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Meet Emma Zijlstra


Class: Chancellor’s Honors 2018
Majors: Chemistry and Global Studies
Hometown: Murfeesboro, TN

ForEmma holding flag Emma Zijlstra, joining the Chancellor’s Honors Program meant taking the core value of social responsibility to heart. In her opinion more programs should incorporate the tenant as it deals with everyday life and can help you choose the right path for your career. Emma’s socially responsible outlook easily translates into academic exploration. Her passion is to help others through medical research, and she has travelled the world to pursue it.

Emma has enjoyed Honors because of the environment it provides and how it has helped her to get more involved on campus. For her, attending class with like-minded students and engaging one on one with professors has made honors classes more fun and interesting than average coursework. Hearing from Honors about study abroad, student leadership, internship, and job opportunities has encouraged Emma to take part in a myriad of experiences during her college career.

In the spring of 2016, Emma travelled to Geneva, Switzerland through an organization called EuroScholars to meet her honors ‘Ready for the World’ requirement. EuroScholars is a program that places highly talented students from Canada and the U.S. with professors in nine internationally renowned European research universities. Serving a multitude of disciplines, EuroScholars provided Emma with position as a junior lab researcher in a biochemistry lab at a hospital in Geneva. There, Emma conducted lab work entirely in French with graduate students from around the world and a local professor to study how ovarian cancer cells relate in-vivo to artificially high levels of GRP78.

When asked why ‘Ready for the World’ was an important part of the Honors experience, Emma responded, “Learning how to interact with people from other cultures is really valuable. As Honors students, we aim towards the level of international work and it [studying abroad] opens your mind to being able to function in other cultural environments”. Through her ‘Ready for the World’ experience, Emma gained an understanding of how people in other countries collaborate with bosses and coworkers. Interacting with other scholars and the graduate students in her lab gave Emma a worldwide network and the knowledge of how to operate within a lab setting. She enjoyed the individual freedom and opportunity that ‘Ready for the World’ provided to explore, travel, and make new friends. For Emma, studying abroad opened her eyes to the possibility of attending graduate school outside of the United States and expanded her perspective on the type of impact she could have.