When math major Emily Cameron ’15 came to Eastern Connecticut State University, she thought she wanted to become a teacher. That was before a variety of enriching experiences opened her eyes to other opportunities. Now, the recent graduate is amid a term of service with AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), working at the very organization that opened her eyes: Eastern.
“I live, eat and breathe Eastern,” said Cameron, who has really taken the classic adage “it is what you make it” to heart. Whether it was serving as a SOC (Student Orientation Counselor), studying abroad in England, building houses in South Carolina with Habitat for Humanity, interning with Windham Public Schools or volunteering with Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), Cameron took every opportunity Eastern offered her to get involved.
“Something Eastern has really instilled in me is the value of community service,” said Cameron, who is now turning that value into a career steppingstone. “As a VISTA, my main role is to work with the tutoring, mentoring and afterschool programs the CCE works with throughout Willimantic.” Cameron coordinates the programs and mobilizes Eastern’s many students who volunteer in Windham Public Schools.
“Volunteering is the best way to figure out what kind of courses or path you want to take for the future,” she said. “I thought I wanted to be a teacher and then I volunteered in schools and realized I couldn’t last all day as a teacher.”
Cameron credits her new career path and aspirations to Eastern’s liberal arts education. “The liberal arts definitely helped solidify my roots in community service and my desire to help people,” she said. “If I was just studying math, I wouldn’t have taken the “Latino’s in the United States” course that turned out to be really eye-opening and helpful with my work here in Willimantic.
“A liberal arts education is invaluable, especially if you aren’t sure what you want to do,” continued Cameron, who reflects fondly on past psychology and science classes, and even the writing intensive course on short stories that she thought she would dread. “Even if you know what you want to do, it’s just good to be educated in things other than your field.”
Cameron’s service with AmeriCorps VISTA is set to conclude this coming summer. The humanitarian mathematician will then set off for Australia, where she may pursue employment at various youth camps or community organizations.
“I have a lot of things I want to do in my lifetime,” she said. “I’m not really sure what I’m going to do in the future but my math education has been extremely beneficial, even if I don’t pursue it as a career.”