Syracuse University – A Journey Back

by Marla on April 3, 2011 · 69 comments

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Welcome to Syracuse University upstate NY.

Have you ever stepped back in time? Back to a place filled with lifes great memories. Memories of growth, fascination and limitless possibility? This week I traveled across the country back to a place I called home for 5 years of my life. Syracuse University not only educated me on the arts, sciences, writing, advertising and biology. College life goes way beyond the major you choose. It serves as lessons in being human. Creating life long bonds, community and pursuing passion.

Ladies luncheon at SU faculty center dining room.

I was invited back to SU by alumni relations and career services as part of the alumni speaker series. The mission of the program is for past students to come back to campus to share stories of work and life beyond college.

Syracuse University alumni dining room on campus.

I have never done more in a 24 hour period. Kim Brown the alumni services coordinator who I have been planning this with for months met me at the airport. We had dinner at my favorite dining spot in Armory Square called Pastabilities. I have never forgotten about their spicy hot tomato oil and was so excited to taste it again. It was wonderful.

Pastabilites restaurant in Syracuse New York

I mentioned to you guys I was gonna be on TV….First thing in the morning we dashed to Wegmans to get ingredients for the cooking demo I did on News Channel 9 Bridge Street morning show.

Marla Meridith on ABC Syracuse News channel 9

I had a great time working alongside Chris Brandolino. He made me feel very comfortable on set.

Marla Meridith and Chris Brandolino baking together on TV

Here is the segment if you would like to see it.

After taping, I spent time back on campus at my sorority Delta Gamma. These ladies are amazing! They are full of life, passion and great energy. We baked tons of my Lemon Ricotta Cookies for my evening presentation. I did not feel a day older than them. It truly felt like I had been there forever. Thanks so much for graciously welcoming me back.

Marla Meridith Alumni visit with Delta Gamma Sisters

The goal of my presentation was to share inspiration to students in all majors. The focus was to get people thinking outside the box. What one majors in at school might only subtly suggest what the future holds.

Syracuse University Alumni Speaker Series 2011

My path at Syracuse went from an undecided liberal arts major to the Newhouse School of Communications where I graduated with a degree in advertising. In my senior year I studied textile design and stayed a 5th year as an art student to pursue enough classes to have a job ready portfolio. After my kids were born food became my focus. Here I am today a recipe developer, food stylist and photographer. It is amazing where we end up when passion takes over.

Campus tour of Syracuse University in upstate NY

Stepping back into my old art studio brought tears to my eyes. Things were the same but a bit different. The biggest difference was the use of computers. Students now carry laptops instead of notebooks and pens.

Campus tour of Syracuse University

Everyone that I met with on campus was receptive, gracious and kind. The energy that I remember has not changed a bit. Campus is filled with students and faculty that love being there, despite the harsh snowy winters and continuous lake effect weather. The seniors I spoke with cringed at the thought of ever leaving.

Alumni visit to Syracuse University campus tour.

I am not sure where nearly two decades have gone. I have lived many places, gotten married and gave life to two beautiful children. Being on campus I felt like I was still 20 years old. Not a day had passed.

Pre school boy in navy blue Orangeman tee shirt

Well, maybe just a few days…….life is good.

Family Fresh Cooking kids in Syracuse University tee shirts.

To read more about this trip and my path at SU, please take a look at a wonderful article written in The Daily Orange campus newspaper.

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Omg I am crying…this was such a beautiful post, Marla!!!

“College life goes way beyond the major you choose. It serves as lessons in being human. Creating life long bonds, community and pursuing passion.” — Amen to that. If I only knew at 20 what I know now. I would have studied less for my chemistry tests and had more fun with humans, i.e. friends.

And we were destined to become friends.. I was a DG, too!!! Same sorority!!!! WOW!

Feeling like not a day had passed despite living a full life, married, kids, moving, careers, etc…that is amazing.

I have not been back to my school since the day I graduated. I wonder what it would be like.

And congrats for being on TV. You are SUCH a celeb now!!!



2 Marla April 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Averie: I cannot believe you were in DG too!! Where did you go to college? Now I think we need to book out the whole day for our next Starbuck’s meet-up. So glad you enjoyed this post :)


3 Morgan @ moments of mmm April 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm

What a beautiful post!

Being a current college student, I often feel like I am not in the right major, but after reading this I realize it’s not my major that defines what I have to do. Instead, it is my passion and what I chose to do with it that defines me. My major is just the first step in a long journey ahead.

Thanks for such a well written post. :)


4 Marla April 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Hi Morgan! I too was so confused, curious and apprehensive of what the future would bring when I left college. I loved it so much there I never wanted to leave. The good news is life keeps getting better & better when you are open to change, hard work and possibility. Keep an open mind and open heart. Your path will be laid out for you. Sit back and enjoy the ride, sounds like you have a great attitude.
Are you at SU?


5 Morgan @ moments of mmm April 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

No, I attend Arizona State University, but I found your
post inspiring nonetheless. Thanks for all the great words of
wisdom! I look forward to reading more!


6 Trish April 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Wow, you certainly did pack a lot into 24 hours. Seems like an amazing trip. Congrats on the NewsChannel 9 gig. And the ricotta cookies sound just wonderful. Thanks for sharing.


7 Yen April 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I live almost 2 hours away from Syracuse and have now bookmarked Pastabilities to my Yelp to try. Do you have any other recommendations?


8 Marla April 4, 2011 at 7:47 am

Yen: Another restaurant in the area is the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. That place is amazing! Both restaurants are casual, but the BBQ is certainly more so. Sounds like the wait can be really long on the weekends so keep that in mind if you head over there.


9 Yen April 13, 2011 at 11:28 pm

YES!! I’ve been to Dinosaur BBQ once… Halloween weekend to be exact and it was crazy packed, but we were lucky to snag a booth. Only waiting after a hour or so haha


10 Marla April 14, 2011 at 5:03 am

Yen: I can only imaging Dinosaur BBQ on Halloween. How fun! Was everyone dressed in costume? Usually the crowd there is really colorful, so I can only think they celebrate Halloween BIG!


11 Rosa April 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

It looks like you had a great time there! Unlike you, I hated school and don’t really have many good memories of that period of my life…




12 Heather McCoy April 4, 2011 at 5:54 am

Thanks for the shout out Marla, it was AWESOME meeting you!!!


13 Marla April 4, 2011 at 6:39 am

Heather: It was wonderful to meet you too. Your business model is awesome and I believe it can help so many people out there. Tools that we can use to make our lives healthier happier are essential. Between you and me I believe we can provide that. I look forward to getting to know you better. xo


14 Deliciously Organic April 4, 2011 at 6:37 am

Looks like a wonderful trip and walk down memory lane.


15 Marla April 4, 2011 at 7:44 am

Carrie: Think that might have been a sprint down memory lane 😉 xo


16 Maria April 4, 2011 at 6:43 am

Glad you had a great trip!


17 Lucy Lean April 4, 2011 at 7:06 am

This looks so fun- can’t wait to see the TV segment – you are such an inspiration x


18 Marla April 4, 2011 at 7:43 am

Lucy: Me an inspiration?? Wish I was the queen of England who goes around shooting chefs 😉


19 Amanda April 4, 2011 at 7:54 am

SSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo proud of you!!!!!


20 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking April 4, 2011 at 8:20 am

It looks like you had an amazing trip filled with memories and new experiences! Thanks for sharing all these lovely photos, and congratulations on your cooking demo! What a fun thing to take part in. :)


21 Nicole@HeatOvenTo350 April 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

What a great trip! I recently went back to my alma mater after 10 years and it’s amazing how much stays the same, but how much changes. Every time I saw a new building I wondered how they built it so fast. Then I’d remember that it had been 10 years since I was there. How fun for you to go back as a celebrity, too. :)


22 Marla April 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Nicole: It is amazing seeing all those new buildings. The campus keeps expanding which is super cool, I love seeing great things prosper. At SU it’s neat how they combine modern elements with the more historic buildings. Glad to hear you had fun on your visit back to campus too. Where did you go to school?


23 teresa April 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

Oh My Goodness Sweet Girl~
I KNOW this was a very SPECIAL occasion in your life!
I had chills reading this!
How wonderful for you to step back in time like that after succeeding in LIFE as you have!
I know you were a tremendous INSPIRATION to those students!
I bet all of those girls couldn’t BELIEVE what a little fire~ball you are!
You look adorable in all of your pics!
And I love the kiddos in their Syracuse tees!
Can’t WAIT to see the News piece!
It’s ONLY the beginning for YOU Marla!
You’re going places GIRL!
BIG THINGS are around the corner for YOU!
Happy Day to You!


24 Marla April 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

Teresa: YOU are my inspiration. The energy, drive, ambition, honesty & smiles you share around the web & beyond are some of the reasons I remain so passionate about what I do. Blogging has opened up many windows of opportunity. Some of those things cannot even be described in words. The relationships I am building each day are priceless. To be able to share health through food is amazing. Thanks for being my friend :) xo


25 Nancy@acommunaltable April 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

Sounds like a wonderful trip and experience!! Wish we had a Pastabilities here!


26 Marla April 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

Nancy: I do too! Would have been nice when I was pregnant & craving it like crazy :)


27 Marci April 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Love that you went back to your sorority house. I also loved the article in the Daily Orange to read about how you changed paths. Nice to see that you have found a niche without being an RD or chef. Just like me. Hoping my blogging career takes off like yours :) Always look forward to reading your posts each day.


28 Marla April 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Marci: It was such an emotional moment heading back to Delta Gamma. When I arrived they greeted me with hugs, as if I had known them forever. It was a real tear jerker when they found the composite picture with all the girls in my pledge class. I hardly even recognized myself.
Lately I am finding some of the most talented people I know are self taught – inspiration to push forward. Your blog is coming along great. Keep at it girl :)


29 Kulsum at JourneyKitchen April 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Aw this is a lovely post Marla! When I go to my high school I feel not a day has passed either. I’m glad you had a great time and can’t wait to see on on TV. Waiting for the link!


30 Marla April 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Kulsum: I’ll keep you posted. I believe they are airing it in Syracuse on Bridge Street tomorrow morning. I should be able to grab the link & share by the time we all wake up.


31 Sukaina April 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I love this post. You said you didn’t feel a day older than the uni girls…well woman….you don’t LOOK a day older either! And congratulations on your TV spot!


32 Marla April 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Sukaina: You are such a sweetheart! Guess it’s all those veggies 😉 I am looking forward (I think) to seeing the spot tomorrow when they post it.


33 Cookin' Canuck April 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Okay, my eyes welled up with tears as soon as I saw the pictures of your kids in the Syracuse shirts – a full circle. I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time on your trip and I can’t wait to see the cooking segment!


34 Marla April 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Dara: One of the highlights of my trip was taking a few minutes to pick out those tee shirts for my kids. I missed them so while I was away – thinking about that “full circle” had me very emotional. xo


35 Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather April 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I cannot wait to watch you on TV tomorrow! What an amazing time. I just read the newspaper article. It sounds like you were such an inspiration too!


36 Jennifer (savor) April 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Love to chat and hear alllllllll the details that you dare not share here. wink wink


37 Marla April 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Jennifer: Ohhhhhh, now you have me curious, do you know something I don’t?? xxoo


38 Kathy - Panini Happy April 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for sharing such a fun, meaningful trip, Marla! I’ve
got my college reunion in the fall, I can’t wait to bring my kids
to campus. :-)


39 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. April 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Looks like you had a blast. Congrats!! Super fun


40 Cooking with Coley April 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

This is so very cool! Not only do I love Pastabilities and
that incredible spice hot tomato oil, but I can’t help but love the
Wegmans shout out! You sure brought me back (even though I’m from
there and am lucky enough to indulge in those a handful of times a
year). Congrats on that opportunity – you’re a star!


41 Marla April 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Coley: How neat! Do you live near SU these days? I think not since you said you relive Pasta’s & Wegmans a few times a year. Did you attend Syracuse?


42 Allison [Haute Box] April 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

How wonderful that you were invited back for the alumni speaking event! These are great photos. I feel like I am there with you!


43 Angie April 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Marla! How wonderful! The photos are amazing. Time is so fleeting. Soon our children will be at university! Can’t wait to see the TV show! So proud of you! What a wonderful trip back in time! Look how far you have come. You are amazing. You are so loved!!!!!!


44 Marla April 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Angie: Hope your spring break is going wonderful! We miss you guys. I need another vacation… 😉


45 Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) April 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I loooove Pastabilities! I haven’t carb-loaded there in a long time, I guess it’s time to give them a visit. :) Glad you enjoyed your time in Syracuse, Marla. I’m sure they were thrilled to have you!


46 Marla April 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Liz: Wish you could have joined us. Did you go to SU? Do you live in NYC now? When I was a student I used to carbo load all the time, with no guilty feelings and hardly any exercise. LOL


47 Baking Serendipity April 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm

I loved reading this post! What a fabulous opportunity! It has been almost four years now since I graduated college, and I haven’t been back. It’s across the country from me now and I’m afraid of feeling old! Your post was so inspirational though :) Following your passion truly is best.


48 Sunny Hernandez April 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm

What awesome pictures you got on campus! I also love those cute little oranges you have back at home :)

Thanks for the linkage…come back to Syracuse soon!


49 Marla April 5, 2011 at 4:40 am

Sunny: When I make my way back out that way we will connect for sure! I love your spunk, drive and ambition. You are “Sunny” for sure with that beautiful smile & personality. By the way, j’adore the flower in your hair. xo


50 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen April 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm

It must be nice to go back and relive some college memories, I haven’t been back to mine since I graduated. I’m sure a lot has changed since then.


51 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm

What a wonderful walk down memory lane. It looks like you had so much fun and congratulations on your TV spot! 😀


52 Maris (In Good Taste) April 5, 2011 at 2:01 am

What a wonderful weekend you had! It is so fun to go back and reminisce and then come back to those two beautiful faces!


53 Marla April 5, 2011 at 4:39 am

Maris: Knowing I was going home to them rocks my world. I kept the trip very brief ’cause I did not want to miss taking them to school on Friday. There was a brief moment of making a longer layover to see my folks in Long Island, but my kids need me more these days 😉 Also wanted to relieve their daddy……so he let’s me go on my trips.


54 Joanne April 5, 2011 at 5:20 am

I was wondering what you were going back to Syracuse for…and it sounds like an amazing trip! There is definitely something so beautiful about college…I really miss my college days. It was about so much more than classes and learning (although that was important too) and more about maturing and making good strong relationships and just learning who I was. Loved this post Marla!


55 Marla April 5, 2011 at 5:38 am

Joanne: Going away to college went so far beyond the drafting tables, text books and studies. Moving away from home, living in dorm rooms, socializing with people from around the world – all amazing experiences unique to campus living. I hope to be able to provide similar experiences for my children when they are big enough to go. Though I cannot imagine them ever leaving my side. xo


56 Shawnda April 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

What a whirlwind trip! I’m so glad I remembered to go back
and read this after clicking through it on my phone :) So neat to
read about your experiences and the path you’ve chosen for yourself
and family. My last semester in college, I was still drifting,
looking for something “technical” because that’s what was expected
and no one was there to inspire me to look at the creative side. I
bet your talk hit home with someone out there, inspiring them to
dig a little deeper into what they’d really like to do (even if
only a hobby). Keep up the great work!


57 Marla April 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Shawnda: It is tough when creativity is pushed aside with jobs we “think” we should have. I hope I encouraged & inspired the folks who were kind enough to come listen to me. I am a creative thinker all the way, without the arts not sure what I would do.


58 Winnie April 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Aw, I love this post Marla. It looks like you had a great
time- what a fabulous experience! ps I went to Cornell and would
love to hit up Wegmans again 😉


59 Shaina April 6, 2011 at 6:17 am

Sounds like a fantastic trip, Marla!


60 Nutmeg Nanny April 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Looks like you had a great time stepping back into time :) Good for you that you were able to have this experience….it seems like one you won’t soon forget!


61 Megan April 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

I’m so glad you had a blast going back to the past! I made
your cookies and loved them. I never got to the frosting but I ate
them in the morning with my coffee. It was a nice to break the fast
because I usually don’t eat till about 9 or 10 and I have my coffee
starting at 6. Great recipe and great post!


62 Kelly Lester April 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

Gorgeous, gorgeous! What a FABULOUS TV appearance Marla. What a natural – you’re a STAR. But you already know that. :) Brava!!!


63 Marla April 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

Kelly, I need your voice in my ear as my cheerleader. You have so much skill & experience with TV and dramatic arts. I could use some media counseling 😉


64 lynn @ the actor's diet April 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

how lovely!!! such a whirlwind, but i’m sure you soaked it all up. i love going back to where i used to spend so much time and reminiscing.


65 Marla April 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Lynn: The experience of going back to SU went so far beyond what I thought it would. The emotions that it stirred up were amazing!


66 Jenny Flake April 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm

LOVE this! Can not believe I am just now seeing it. The video is perfect, you are a true natural on tv girl! I can absolutely see you rockin your own show!


67 Gina @ Skinnytaste April 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Marla, our stories are so similar! I went to Pratt and majored in graphic design. Later I became a photo-retoucher. And now I’m blogging, foodstyling and taking photos just like you!

I guess we are about the same age, I was schooled with t-squares and triangles and rubber cement! Who knew this would be my future. Great post, especially with my daughter going to college next year.


68 Marla April 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Gina: I thought you had little kids! Shocked that your daughter is going to college next year. That is huge. Oh do I remember t-squares and typesetting with those sticky letters, can’t remember what those things were called. The learning curve for the computer took me forever. I was much more comfortable for years doing everything by hand. These days my computer is my life! Can you imagine what will happen in the next 20 years…..


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