To understand ourselves requires vulnerability, thoughtfulness, and courage. Often as we try to understand who we are we also must consider who we were, and who we are becoming.
In 2019, Emily Whitehouse came to Virginia Tech as Student Life Coordinator for the Residential College at West AJ. She had no residence life experience and very little supervisory experience. Flash forward to today: Emily is Assistant Director for the Office for Living-Learning Programs.
Emily said, “In my three years working at Virginia Tech, I have been surrounded by opportunities to continue learning about myself as well as learn more about others.”
And she has taken advantage of all the opportunities presented to her. She took an Interfaith course, became a certified Career Champion, served as catalyst on the Student Affairs Committee for Equity and Inclusion, was chair of COVID-19 in-hall logistics for move-in, supported students in various advising roles, taught incoming student staff about leadership development, and experienced a wide variety of projects, ideas, and partnerships. Starting next semester she will also serve as a Strengths Consultant.
Emily said, “I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by thoughtful, compassionate, and honest faculty, staff, and students here. I have these people to thank for inspiring and challenging me to grow and learn.”
Emily’s nominator said, “She has gained confidence in herself as an educator and a professional. Emily has found her voice. And her voice is strong, humble, compassionate, and convicted. Emily believes the work she does is transformative for students, and that being in community and supporting students is what Student Affairs staff members are called to do. One who has such clarity of purpose so early in their career is one who understands themselves and how their unique gifts are able to fill a need.”
It is not surprising that in living her life this way, she is providing a wonderful example to students. Her nominator said, “She shows students that asking yourself hard questions -- and sitting in the uncomfortableness of not always knowing the answer -- is part of being human. She demonstrates to students the commitment to be true to yourself, be true to your values, and relentlessly pursue these through action.”
Emily said that she connects and reconnects with who she is through walks in nature, time with loved ones, reading, and getting back in touch with her geeky side -- like currently binging Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power.
Emily said, “To me, self-understanding and integrity means being committed to learning about yourself and being brave enough to live authentically and empathetically. Give yourself grace. Allow yourself permission to fail, learn, and grow. I tell my students that a mistake itself is not a failure. Whether you are able to learn and grow from that mistake is what really matters.”
Emily, you are an inspiration to us all. I am pleased to present the Aspire! Award for PURSUE SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND INTEGRITY to Emily Whitehouse.