Coming full circle

Meghan Conley Peterson ’99 consistently seeks out opportunities to build connections with others—no matter what field she works in.

Throughout her career, she has thrived building strong relationships with clients, including during her four years working at a major finance firm and during her near decade as a mental health therapist at a social services agency. Her recent endeavor of establishing her own private therapy practice in Boston’s financial district bridges these worlds.

As a student at Wheaton, Peterson double majored in psychology and Hispanic studies.

“I was interested in how people think and why we do what we do,” she said of her desire to study psychology.

She pursued a degree in Hispanic studies to improve her Spanish-speaking and literary skills and take advantage of a study abroad opportunity in Cordoba, Spain, during her junior year.

Also, “I find that speaking another language increases the opportunity for connection and service to others,” she said.

Peterson developed an interest in finance during her senior year, and explored that through a January internship at Mellon provided through Susan Looney ’87. After completing one year as an AmeriCorps member for the National Civilian Community Corps, for which she worked on six projects in communities of need, she circled back to Mellon.

“I reached back out to Susan [Looney] and she connected me with Cynthia Burt Dorman ’86, who hired me within the trust and custody department,” Peterson said. After completing an initial project in the trust and custody department, she transferred to her professional home of four years: the private wealth management department.

While at Mellon, Peterson realized her favorite part of the job: connecting with others.

She attended Boston College’s School of Social Work for two years, and joined Catholic Charities’ Labouré Center in South Boston as an outpatient mental health therapist. In this role, her Spanish-speaking skills have come in handy, as some of her clients speak Spanish as their first language, she said.

“As a therapist, I most enjoy building the human connection; letting the person tell their story; offering empathy; witnessing relief that there is a resource for the challenge; and developing a working relationship where trust can be established for progress to be made. To provide support to someone who is on the path of self-improvement is an honor,” she said.

Now, Peterson is taking steps to establish her own practice. In this new endeavor, she is applying what she learned both at Mellon and at Catholic Charities.

“From Mellon, I apply my knowledge of corporate culture, as most of the private clients I see in the financial district are working in the neighborhood,” she said. “From Catholic Charities, I rely on my outpatient mental health therapy experience, including assessment and treatment, but also knowledge of family systems, child development, and the impact of addiction and recovery.”

Peterson never charted out a career path, but has been “feeling” her way through it, she said. She has relied on her liberal arts education at Wheaton to guide her.

“I feel that liberal arts requirements can’t help but make someone relatable and more empathic to another person’s perspective,” she said.

Peterson offers the following advice to those considering a second act: “Think about what fulfills you and then discern what qualities about that specifically excite you. If you apply those qualities to an occupational field, where would you land? Given those fields, what skills and experience do you already have to assist you in those areas? Seek additional classes, certifications and volunteer work to supplement your qualifications and network,” she said.