Published on January 29, 2024 by Diamond Nunnally  
Geography Alumna Meghan McCollum
Meghan McCollum pictured with one of her murals in Birmingham. (Courtesy: Megan McCollum)

Samford University geography alumna Meghan McCollum '13 has achieved much since she graduated from Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences. She founded the Magic City Mural Festival in Woodlawn and owns Blank Space Bham, a small community art advocacy business “seeking to reclaim public space, strengthen communities, foster creativity and advocate for the (re)development of inclusive urban environments through the transformative power of public art.” Through Blank Space, McCollum has orchestrated more than 30 public art projects in Birmingham and across Alabama. She was also selected for the City of Birmingham's StrongHer campaign in 2022 for her work.  

Read more about her journey below.  Meghan McCollum

Since graduating, how have you been spending your time?

 After graduating from Samford, I became a Rotary Global Scholar and moved to England to pursue my Master of Arts in Cities and Cultures from Queen Mary, University of London. Upon graduation, I moved back to Birmingham and joined AmeriCorps, spending the next six years of my career in the nonprofit sector doing development and marketing work and transitioning into the corporate world as an operations manager for a national-reaching tech startup. After nearly two years in the corporate environment, I switched to full-time entrepreneurship after growing my own mural arts and creative placemaking company, Blank Space Bham. 

What motivated you to start Blank Space Bham?

Blank Space Bham was born from a desire to elevate art's role in sparking dialogue and action toward empowering people to build strong, thriving communities. As a postgraduate in London, I worked with a grassroots community action group in the borough of Tower Hamlets. I saw how people were drawn toward creative outlets to intervene in their spaces and reclaim their neighborhoods by sharing their authentic voices in the stories of their spaces and places. It was an energy that felt universal, and I knew this same approach of using the arts in this community-first way would resonate in Birmingham. It hasn't always been easy to pursue, and the vision has undoubtedly had to remain flexible over the years. Still, at my core, it has always been my motivation to serve the community and help others walk through this world more hopeful about what their home is/can be. In so many ways, Blank Space is my ministry. My deep love for God's people is what gets me through the growing pains of building this business. 

How does it feel to witness the success of Blank Space Bham and its positive impact on communities like Woodlawn?

I measure the success of Blank Space in the tiny moments, the community conversations that are started and the smiles that are shared. It's often difficult for me to fully articulate the deep joy that getting to do this sort of work brings me. Ultimately, it's all about my partners. Blank Space is a success because of all those I have been lucky enough to work with. To be accepted into a community or hired by a client is such a picture of trust. I'm honored to be invited into places like Woodlawn to come alongside them and help them build their vision for using mural art in their neighborhood's story. It's gratifying to know that what you pour all your time and skill into can really brighten someone else's day. 

Being selected for the StrongHer campaign must have been a significant moment. Can you share how you felt about being chosen?

The moment Chanda Temple, the StrongHer book's author, asked if she could profile me for the campaign, I was confused. “You want to write about me? About what I do? Why?!” Like many entrepreneurs, my journey has been marked by a paradoxical mix of confidence and self-doubt. In the early days of Blank Space, I feared that, at any moment, someone would see I was just a kid who had no idea what I was doing. In many ways, I still feel that. It's a vulnerable thing to do the sort of work I do, on the scale I do, for all to see. However, my guiding light through every peak and valley of this journey has always been that I genuinely feel called to this work.  

Like most Samford students, I grew up being taught that by serving others, I serve the Lord. Being recognized for the thing that brings me so much joy, just doing what I feel called to do, felt so unexpected. However, it was undoubtedly one of the biggest honors I could imagine. I've never done this work for praise, yet I am grateful for the affirmation and encouragement a recognition like this has poured into my heart. 

In what ways has your education at #SamfordHowardCollege played a crucial role in your professional achievements?

I wouldn't be where I am today without Howard College. My time at Samford, specifically in the Department of Geography and Sociology, helped shape the most crucial foundations of critical thinking skills I could ask for when approaching my workday in and day out. My professors fostered in me a sense of curiosity that isn't satisfied with just wondering but by digging deeper and taking the initiative to answer the how and why. Beyond nurturing this curiosity, they gave me the most valuable gift an educator can impart: self-confidence. I believed I could go to graduate school because of my professors at Samford. I believed I could attend a top-ranking Russell Group university as a fully funded Rotary Global Scholar because I was confident in the skills acquired through the geography program and Howard College. And I was right– I succeeded in my postgraduate studies because of the foundational tools I gained at Samford, empowering me to pursue a rich and varied career. 

Are there other aspects of your Samford education or personal experiences that continue to be valuable assets in your career?

My time studying abroad at Samford's Daniel House in London, England, was an invaluable asset to my career, providing me with unique experiences and skills that continue to shape my professional journey. Studying abroad, first for a semester and then again during a Jan term as a student assistant, laid the foundation for my eventual move to pursue my postgraduate studies abroad.  

The international exposure I gained in London as an undergrad significantly enhanced my cultural competence and global perspective. Engaging in a semester-long internship at a local community center, navigating a new and vibrant city and immersing myself in a different educational system all contributed to my ability to work effectively in cross-cultural environments. This exposure has proven particularly beneficial in my work now, where I often collaborate with diverse teams and engage with stakeholders from various backgrounds. 

Moreover, the Daniel House program emphasized independent learning and encouraged us to take ownership of our educational experience. This experience instilled a strong sense of self-motivation and initiative, which has been instrumental in starting my own business. Whether tackling new projects or taking on leadership roles, the confidence and autonomy fostered during my time abroad have been instrumental in the growth of Blank Space. 

The experience also honed my adaptability and resilience. Living in a new country presented constant challenges and opportunities for personal and academic growth. This adaptability has become a valuable asset in navigating the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of entrepreneurship. It has allowed me to approach challenges with a positive mindset, find innovative solutions and thrive in fast-paced environments. I will be forever grateful for the impact my study abroad experiences have had on me personally and professionally. 

Looking back on your time at Samford, do you have a favorite memory that stands out? How has that experience shaped your perspective or contributed to your personal and professional growth?

My time at Samford provided me with a lifetime of memories–it'd be difficult to pick just one moment that stands out for how it's impacted my professional growth, but what I can speak to is how the friendships I forged at Samford taught me what it means to live intentionally, and in community. That picture of community is something I carry with me daily. A large part of how I know how to love and serve others came through the lessons learned alongside friends I made while at Samford. Having opportunities to serve with my peers in campus ministry committees and through my service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma, showed me the richness and joy that's added to life when you use your gifts and talents to give back to others. 

What significance does Samford hold for you, and how has the university's culture and community influenced your values and approach to your career?

Samford will always feel like home. I did so much "growing up" on that campus. I knew that, though I was one of many, I mattered. My success mattered. My future mattered. Past Samford University President Dr. Westmoreland would always say, "We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.” That phrase resonated with me as a student, thinking about how I wanted to go out into the world and make my mark. I still think about it often, pausing to think about the legacy I am leaving and the work I put into making a difference in this world. Samford provided me with an environment that helped form me both educationally and spiritually: "For God. For learning. Forever." 

Read more about how our alums are using their liberal arts education to help their communities and change the world. If you're a Howard College of Arts and Sciences alum and wish to be highlighted, email our marketing and communication coordinator, Diamond Nunnally, at 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.