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Emma Lankford

Murray 1693 Scholaremma_lankford


Harrisonburg, VA (Harrisonburg HS)


Integrative Conservation and Biology

Why W&M

While I often struggle to make decisions, choosing William & Mary as my new home was something that just felt right. Growing up in Virginia, I always knew that I would at least apply to W&M, and during high school I always regarded it as a serious option. Although I had visited Williamsburg before, I took my first tour of the school in November 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic made such opportunities close to impossible. Despite spending limited time there, I distinctly remember telling my mom on the way home that I did not know why, but I had a feeling W&M is where I would continue my education.

Throughout the college application process, that feeling never subsided. Even when I thought that I would rather attend another institution, I could not shake my gut sense that W&M was the school I would ultimately choose. By the time decisions were being released, W&M had risen to the top slot on my college list. At this point, I had already begun the process of submitting my materials for the 1693 process and was chosen as a finalist for the scholarship. While it still seemed like a long shot after receiving the semi-finalist notification, reaching the top 25 made me realize getting the scholarship was a possibility.

I was no longer able to deny that W&M was the school for me after the virtual finalist week. Despite never meeting any current scholars in person, the welcoming community that I experienced was a stark contrast to any other school’s event I had attended. Almost every school I was choosing between had advertised their strong communities, but W&M was the only one where I was actually able to believe it by experiencing that kindness first-hand. I already knew that W&M had what I wanted––perfect size, interesting programs, access to faculty, research opportunities, etc.––and more, but your school has to feel like home. That feeling of really “clicking” with a school was something I only experienced with W&M, which meant that the decision was practically already made. When I heard back about receiving the scholarship, everything fell into place. It truly seemed meant to be, and I am so excited to start my journey as a member of the Tribe!

W&M Activities
High School Activities
  • President of Governor’s STEM Academy
  • Captain of Debate Team
  • Girl Scouts
  • Technology Student Association Secretary
  • Varsity Swim Team
  • Envirothon Team Captain
  • Summer Governor’s School Mentorship with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science
  • Research with Massanutten Regional Governor’s School
  • National Honor Society
  • Computer Science Honor Society
  • Mu Alpha Theta
  • Shenandoah Youth for Climate
  • Gardening/Horticulture Club 
Awards / Distinctions
  • Girl Scout Gold, Silver, Bronze and Triumph Awards
  • George Washington Book Award
  • 1st Place 5D Regional Debate Tournament (VHSL)
  • 1st Place 5CD Super Regional Debate Tournament (VHSL)
  • 3rd Place State Debate Tournament (VHSL)
  • National AP Scholar with Distinction
  • Departmental Academic Excellence Awards: English, Math, Science, Social Studies
  • 3rd Place TSA Dragster Design
  • 1st Place TSA Debating Technological Issues