To celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Kenyon, we’re profiling three dozen of Kenyon alumnae during the 2019-20 academic year. These women, merely a small sample of the thousands of female graduates who have earned Kenyon degrees since 1969, will discuss their undergraduate experiences and how their education in Gambier prepared them for their lives and careers.
The 12th alumna in our series is Emma Welsh-Huggins ’17. A sociology major and law and society concentrator from Columbus, Ohio, Welsh-Huggins was active with local Democratic groups and led Kenyon Students for Gun Sense. She has worked in Democratic organizing since graduation, and is currently the Iowa Digital Director for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign.
How do you prioritize your life and get things done?
I write everything down. Whether it’s something I need to know or something I’m responsible for making happen, I keep everything in a notebook that’s always close at hand. But I’m always on the lookout for better ways to keep myself organized.
Where did you first discover your power?
When I realized that the first step towards enacting change is defying your own sense of hopelessness. It’s incredibly easy, especially in our current environment, to feel as though nothing you individually have the power to do will be enough — but we all have to start somewhere.
After the Pulse [nightclub] shooting in Orlando in 2016, I felt deeply frustrated at my own ability to make a difference. But that sense of despair pushed me to figure out how I could actually take meaningful action. That was the first time I found a way to move past the feeling that my own individual efforts wouldn’t be enough.
Who at Kenyon inspired you?
I feel incredibly lucky to have been taught by [sociology faculty] Jennifer Johnson, Marla Kohlman and Ric Sheffield, along with so many other brilliant faculty and staff members. I learned from them how to advocate for myself and be articulate without equivocation.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
That you are never done asking questions. Also, apologize less.
How has your worldview evolved since leaving Kenyon?
It continues to expand every day. Since leaving Kenyon, I have found that the things I care about most deeply are those issues whose real-life impact I see — not just the theoretical implications of something that we learn or read about, but the importance of bringing those theories to bear on the world around us.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Read about the previous woman in our series: Susan Chong ’89
Read about the next woman in our series: Tricia Shimamura ’11