Emily Bowling '06
Biology | Harrisburg, Pa.
As the summer of 2005 drew to a close, Emily Bowling '06 was on track for a successful senior year at Susquehanna before enrolling in grad school for medicine or biology research.
But then Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Bowling joined the world in watching tragic reports of devastation and crisis, and she was moved to action. She joined a team of students and staff on Susquehanna’s first Hurricane Relief Trip (HRT) that year. "It seemed my time and energy was the best thing I could give."
In New Orleans, Bowling saw firsthand how the poorest residents either had no means of returning home or no hope of receiving aid.
"I was well aware of class divides and the socioeconomic status disparities within the country, but those issues came to life more than ever during my time in New Orleans," Bowling says.
The resiliency of New Orleans' residents inspired Bowling. They "reinforced the notion that success and prosperity should never be measured by money or material items, but by how we use our lives to impact and help others."
After the trip, Bowling "began to sincerely reconsider the career path I had always seen myself going down." Instead of medical school, Bowling stayed at Susquehanna, serving Bowling served a two-year AmeriCorps placement as the coordinator of volunteer programs. She coordinated a range of service programs, including subsequent service trips to the Gulf Coast.
"I enjoyed working at SU for some of the same reasons I chose to attend there as an undergraduate. The small campus size allows for meaningful relationship building between staff and students. I was able to coordinate transformative service experiences for students and help them identify passion areas and issues they wanted to create change around," Bowling says.
Following her AmeriCorps placement, Bowling earned her master’s degree in educational leadership and policy and sustainability education from Portland State University, where she also worked in Residence Life and started the university’s first learning communities centered on civic leadership and sustainability.
Bowling has carved a niche in higher education, having worked as the EcoHouse program coordinator at the University of Connecticut before assuming her current role as the civic engagement and service coordinator at Oregon State University.
“I enjoy helping students to realize their leadership potential in working toward a more just, humane and sustainable world. Striving to motivate students around issues of social and environmental justice is both hugely rewarding for me and one of my primary professional passions,” she says.
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