Emily Branzell, a 2020 graduate of Mercer University‘s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology.

What are your plans after graduation?

Long term I would love to work for a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals foundation and to also obtain either my Master of Business Administration or Master of Public Health.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

Dr. Laura Simon. Dr. Simon understands that there are multiple levels of teaching students. She makes an effort to get to know her students and is receptive to external factors that could be causing issues with schoolwork or increasing stress. Though Dr. Simon prepared a very organized and detailed lesson plan, she was always willing to adjust, especially if topics we were discussing ended up on the news or were occurring in life at that moment. During COVID-19 online classes, she provided many options for students while asking for constant feedback on how her students were doing both academically and emotionally. She is truly an inspiration to all Mercer Bears!

What is one of your favorite Mercer memories?

Bearthon 2019. It has been such an honor to be a part of a team and organization so focused and driven to help sick children in our community. Our Bearthon event is the time that all of our campus participants, our junior executive board, executive board, local sponsors, hospital staff and miracle children, come together to celebrate the work put into raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. During this event, we reveal our fundraising total for the year. In 2019, I was able to be on stage and flip one of our reveal numbers. Looking out and seeing the tears of joy that flooded everyone and hearing the roar of cheering that took over the room was terrific.

What was your favorite class and why?

UNV 101. As a transfer student who came in the spring, I was nervous that I would come in and feel like I didn’t belong and that I was behind. My peer adviser, Sarah Donnelly, was amazing at introducing us to the Macon and Mercer community. She provided outlets that we could get involved in during the spring and told us about ones we could get involved in during the fall. Any time we were struggling or frustrated, Sarah and Amanda Carls were there to help and provide any guidance they could. It ultimately led me to be a transfer peer advisor as well to help others become acclimated to their new homes.

How do you plan on changing the world?

Through empathy and taking a second before speaking. If I have learned anything in college, it is that the best way to change the world is by being slow to speak but quick to listen. Mercer urges students to be at the forefront of innovation and global solutions. But it is so vital that we are taking the time to talk to the communities and people we are helping and providing the solutions that they need. If we all took a moment to pause and listen to people, their stories, their struggles and incorporated empathy into our solutions, the world would be a much happier place full of a lot more love.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Become REALLY passionate about something, chase after it and then figure out how you can help others with it. Passions continuously change, and that’s OK. Mercer provides the paths to become involved in hundreds of topics. Don’t get too caught up in trying to do all of them. Find what really makes you excited to get up every day. That doesn’t mean it’s the easiest thing, but what fuels you? If you really enjoy video games, join Extra Life, where video game tournaments are put on to raise money for local children’s hospitals. Remember to invest in yourself and your passions because you can’t help others if you are on empty yourself. But if you can figure out a way to connect the two, it will be so rewarding.

How did Mercer prepare you for your future?

Mercer has hired staff that genuinely invests in its students and their futures. I have been able to gain mentorships from some amazing staff members such as Dr. Randy Harshbarger, Dr. Simon, Dr. Fletcher Winston and so many more. They have prepared me for how to take on the world one bite at a time. They have taught me to plan and run toward my goals but to be flexible with the curve balls that life may throw. They have shown me not to run from adversity but to take it head-on and to learn from it.

What makes Mercer special to you?

Your time at Mercer is what you make of it. If you come into your college career and want to solely focus on academics, you can do that. If you come in and want to focus on your mental and physical health, you can do that as well. If you come in and want to make a difference in the Macon community, you can do that. Mercer’s location and amenities allow for students to become passionate and to thrive in what they choose to become a part of. Also, one time we beat Duke in basketball.

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