Student reflects on role deciding winner of $1 million prize for humanitarian work around the globe


Mikaela Meyer, RC ’17, doesn’t do anything lightly. That’s exactly why the senior English and communications major is the perfect fit to serve on the jury for a prestigious humanitarian honor — the 2017 Opus Prize, which will be awarded at Regis University this October. The $ 1 million award recognizes a faith-based nonprofit working to conquer some of the world’s most pressing problems. Additionally, $100,000 awards are given to two runners-up.

Meyer is currently deciding between law schools and working her way toward her dream: a career in criminal defense. She’s been accepted at The University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and Washington University in St. Louis, and is waiting on a response from Harvard.

She was chosen to be the undergraduate student representative on the 2017 Opus Prize Jury to select the three finalists. She joins religious and nonprofit leaders, community trailblazers and University innovators to help make the selection.

We sat down with Mikaela to ask her about her experience on the Opus Prize jury.

What was your first impression walking into the jury meeting?

It was daunting. Here were all these impressive leaders doing incredible things in the community and I was put on their level. I was nervous being the youngest person in the room but everyone was so welcoming and warm that any anxiety faded away pretty quickly.

Did you have any favorite nominees before the deliberation?

Oh yes. I went in with my three favorites and all the arguments to convince everyone why they were the best. But it didn’t work out exactly that way. Everyone had a unique perspective and brought such honest passion to the discussion that my opinion was definitely changed. But it was for the better. We all wanted the three best nominees to be chosen and it took a lot of talking to get there.

What do you think the Opus Prize means for Regis?

This award is a great reminder of the power of our Jesuit values at work in the real world. The Opus Prize honors the men and women that we are all working hard to become. With all the events planned around the nominees’ arrival in October, I think Regis students who want to truly be men and women for others will have the chance to find out just how they can from people who are living it every day.

Are you a champion for change? Learn more about the 2017 Opus Prize and the life-changing opportunities this offers for communities and nonprofits around the world.