. “I really miss him, he was my best friend,” she said while still adjusting the strap. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.
For Whaley, college doesn’t revolve around computers with the latest technology, and big lectures. It’s getting dirt under her fingernails, and knowing her classroom comes stocked with horses and leafy greens.
Meghan Whaley’s hand represents the hard work of a farm hand, pulling hay and grabbing lead lines, and smiling all the way. Hadley Farm, in Amherst, Mass. Monday, Feb. 28, 2017