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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Editorial | Bridgit Mendler: The Renaissance woman we should all look to for inspiration

Bridgit+Mendler+onstage+at+%E2%80%9CSounds+of+Summer%E2%80%9D+on+Aug.+16%2C+2014.
Image via Chris Ptacek, Wikimedia Commons
Bridgit Mendler onstage at “Sounds of Summer” on Aug. 16, 2014.

The internet was taken by storm after the announcement of Bridgit Mendler’s latest endeavor — starting a space data company. We all reacted just as ecstatically when she announced she was attending Harvard Law School and getting her doctorate at MIT as we did when “Lemonade Mouth” premiered and “Ready or Not” aired on the radio when we were much younger.

Bridgit Mendler is an icon beloved by Gen Z and should serve as an inspiration to all. 

She began her iconic career when she was just a teenager on Disney Channel with recurring roles on “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Jonas” from 2009 to 2012. In 2010, she starred as Teddy Duncan in “Good Luck Charlie,” where she played an elder sister leaving behind videos for her younger sister. The show left an impact on many of our childhoods, with many remembering iconic moments to this day, including when Bob Duncan dropped both Charlie and Toby down the stairs or when Teddy’s boyfriend famously cheated on her and she sang a song with the other girl in an act of revenge. 

Though, very little is as iconic as her role of Olivia Hunt in “Lemonade Mouth,” which is arguably one of Disney Channel’s most successful original movies. Songs like “Determinate” continue to ring in our ears and “She’s So Gone” is a breakup anthem to many. Outside the fictitious band, Mendler had her own musical success with hits like “Ready or Not” and “Hurricane” from her debut album “Hello My Name Is…”

In 2016, Mender graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in anthropology and she got her master’s degree from MIT in 2020. She is currently slated to graduate with both her J.C.D from Harvard and her Ph.D. from MIT this year. On Tuesday, Feb. 20, she announced that she is the founder and CEO of Northwood, a space satellite data company. She and the other co-founders aim “to make satellite technology more accessible by mass-producing data-retrieving ground stations on Earth.” 

Not only was she able to accomplish all of these accolades in a little over a decade, but she is doing many of them as a mother. Shortly after her announcement with Northwood, she also disclosed she adopted her four-year-old son in December of 2022 after fostering him since 2021.

As college students, it feels like every day we have to have our whole lives figured out. Like we have to know what the next 20 years are going to look like. We feel like we have to plan what degrees we must get and experiences we must achieve to get the career we want post graduation. We have to know when we’ll be married so we can have kids by a certain point. We have to finish law school by the time we’re 28 and be CEO of a startup by 31. We feel the need to be dating the person we intend to marry by 26 so that we can have at least a few years before the first planned child at 30. We are all constantly having to think a dozen steps ahead despite most of us being barely legal adults.

Bridgit Mendler is the perfect example as to why you don’t need to do that. You don’t need to know everything at 18 nor any year after that.

You can be in college for what you want to do now, and 10 years later go back and change your mind. Mendler didn’t start law school until she was about 29 years old. 

You can go from doctor to ice cream shop owner or national park ranger to registered nurse. Mendler went from Disney icon to space lawyer CEO with two doctorates from some of the best universities in the world.

You are allowed to change your mind and switch your career path. You are allowed to change your mind about where you live and the way you want your life to look.

There is no way that when Bridgit Mendler was a 15-year-old starring in the “The Clique” she had any sort of inclination that she would go on to create a space startup or attend Harvard Law School. She likely had little clarity on whether she wanted to become a mother or pursue a degree in anthropology at the time either. 

It may feel as if there is a constant pressure to outperform your peers and have the next 15 years of your life dutifully planned out, but you never know what’s going to happen. Perhaps the wind will blow you elsewhere.

Your life is allowed to change and you’re allowed to evolve. You do not need to know anything now or even in the next 10 years. Give yourself grace and acknowledge that you don’t need to have all the answers. You are never too old to try something new. Bridgit Mendler is the perfect epitome of a Renaissance woman who has done it all, and that can be you, too.

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