Today, we have a lucky treat – a post from Whitney Pennington, a senior who has made the most of her Emory experience with involvement in research, ResLife, and music! Read below for more!
Not long after I arrived on Emory’s campus in August of 2009, I realized that the list of things I wanted to get involved in at Emory was much longer than the list of things I could reasonably fit into my schedule. After a semester or two of dabbling, three activities have stood out as the solid foundation of time at Emory outside of the classroom: Emory Wind Ensemble, Residence Life, and research.
I began playing an instrument late in elementary school, continued playing through high school, and knew that I wanted to continue playing in college. While I’ve never had an inclination to major in music, playing an instrument has always been a hobby. Being a part of the Emory Wind Ensemble has been a wonderful experience—one that has allowed me to continue growing as a musician while pursuing other academic interests. In the past semesters, the ensemble has joined forces with the Emory University Chorus, the Emory Dance Company, and featured many of Atlanta’s talented professional musicians to perform some of the most classic and most recent pieces for winds.
While music is somewhat outside the realm of my Environmental Studies course load, I have also found ways to enhance my learning outside of the classroom, primarily through research. For the past 18 months, I’ve had the opportunity to work in the Vector Ecology lab or Dr. Uriel Kitron and Dr. Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec. One of the group’s main research goals is to investigate what aspects of our environment (built and natural) affect the transmission of vector-borne diseases, specifically West Nile Virus. Through the lab I discovered my own passion for field work (research and natural experiments outside of a laboratory) and an interest in bird health. With the guidance and support of faculty and grad students, I am now on my way to completing an honors thesis investigating linkages between bird feeders and bird diseases.
Above all else, my time at Emory has been impacted by my involvement with Residence Life (ResLife). Having never been to sleep away camp as a kid, moving into a dorm was a completely new experience coming to Emory. Lucky for me, I loved it! It did not take long for me to realize that I wanted to be just like my sophomore (SA) and resident (RA) advisors and build a dorm community to help new students get plugged in and transition into Emory life. As both an SA and an RA, I was able to just that. Now as a senior, I serve as the Senior RA (SRA), serving not only a floor of 30 first year students but a staff of 25. In the SRA position I help my staff plan effective programs and find ways to make their jobs as fulfilling as possible. While I’ve been shaped by many parts of the Emory community throughout the last 3 years, I find myself always coming back to ResLife as the community in which I’ve developed most as a person and a leader.