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Emily McHugh
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Emily McHugh

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: Palatine, Ill.

Major: Elementary education (with K-12 Reading Teacher Endorsement)

Activities: Sigma Pi Delta sorority, Royal Neighbors of America

Internship: Student taught at Denkmann Elementary School in Rock Island, Ill.

Post-grad plans: Teach sixth grade at Campanelli Elementary School in Schaumburg, Ill.

Why Augustana?

When I visited Augie’s campus for the first time, I knew that I could make it a home. I learned of all the opportunities available through the education department, like various study abroad programs catered to education majors and a reading teacher endorsement that could enhance my knowledge and passion of education. Hearing of the endless opportunities that would be made available to me sealed the deal.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

I don’t know what I thought life at Augustana would be like, but I underestimated it. As soon as I moved into my freshman-year dorm, I knew that college truly would be the best four years of my life. The Augustana community is so inclusive, and I immediately became involved in activities across campus. I was challenged by friends and professors, both academically and personally, and have grown from every experience.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

The friends that I made encouraged me to burst out of my comfort zone and try new and exciting things. I wouldn’t be as social or outgoing if it weren’t for the friends I made in my sorority and through classes. My professors can’t go unthanked either. They challenged the way I think about education and fostered a sense of curiosity within me. I am grateful for the time they spent asking difficult questions to deepen my understanding of schools and what they are for.

Peak experience?

Over this last spring break, I was fortunate enough to visit Jamaica and teach at the Alpha Schools in Kingston. In the class prior to departure, I studied Jamaican music, culture and education. Applying what I had learned in class during our time in Jamaica was awesome.

The highlight of the trip was teaching in a fourth-grade classroom. The students were some of the happiest children I’ve ever met, and it was amazing to see the similarities between their class and the fourth graders I student-taught in Rock Island. The memories I made with my friends on this trip will forever be cherished, and it was one of the many peak experiences I’ve had at Augustana.

What surprised you?

I realized that I am more capable than I give myself credit for. Initially, I was worried to be taking four or five college-level classes at one time. I quickly found out that I was able to manage the coursework while still having time for a social life, to participate in extracurriculars, work in the Admissions Office and get enough sleep. In high school, I would never have imagined that “college-me” could be this comfortably involved.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice to travel to Norway during my junior year. While touring the gorgeous country, I visited the Ibsen Museum and Vigeland Park to learn about Norwegian literature and art. Education majors were able to visit the Fyllingsdalen Skole (school) and take part in the English lesson for the day. The highlight of the trip was definitely the day when the group bundled up to go dog sledding and then to see the Northern Lights!

What will you miss the most?

I am going to miss the supportive environment that is Augustana College. Every day, I feel an overwhelming sense of support from my professors, sorority sisters and fellow elementary education majors. I am going to miss being a part of the welcoming community that is Augie’s campus, but I am well prepared to succeed as a future educator.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

Be social. Go up to that unfamiliar face and introduce yourself. All of my favorite memories were made with people I met at various points throughout my four years. Meet as many people as possible. Take advantage of every day because before you know it, you’re a senior with one month of school left. You won’t live five minutes from your best friends for the rest of your life.

“Emily has stepped beyond the boundaries of the traditional Augustana experience by teaching an English lesson in Bergen, Norway; educating fourth graders in Kingston, Jamaica; participating in a Number Sense research project at Longfellow Elementary in Rock Island; and completing her Reading Teacher Endorsement. She has developed a thoughtful, clearly articulated teaching philosophy that promotes intellectual growth and an empathetic space for learning. She understands that making a difference is not about what we teach; it is about how we teach. Emily will compassionately inspire every student who walks through her classroom door.”

– Dr. Deb Bracke, associate professor, education