On May 31, 2016, Meredith McMackin defended her dissertation, “Assessing the Value of Creative Arts Workshops and Hand Papermaking with Student Veterans in Transition.” Meredith’s major professor was Dr. Marcia Rosal. Her other committee members included Dr. David Gussak, Dr. Jeff Broome, and Dr. Doug Schrock. Meredith earned a Doctorate in Art Education with a specialization in Art Therapy.
In reflection of her experience at Florida State University Dr. Meredith stated:
“I began my doctoral program in the fall of 2010, taking courses half time while working full-time at FSU as an academic advisor. I never expected to go back to graduate school after finishing my MFA in Studio Art at FSU in 2003. My doctoral journey was personally motivated, inspired by my older son’s death in Iraq in 2007. In the following months I searched for something I could do, with the desire to somehow find a way to bring more peace to this planet. I began volunteering my time supporting student veterans at FSU and it felt great! One day it just clicked when I realized I could use art to help warriors heal and that would certainly bring more peace to our world. I worked towards the Masters in Art Therapy along with my doctoral courses and in December 2014 I earned by M.S. degree.
During my studies I connected with an organization called the Peace Paper Project who was working with veterans groups making handmade paper out of the pulp from repurposed military uniforms. The experience was not only transformational on a material level but also emotionally transformative for veterans who were able to recycle and create art from their discarded uniforms.
At first as a participant and later as Director, I began facilitating annual papermaking workshops with the FSU Student Veterans Center in 2012. As there were no formal studies of the therapeutic use of papermaking, I decided to focus my research on how this hands-on creative group process could facilitate the transition for veterans leaving the military and entering into the academic and civilian culture and additionally, how the participants interpreted their life experiences through the creative arts. My research also included an exhibit of the veteran’s paper art accompanied by personal statements of the imagery and the uniform used, which was displayed in Strozier Library.