“Our Royal Pride” is an occasional series celebrating Eastern Mennonite University’s undergraduate students who contribute to campus life in extraordinary ways in addition to their academic pursuits. These students enthusiastically create their own niches, constantly re-defining what it means to be an EMU Royal student “Like No Other.” Read the inaugural profile in the series. Nominate a student with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who: Harrison Horst, junior sociology major (with minors in sustainability, international development, honors program).
Loves: the earth, music, cities, connecting across EMU’s various communities
Involvements: Earthkeepers co-president, Weather Vane co-editor, leader of the Jazz Band’s revitalization, Chamber Singers, EMU orchestra, peer tutor, works at Center for Sustainable Solutions, Y-Serve spring break trip leader …
That Earthkeepers was the first club Harrison Horst became involved with when he arrived at Eastern Mennonite University as a first-year from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is a telling sign.
“I think in my heart, I am foremost an environmental advocate, or an advocate for the future of the world,” says Horst, now a junior and the club’s co-president.
In his role, he’s had to evaluate the club’s niche on campus among Sustainable Food Initiative, the recycling department, and the new Coalition for Climate Justice.
“We [Earthkeepers] chose the community building route intentionally,” says Horst. “Getting students connected to community members and just having conversations with people who care: that’s what we’ve achieved.”
Horst, a sociology major with minors in sustainability, international development and the honors program, says that these sorts of connections are one of EMU’s best assets. “The quality of relationships here is so high.”
Those relationships have led Horst to become involved in other ways on campus, with each commitment intentionally made to help build different communities.
To help tell others’ stories, he co-edits the Weather Vane student newspaper. To create a community around the music he loves, he helped start a 15-member jazz band. To assist the professors he admires, he tutors. To bolster grassroots environmental activism, he attends local climate campaign “Renew Rocktown” meetings.
Future urban planner of just, sustainable cities
In his “spare time,” Horst began working for the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions. This passion fuels Horst’s dreams of becoming an urban planner.
“It’s really important that cities are fair, just and sustainable,” he says.
His fascination with cities began during a road trip after high school graduation. Each Southern city has a personality, he says: Asheville, “like that strange great-uncle you have who’s off-the-wall, but also really nice.” Memphis is “cool and chill, like waterfront jazz, blues and ribs.”
Horst then took the “Cities” colloquium, one of the innovative honors courses which changes topic and professor each semester.
“There are so many examples of cities around the world that are doing amazing things in terms of reducing their carbon footprint, having climate action plans, having awesome transportation systems, having awesome public care,” he says. “We need to learn from each other.”
Loves EMU’s ‘collaborative energy’
Horst loves helping his classmates learn, as well. He was drawn to tutoring after seeing his professors’ care for students “and how much they want them to succeed,” he says. Rather than traditional tutoring in the library, he is an “embedded tutor,” working with professors to engage students in group sessions that follow course curricula.
Group encouragement is also part of what makes jazz band “so uplifting,” he says. After 11 years of experience playing soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, he joined small jazz combos at EMU. Horst soon found that he missed the big-band energy experienced in high school and eventually gathered 14 other students to play together. Their first performance was at this semester’s Honors Weekend Banquet.
“It’s giving me a lot of life right now,” he says. Horst is also involved in chamber singers and wind ensemble.
Horst finds that collaborative energy at EMU in many places where people are passionate.
“The faculty here especially just really, really care about their students, what their students are doing, about social issues, about what life looks like here on campus, and I think that attitude … is transmitted to the students,” he says. “People here really care about things.”
Want to nominate a student for “Our Royal Pride”? Any member of the campus community can made a nomination. Email email@example.com with the person’s name and how they’re making a difference.