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Anisa Leonard

Anisa LeonardHometown: Harrisonburg, Va./Nairobi, Kenya
Grade: First Year   
Major/minor: Social Work major. Honors minor   
Hobbies: Hiking, Reading, Board games, sports

Why did you choose EMU?

I chose EMU because I wanted to be in Harrisonburg. I love all the cute places to go downtown as well as the countless options for outdoor recreation. I also really liked how EMU has so many cross cultural opportunities. Studying abroad is something I really am looking forward to.

Favorite EMU memories

I personally liked living on campus and making so many new friends. I also really like how I am able to have a personal relationship with each of my professors.

If you haven’t gone, which Cross Cultural are you looking at?

I am planning on going on the Middle East cross cultural.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

I love hiking on Skyline Drive as well as kayaking down the Shenandoah River.

Anna Messer

Anna MesserHometown: Staunton, Virginia
Grade: Senior
Major/minor: Double major in Peacebuilding and Development AND Spanish Literature and Hispanic Studies
Hobbies: Exploring the art of cooking. My favorite project right now is mastering the Indonesian Summer roll. Cycling. I bike because of practical reasons. But it seems like it could save the world, so let’s go with that. Supporting EMU athletics. Although I don’t play for EMU,  I am an enthusiastic fan. My most recent hobby is reading. Spanish literature is fascinating! All things outdoors. High knob is my go-to hiking spot.

Why did you choose EMU?

More than anything else, it was a feeling that just felt right. From the friendly faces to the unique peacebuilding program with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the cross cultural program, EMU felt right. EMU has been home since my first steps on campus all the way to my final semester.

Favorite EMU memories

My freshman year, a group of about 50 of us hoped on a bus at 3 am to go to New York. We went to march in the people’s climate march. We joined 311,000 others to show our passion about climate issues and climate justice. This event fueled my energy for social change, environmental sustainability and political and social activism.  

Where are did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?  

A group of about 20 of us went to Guatemala and Cuba. A lot happened that semester, but one of my favorite memories is when all 20 of us squeezed into the back of a small toyota pickup truck and road through a small village overlooking Lake Atitlan. I am still surprised that we made it to our destination after a few close calls with traffic, speed bumps and narrow dirt roads.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

During the week, my favorite study break is a quick drive to Benny’s Pizza. It's a big deal. On the weekends, I like to shop at the farmer’s market and grab a coffee at Black Sheep.

Austin Yoder

Austin YoderHometown: Leola, Pennsylvania
Grade: First-Year
Major/minor: Biology
Hobbies: Listening to music. Playing guitar. Lifting weights. Soccer. Hiking

Why did you choose EMU?

I originally applied to EMU because it was highly recommended to me by current students as well as past alumni. For me, it was pretty important that the science department was strong and had personable professors. Once I actually visited the campus, I found that the people, staff and students, were really friendly and helpful. Something about the environment of the campus felt familiar and inviting, which was a big factor in my decision process.

Favorite EMU memories

I was able to take the skiing class at Massanutten Ski Resort, which was a really awesome experience. Classes like this one gave me the opportunity to meet new people and get off campus. I would highly recommend it.

If you haven’t gone, which Cross Cultural are you looking at?

Middle East

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

The Shenandoah Valley has so many different places to go on hikes, which are all really cool and let you get away from campus for a while. Going downtown offers a lot of different options to pretty much do whatever you’re in the mood for, especially grabbing some food or walking around in general.

Capril Mirarchi

Capril MirarchiHometown: Souderton, Pennsylvania
Grade: Sophomore
Major/minor: Special Education, Minoring in psychology, Algebra 1 add on endorsement
Hobbies: Skiing, Hiking, Being in nature, Finding DIY projects to try out, and Baking.

Why did you choose EMU?

I chose to attend Eastern Mennonite University for the small community feel. I grew up attending small private schools all my life, so I wanted to continue my education with a small college community as well. The best part about the small college feel at EMU is that you see familiar faces everywhere you go, and you can create close relationships with not only your peers but your teachers as well.

Favorite EMU memories

My favorite EMU memory would be having the opportunity to go skiing up at Massanutten ski resort. Not only does EMU plan a ski/ snowboard day for all students to be able to use the facilities up there for only $10, but they also offer a skiing/snowboarding class for a discounted rate. I was able to take advantage of both opportunities with some friends, and it was such a nice opportunity to get off campus and have a different “classroom” setting.

Where are did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?  

I took the Cross Cultural opportunity to go to Spain for 6 weeks in the Summer of 2017. I was skeptical at first since this was my first time out of the United States, but it was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I could have been given. Some of my favorite memories would be all the activities we did to experience local culture such as flamenco dancing, cooking with a Spanish chef, surfing, horseback riding, exc. The best part of the trip was the 4 days we got to free travel in smaller groups and plan our own adventure. My group decided to go to Portugal where we went cliff jumping, hiking, kayaking through rock structures and soaked up the beaches. This is such a great experience, and I highly suggest people step out of their comfort zones and go somewhere they never imagined.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

Even though EMU is a small community, Harrisonburg, and the Shenandoah Valley have so much to offer. My favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley are hiking the beautiful mountains, skiing at Massanutten, and exploring all the food options downtown.

Dan Lutz

Dan LutzHometown: Greencastle, PA
Grade: Senior
Major/minor: Biochemistry
Hobbies: Playing volleyball, hiking, watching reality tv, and hanging out with friends.

What sport do you play? What’s your favorite part about being a NCAA DII athlete?  

I play volleyball for EMU, and my favorite thing about being on the team is immediately joining a family of other athletes.

Why did you choose EMU?

I couldn’t find anything wrong with EMU. I was able to play volleyball and it was the perfect size and distance from home. I also appreciated the cross-cultural program and the new science center.

Favorite EMU memories

My favorite memory at EMU was being on the first men’s volleyball team to make it to the conference playoffs and upsetting the first seeded team in the first round.

Where are did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?  

I went to Spain in the summer of 2017 for six weeks. My favorite moments included staying with host families, working on my Spanish, and surfing in Cadiz.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

I enjoy hiking, eating, and going to dance night at Ruby’s.

Grace Burkhart

Grace BurkhartHometown: Manheim, PA
Grade: Junior
Major/minor: Peacebuilding & Development
Hobbies: Yoga, reading, being with friends, painting, reading Buzzfeed’s gift guides

Why did you choose EMU?

I chose EMU primarily for the Peacebuilding major and the connections EMU has to that field, and secondarily for the Middle East cross-cultural. Both of  those things have exceeded my expectations, and the community here has made it all so fun!

Favorite EMU memories

My roommate and I have a tradition of going to the top of the hill during finals week every semester to stargaze and share memories from the past months. Sometimes we have seen beautiful starry skies, other times we layed in inches of snow!

Where are did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?  

I went on the Middle East Cross Cultural during the spring of my sophomore year. Some of my favorite memories from that trip are swimming in the Sea of Galilee, hiking in Israel from Nazareth to Capernaum, and hearing Pope Francis speak in the Vatican City.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

The sunsets in the Valley are gorgeous, so I enjoy going for long walks in the evenings. In addition, I love trying all the restaurants downtown! There is a great variety of cuisines, including Vietnamese, my personal favorite.

Lara Weaver

Lara WeaverHometown: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Grade: Senior
Major: Psychology
Minor: Art, Biology, Neuroscience
Hobbies: Painting, running, reading, eating out, and traveling.

Why did you choose EMU?

I chose EMU because I loved that EMU was a smaller college but with a variety of people. I also loved how EMU required students to take a cross cultural. I knew that because of this students would be more aware of the world around them. Another thing that drew me to EMU was its location in the Shenandoah Valley, I knew that I would love walking to class with mountains in the background and lots of colors around me.

Favorite EMU memories:

Some of my favorite memories from EMU are simply having quality conversations with friends between classes, in the cafeteria, in the evenings and on the weekends. Joking around with friends and laughing is also a regular occurrence.

Where did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?

I went to Myanmar and Thailand for 6 weeks in the summer between my sophomore and junior year. One of my most distinct memories from this trip was hiking a mountain in Hpa-an Myanmar with hundreds of Buddhas at it’s base, hiking up thousands of steps to the top where there were monkeys climbing the Buddhist pagoda. Another moment that I remember was visiting coastal villages in Myanmar and being exposed to the hospitality of the people in this area when they fed us and showed us around their villages.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

I have hiked Old Rag, a 9 mile hike in Shenandoah National Park with friends countless times because of the challenge of climbing rocks and taking a whole day to do this. Another fun activity (that I may do too often) is to go get half off burgers at Cuban Burger on Tuesday nights after 7pm with my cousin and a few friends.

Megan Breidigan

Megan BreidiganHometown: Douglassville, Pennsylvania
Grade: First-year
Major/minor: Undeclared
Hobbies: soccer, singing, binging Netflix, hammocking, eating peanut butter

What sport do you play? What’s your favorite part about being a NCAA DII athlete?

In addition to giving tours around campus, I can also be found out on the turf playing on the EMU Varsity Women’s Soccer team. I have loved getting to meet and connect with my fellow teammates both on and off the field. It is so great to be on a NCAA DIII team that values the importance of academic excellence, while also striving for success on the field.

Why did you choose EMU?

My father attended EMU, so I had visited campus a few times growing up and liked it from day one. However, it was not until I visited campus during my senior year of high school that I really knew for certain that EMU was the place for me. On this visit, I was welcomed by admissions counselors, the head soccer coach, and students whether in conversation or a simple smile in passing. I remember going to trivia night at Common Grounds and meeting lots of new people as I sipped on my Indian Elephant. So, in addition to the prestigious academics, prospective opportunity to play collegiate soccer, and beautiful location in the Shenandoah Valley, the personal connections that I made during my campus visit were what made me realize that EMU was a community that I wanted to be a part of.

Favorite EMU memories

Some of my favorite memories from my time at EMU so far are playing intramural sports, bus rides to and from away soccer games, laying on blankets outside with my friends, and the Centennial celebration activities.

If you haven’t gone, which Cross Cultural are you looking at?

Guatemala and Spain or Middle East (still trying to choose!)

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

The Shenandoah Valley area was a huge factor in my decision to attend EMU. There are so many cool places to hike and Massanutten is awesome for winter sports activities. I personally love exploring new restaurants and shops downtown with my friends.

Richard Vo

Richard VoHometown: Front Royal
Grade: Sophomore
Major/minor: double major in Organizational Leadership and Marketing
Hobbies : volleyball, painting, theater (acting)

Why did you choose EMU?

I chose EMU because of the small community and interpersonal relationships developed on campus. Being at a small school, I enjoy making strong friendships and connections with the same people that lasts all four years. The interpersonal relationships with my professors help with being seen as a person, rather than a number. The professors are willing to work with you to help you succeed in class.

Favorite EMU memories

My favorite memory from EMU would have to be hosting Friendsgiving as a first-year in the hall and inviting others from different buildings to join the dinner. I also enjoyed swimming in the fountain with other Community Advisors and Resident Directors during the EMU ritual.

Where are did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?  

I made my own cross cultural to Vietnam. It was a trip with my family to meet my father’s side for the first time in forever. It was a cultural shock, being that I do not remember my first experience as I was only one or two years old. One of my favorite moments would have to be seeing and feeding wild monkeys at the Monkey Temple.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

In the Shenandoah Valley, I enjoy hiking in the many trails it offers. In addition, camping is an extremely fun event with some friends as well. My go-to place to escape would have to be Skyline Drive. My town starts the North Entrance of “The Drive,” so I go often to take in the breathtaking scenery and enjoy some alone time.

Sierra Martin   

Sierra MartinHometown: Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Grade: Senior
Major/minor: Biology major, Psychology and Neuroscience minors
Hobbies: Soccer, hiking, reading, crafting, and card games (to name a few)

What sport do you play? What’s your favorite part about being a NCAA DII athlete?  

I play women’s soccer. The best thing about being an athlete at this level is the relationships it creates. There’s high enough competition to motivate a team to achieve success, but it’s relaxed enough to allow for the creating of friendships and wonderful memories. Doing something you love with people who share the same passion is a wonderful connection.

Why did you choose EMU?

I chose EMU because I wanted to remain surrounded by the Mennonite community, continue to play soccer, and be in the mountains. Growing up Mennonite in Colorado made coming to a Mennonite school in the Blue Ridge mountains feel much more like home. Also, EMU has a wonderful Pre-Professional Health Sciences program to allow me to pursue a career in the medical field.

Favorite EMU memories

Getting to know my teammates freshman year ranks among some of the best memories I have. Being able to go to the beach for spring break (not something you can do easily in CO) has also left some fantastic memories. Also, cross cultural probably ranks at the top of the list.

Where are did you go on Cross Cultural? What was one of your many favorite moments?  

I went to the Middle East. It’s hard to pick a favorite moment because the entire trip was surreal and wonderful. If I had to pick, a few that come to mind are riding in a hot air balloon over the Nile at sunrise, hiking Mt. Sinai at sunset, exploring the ancient streets of Jerusalem, and having spring break on the southern coast of Turkey.

Favorite things to do in the Shenandoah Valley?

One of my top of things to do in this area would be hiking – there are so many fantastic trails to take. Another would be exploring downtown Harrisonburg (it’s unique and there are still many places I’m not familiar with even after four years). Also, Harrisonburg is close enough to so many great cities (D.C., Charlottesville, Richmond, etc.) that weekend trips out of town are always a blast.