Throughout Emma’s high school years, she was active in community service. The two most significant experiences were centered around the needs of the individual. During the summers after her freshman and sophomore years, Emma traveled to Ethiopia with the Mocha Club to work at orphanages, the Women’s Fistula Hospital, and with women learning vocational and personal skills to leave the sex trade. All of these experiences sparked a passion for cross-cultural service. During her last 2 years of high school, Emma served as a youth intern at Daystar Children’s Counseling Center, leading weekly middle school counseling groups and assisting with administration and office needs. She participated in their annual bike-a-thon fund-raisers, receiving recognition for the amount she personally raised. During the summers, she served as a counselor/youth intern at Daystar’s residential counseling camps for elementary through high school children. With Daystar's help, Emma developed her skills in encouraging emotionally needy children and giving them tools to help themselves.
During Emma’s freshman year at Vanderbilt, she was involved in a variety of service areas, primarily focusing on the needs of the refugee and immigrant population. Each week, she worked at Siloam Family Health Clinic where she served as a clinic assistant, office assistant, and occasional translator. In addition to her service at Siloam, Emma served in an after-school program at Nation’s Ministry Center tutoring middle-school immigrant children, many of whom had come from war-torn countries and had experienced numerous traumas in their young lives. Here, she learned the rewards of getting to know individual children well and walking with them through bad and good days. Following her academic year, Emma traveled to Madrid, Spain to live immersed in the Spanish language and culture and to work in a summer program for immigrant children. Many of these children had been emotionally neglected resulting in behavioral and learning issues concurrent with socioeconomic problems. Emma had to write her own teaching program, manage a chaotic classroom, and communicate in their native Spanish language. During this time, Emma faced many challenges with cross-cultural communication but valued the opportunity to love these children well and appreciate their individual strengths. Working with these children taught Emma learned the difficulties not seeing the fruits of one's labor and the importance of serving from selfless motives.
As Emma enters her sophomore year at Vanderbilt, she hopes to continue to explore her interest in cross-cultural service and renew her commitment to Siloam Family Health Center and Nations Academy. She also hopes to learn from experienced professionals in these organizations about giving emotionally weary people hope, encouragement, and life skills training.