Emily Isakson ’19
Name: Emily Isakson ’19
Hometown: Worcester, Massachusetts
Academics: ancient studies major; medieval studies minor
Campus involvement: I’ve worked in Archives and Special Collections for four years and phonathon calling with the Office of Advancement for three. I have been involved in the College Catholic community for four years, and I was on the club ice hockey team my first year.
A place or experience you will miss at Mount Holyoke: One of the places I will miss the most is Archives and Special Collections, which has been integral in shaping my experience here. Working there has given me a special connection to the school’s past and my time here at Mount Holyoke wouldn’t be the same without it. It also has shown me how well Mount Holyoke stands up to the test of time, how it adapts and how it keeps what is important at its core.
Proudest accomplishment at Mount Holyoke: Participating in the recording and telling of stories through my work in the archives has been one of my proudest accomplishments. It’s an honor to be a witness to the words and lives of the many women who came before me and to preserve their legacies, and the legacies of all of the people who have come after them. In addition to this, being able to create connections with alumnae through phonathon calling has been a privilege. My experiences have allowed me to create lasting connections with alumnae.
How a close connection with a faculty member has shaped you: My connection with Wesley Yu, associate professor of English, helped me shape the path I’m on. The first day of Professor Yu’s class, I wasn’t sure that I would succeed in it. Three courses later, I have gained the confidence to coherently arrange my thoughts in papers, make connections, and think outside the box about the medieval world. Professor Yu has worked closely with me to help me achieve this. Although I am not an English major, I have been able to keep up in English major classes with his help! Additionally, because of his classes, I declared my minor as medieval studies.
Course that surprised you, or that you thought you might not like: I took Introduction to Latin American Cultures the first semester of my senior year. I took it partially because I had needed a class that fit into that time slot, but also because I know that to be able to see history from a multitude of perspectives I needed to expand my historical horizons. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It was taught by Lowell Gudmundson and the richness of Latin American history surprised me. I was excited by the opportunity to understand more than the ancient and medieval world, and additionally, a world beyond United States history.
Best takeaway from internship or research experiences: Because of my experience in the Mount Holyoke Archives and Special Collections, I was able to work at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, as a library page. The work experience that I received was essential to growing my network, and I have learned so many invaluable professional skills. In addition to work skills, I also have been able to grow my research skills, as the position allows me to pursue personal research. I will be there again this summer. I am always surprised by how much I still have to learn!
Favorite Five College experience: My favorite Five College experience has been having friends at different schools. One of my closest friends, who I met while studying abroad in Italy, attends Amherst College. She visits Mount Holyoke frequently and even brings her friends to enjoy our campus.
How Mount Holyoke has shaped your global outlook: I studied abroad in Siena, Italy, during the second semester of my junior year. Studying abroad was one of the best experiences for me, as I have always attended school close to home. It was great to know that I am able to thrive on my own. Learning a second language in Italy was a rewarding challenge. Previously I had only taken Latin, and my global outlook has expanded with my newfound skill. I was also able to visit relatives in Finland while abroad, which allowed me to understand a part of myself that had previously been undiscovered.
Future plans: I will be living and learning in New York City. I will be working toward a master’s degree in material culture, decorative arts and design history from Bard Graduate Center. I am looking forward to continuing my education in a city that provides so many opportunities for my interests and career aspirations.