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Academic Excellence at EMU

Academic excellence featuring 1:1 with professors, internships and original research prepare EMU students to launch successful careers and further academic pursuits. Cross-cultural study, exploration of values and involvement in athletics and student life experiences shape critical thinkers and team players for success after EMU.

EMU students excel in graduate school

Derek Sauder '14

Derek Sauder, math and psychology '14

"I want to give a shout-out to Deirdre L. Smeltzer, who was one of my math professors and was also a mentor for me through the honors program. She always encouraged me to pursue graduate education, and I enjoyed all of our one-on-one meetings in Common Grounds."

Read more about Derek's experience.

Michael Spory

Michael Spory, art and photography '11  

"I vividly remember a conversation in the art building during my senior year, when two professors I deeply admired (who still teach there) started talking to me as if I was their peer. I was shocked, but then realized the magnitude of the gift they had given me – that I might be someone whose ideas were worth something, unrefined as they may have been.

EMU helped instill in me how to be a bridge between disciplines, how to search out the unexplored gray areas, how to synthesize and integrate in the gaps to uncover the unexpected and unforeseen."

Michael Spory graduated from Iowa State University’s three-year professional Master of Architecture program. He is now an architectural designer in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the design and engineering firm Stantec.

Read more about Michael's experience.

Donovan Tann

Donovan Tann, English '08

"Over the years, the positive experiences I had as an EMU student have been an excellent resource for my own teaching practice. When I began teaching as a graduate student, I often found myself returning to the kinds of discussion-focused and student-centered teaching techniques that I saw modeled during my time as an EMU undergraduate. This repository of ideas helped me to be more comfortable and successful in my transition from college student to graduate instructor and finally to college professor."

Donavan Tann earned his English PhD at Temple University in Philadelphia. He now teaches courses in literature, writing and film at Hesston (Kansas) College.

Read more about Donovan's experience.

Nicole Groff

Nicole Groff, biology '14

"EMU helped me to explore my different interests—I took classes and became involved in peacebuilding, psychology and religion. I also took “Sociology of Health,” which is what initially drew me to be interested in public health."

Nicole is a student at Emory University in Atlanta, where she studies in the Master of Public Health degree program and the physician assistant program.

Read more about Nicole's experience

Jordan Luther

Jordan Luther, bible and religion '15

"EMU’s Bible and Religion Department is a real gem. Working closely with professors helped prepare me for graduate studies in unique ways. The strengths of the Bible and religion faculty became critical ingredients that laid a solid foundation for my communication skills."

Jordan Luther is earning a Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Read more about Jordan's experience.

Joshua Lomas '15

Joshua Lomas, liberal arts and business '07

"EMU taught me that success means nothing if I use it to put others down. It is that care for community, which EMU instilled in me, that made me the perfect leader as a success coach." Joshua provides support for students who are current or former members of the foster care system.

Joshua Lomas is pursing a Master's of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Kutztown University.

Read more about Joshua's experience.

Malerie Plank

Malerie Plank, nursing ’07

“My nursing professors at EMU seemed to have a broader understanding of the nursing profession that prepared us clinically to be good registered nurses, but also prepared us for further education if we decided to study more.”

Malerie Plank is pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Iowa.

Read more about Malerie’s experience.

John Tyson

John Tyson, biblical studies ’09

“My academic experience in the Bible and Religion Department was exceptional. Professors were invested in me not only as a student, but as a person. There wasn’t a single occasion in my four years at EMU when a professor wasn’t willing to take an extra question from me or sit down for conversation after class.”

John Tyson received a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2014.

Read more about John’s experience.

Jessica Sarriot

Jessica Sarriot, peacebuilding and development ’11

“My studies at EMU provided me with a critical peace-focused worldview which has shaped how I approach my past professional and current academic ventures.”

Jessica Sarriot is pursuing a master’s in public affairs at Princeton.

Read more about Jessica’s experience.

Karla Martin

Karla Martin, biology and pre-physical therapy ’13

“I think my array of undergraduate experiences and what I’ve learned from those opportunities helped me stand out among others. Playing collegiate volleyball, serving as a community adviser and biology student mentor, gaining cross-cultural experience in the Middle East, and participating in organic chemistry research in Hawaii and Guam marked these formative years.”

Karla Martin is pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Duke University.

Read more about Karla’s experience

Corrie Swartzendruber

Corrie Swartzendruber, nursing ’09

“I remember sitting in Professor Ann Hershberger’s community health class and discussing the health disparities in our community.”

Corrie Swartzendruber is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner in the University of Iowa’s department of anesthesia and Family Nurse Practitioner.

Read more about Corrie’s experiences.

Larisa Zehr

Larisa Zehr, peacebuilding and development ’11

“The practical advocacy I engaged with when I was on campus was really important for me and other students to try out what we were learning.”

Larisa Zehr has recently enrolled in the Northeastern University School of Law.

Read more about Larisa’s experience.

James Souder

James Souder, environmental and social sustainability ’13

“I think my graduate school application was strengthened by a combination of strong undergraduate courses and sincere letters of recommendation from EMU professors.”

James Souder is pursuing a Master of Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Read more about James’ experience.

Blair Wilner

Blair Wilner, bible and religion ’13

“Having the chance to work closely with professors Peter Dula, Ted Grimsrud, Christian Early, and Nancy Heisey prepared me for graduate work not only because they were generous with their time, but also because they were willing to offer the rigorous critiques I needed to help hone my academic skills.”

Addison Blair Wilner is pursuing a Master of Arts in religious studies at the University of Virginia. He has received a Master of Theological Studies at Duke Divinity School.

Read more about Blair’s experience.

Matt Gnagey

Matt Gnagey, economics and peace justice and conflict studies, ’05

“The most important lesson I learned at EMU was to make connections between disciplines. A PhD requires a deep dive into one particular field, but my liberal arts background gave me the ability to maintain balance in my life and keep perspective.”

Matt Gnagey is an assistant professor at Weber State (Ogden, Utah). He received his doctorate in agricultural, environmental and development economics in 2014 from The Ohio State University.

Read more about Matt’s experience.

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