Grant's own mother, Helen, a nurse, experienced such joy sevenfold. Meg, child No. 6, grew up in Phoenix, where her father, Austin, is a cardiovascular surgeon. In 1983 Grant earned a degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a Master's from USC two years later. She then became a TIME stringer in L.A., winning her first byline on a cover story about child abuse. In 1984 Grant married psychologist Greg Lecklitner and the following year moved with him to Seattle, where she free-lanced for PEOPLE. In 1987, when Meg was tapped to head the magazine-Miami bureau, she and Greg, 10, relocated again, to Coral Gables, Fla. "He gave up his private practice for me," says Grant. "Next time it will be more his choice."
At PEOPLE Grant has covered such wrenching news events as the ordeal of Kimberly Bergalis, who contracted AIDS in 1987 from her Jensen Beach, Fla., dentist, and last year's murders at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her favorite assignment was a 1990 story on Florida's migrant workers. "I was eight months pregnant and planting strawberries in the field." she recalls.
"Meg was able to capture the dignity and strength of these families," says Jacob Young, Grant's senior editor on the piece. "She's always on top of the news or some complex crime story. But she also found a jewelry designer on a tiny island off Georgia who makes earrings out of raccoon bones. Now, that's versatility."