Growing up an only child in Norfolk, Va., Emily E. Wilson homeschooled herself after ninth grade when she dropped out to help care for her disabled father. When it came time for college, she enrolled in Tidewater Community College. By the time she transferred to William & Mary, she had accrued $20,000 in student loan debt, but also a burning desire to excel.
Emily is the first in her family to attend college. In a few months, she will graduate from William & Mary with a bachelor’s in international relations. Her primary focus of study is war crimes and genocide. Her goal is to earn a master’s in conflict studies or international security, and join the U.S. diplomatic corps.
“Ideally, I’d like to use what I’ve learned to work with countries recovering from civil conflict,” Emily said. “I’d like to work in a position to predict and prevent civil war and genocide from breaking out again.”
Upon admission to William & Mary, Emily was awarded a Gateway Scholarship, which has covered all of her costs. The scholarship provided gave her access to William & Mary. Annual gifts, such as those to the Fund for William & Mary, have helped provide exceptional experiences that characterize and enrich the learning experiences she has encountered here.
For the past year and a half, Emily has been a research assistant with William & Mary’s Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. She also tutors gifted and at-risk children at Matthew Whaley Elementary School in Williamsburg.
“My first time visiting the campus after being accepted, I talked with Professor Katherine Rahman in the Government Department, and she said, ‘If you want me to be your adviser, I’d be happy to help you.’ She’s not just an academic mentor, but showed me that heart and passion can have an impact. I know if I ever have any questions or need advice and direction, I can go to her and she will listen and give me very solid advice.”
“William & Mary has been everything I could have dreamed of and more,” Emily said. “I have more self-respect for being pushed so hard academically and succeeding. My experience in undergraduate research makes me feel like I will be capable and valuable in the job market. And having professors who are genuinely interested in your success drives you to be the best you can be.”
Even as Emily prepares to graduate, she plans to remain engaged at William & Mary. She and her roommate are planning a return in the fall for Homecoming. And Emily already has begun to perpetuate the generosity she has encountered here through participation in her Senior Class Gift.“I will stay connected,” she said, “because the people giving back to the College made such a difference in my life.”