After reflecting on her first year in the program, Emily is struck by how grateful she is for the influence Ingram leadership and fellow Scholars have had on her life already. Her service passions and qualities have grown, developed, and expanded tremendously through the unique level of challenge and empowerment the program encourages.
After being involved with several different types of organizations through high school and freshman year, in sophomore year Emily focused her service more and more on issues related to women’s empowerment. She spent the spring semester working in a team doing social media work for Thistle Farms, a Nashville nonprofit that employs women who have been through situations of trafficking, prostitution, abuse, and addiction. This service opportunity was pursued in conjunction with Vanderbilt Grassroots, an organization Emily is on the board of that is committed to connecting fellow Vanderbilt students with service opportunities around the city. This year Emily will continue serving as a part of the leadership team of Grassroots, and also hopes to continue taking students to Thistle Farms, though the nature of the project conducted will likely change.
Additionally, Emily has become increasingly passionate about Vanderbilt-Pakistan Connection, an organization started by Ingram alumni Lisa Koenig ‘14. Vanderbilt-Pakistan Connection—or “VanPak” as it is fondly referred to by those involved—provides a structure through which Vanderbilt students teach English over Skype to students in Pakistan. Emily specifically teaches a class of high-school aged girls in Bahawalpur. Emily believes fully in the mission and future of this organization and has committed to staying highly involved in teaching and leadership through graduation. Overall, plans for junior year are to continue the service partnerships already developed as well as to pursue others that connect Emily’s interest in women’s empowerment to her developing passion for health and fitness.
Emily’s summer project over the summer of 2014 involved partnering with a social enterprise called Rethreaded in her hometown area of Jacksonville, FL. Rethreaded exists to break the cycle of the sex trade through the provision of meaningful employment for women attempting to escape the trade. The organization also seeks to establish an atmosphere that empowers and creates value for every person that touches it. Emily was blessed by the opportunity to pursue a project that blended her service and academic interests. Specifically, she worked on the development of material management systems that enabled increased efficiency in overall company production. Increased efficiency then allows more women to be hired, providing more economic and emotional empowerment for women affected by the Jacksonville sex trade.
Through her summer project Emily was struck by a much clearer image than ever before of how her service and professional interests will combine. Emily came to Vanderbilt with a budding interest in the field of organizational development, which was quickly expanding to include interest in the mathematical and logical analytics that contribute to efficiency and success. She has been further inspired in this direction through her summer project, as she has seen firsthand how analytical and organizational understanding can affect outcomes in businesses with social missions. Emily hopes to continue furthering her knowledge and expertise in these areas through her service and coursework. In the end, she hopes she can work in management as well as serve on boards so she can contribute ideas that will help organizations with meaningful missions to successfully accomplish their objectives.