This week we are highlighting some of the members of the Class of 2020 as part of our #HumansOfLongwood series. While formal commencement exercises won’t take place until October 9 and 10 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our graduating seniors officially earn their degrees May 16. Wherever life after Longwood takes them—a new job, graduate studies or an internship—these students reflect the goals and achievements made possible in a close-knit community that promotes student involvement, values inclusion and nurtures citizen leadership in whatever form it takes.

Karen Emerson ’20
Hometown: Burke
Major: Business administration with a concentration in accounting; double minor in mathematics and economicsNext Steps: Summer internship in Singapore, then pursuing dual master’s degrees—one in international business and the other in business analytics—at the Hult International Business School in Dubai

The community atmosphere on Longwood’s campus is unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Sometimes I’d be walking through campus looking for a quiet place to study, and joy would wash over me because I felt content in a place I belonged. In those moments, I had no doubts that I would reach my goals because I had developed the skills and knowledge I needed to accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Longwood has smaller classes than many schools, and I was able to have a better learning experience as a result. My professors not only wanted their students to do well—they also encouraged us to be strong individuals and leaders. I had class discussions that led me to think critically about what I was learning. One of the faculty members who was key to my success was Dr. Robert Cochran. He never made classes easy and pushed us to develop the discipline needed to succeed beyond college.

While at Longwood I interned at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. I also studied abroad in Thailand, where my focus was learning about southeast Asia economics. My study abroad experience led me to look into international careers so that I could continue to travel. It also led me to choose to attend graduate school in a foreign country.

My college experience would not have been the same without my involvement in Catholic Campus Ministry, which I led as president my senior year, and serving as a tutor for the athletics department and Center for Academic Success. I was always elated when a student told me they understood something I had explained or that they did better on the next test.

I will always be grateful for the friends and mentors I met and many others I encountered on campus. I never felt limited to the smaller communities in my major or student organizations. I always felt welcomed to join in all of the university’s events and activities. Longwood is a tight-knit community, and it shows in everything the university does.

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