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Spring 2020: A Voyage of Discovery
Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist

Meg Jay

University of Virginia

Meg Jay is an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Virginia and a clinical psychologist who specializes in twentysomethings. Why? Because that’s where the action is according to her TED talk, “Why 30 Is Not the New 20.” A narrative nonfiction writer, she is the author of The Defining Decade and Supernormal. Her work has appeared in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, O Magazine, and on the BBC and NPR.

In The Defining Decade, Meg elevates what it means to be a twentysomething. She argues that, rather than a developmental downtime, the twenties are a developmental sweet spot a time when the things we do—and the things we don’t do—will have an enormous impact across years and even generations to come. The Defining Decade has been published in more than a dozen countries around the world, and her related TED talk has been viewed more than 10 million times.

In Supernormal, Meg reveals the secret world of the family hero: those who soar to unexpected heights after childhood adversity. Drawing on two decades of work with clients and students, she tells the tale of “the strong ones” in troubled families and communities, everyday superheroes who have made a life out of dodging bullets and leaping over obstacles, even as they hide in plain sight as doctors, artists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, parents, activists, teachers, students and more.

Meg earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a B.A. with High Distinction in psychology from the University of Virginia. She spent her own early twentysomething years as an Outward Bound instructor, during which time she led groups of war veterans, CEOs, abuse survivors, and adjudicated youth up mountains, down rivers, and along the coasts, all around the United States. Currently, Meg lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband and two children and, as often as possible, they are out and about on mountains, rivers and oceans too.