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Emma Waitzman

Emma Waitzman

Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
High School: West High School
Intended major: Biology and Sociology/Anthropology
Possible career: Community organizing

While in high school Emma was a leader in the Comprehensive Sexual Education movement in Utah, an Abstinence-only curriculum state. She organized marches, conducted a survey, lobbied political leaders and planned meetings with the local and state school boards to bring awareness about teen pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Emma was also acknowledged on a state level for her art.

During the summers, Emma volunteered in Arizona on a Hopi reservation to restore a well and a spiritual house. She gained a better understanding of Hopi culture and learned from the elders about spirituality and living off of the land. She also traveled to Matagalpa, Nicaragua as part of the Amigos program, where she worked with community members to build chicken coops, engaged youth in a mural project, and taught classes about the environment. Emma made strong connections with the members of her host community; she learned to respect and enjoy a different lifestyle than her own. For six summers, Emma also volunteered at a camp for kids with autism. She learned about the childrens' struggles and unique characteristics. Emma believes it is important to have a strong social conscience and contribute to one's community.

Emma spent the summer of 2011 in La Gonave, Haiti to better understand an area frequented by the media for its poverty yet underrepresented for its culture and humanity. Emma traveled independent of an organization and initiated a latrine project with her host family. In addition, she created a project in her host community and nearby communities to photograph families who were interested in having an archive and keepsake of their family histories. As she was traveling alone, with very little prior knowledge of Haitian Creole, Emma humbly threw her trust into the country and her host family, which allowed for an incomparable learning experience.