AlumKnight Spotlight – August 2022

August 2022 Spotlight: Emile Vasquez-Mejia

Emile Vasquez-Mejia (Class of ’20), Hamilton College, Graduating in Spring 2024

Degree: Anthropology with a minor in French Studies

Career Goals: I want to potentially go to Law School and work in immigration law.

What has been the biggest surprise about the college experience? The biggest surprise about the college experience is definitely the culture shock from Florida to New York. People think that Miamians are mean and rude but in New York, no one says hi even though you’ve met them before — they will literally pretend that they have never seen you before. Hamilton culture is also a bit different in the sense that this is a little Ivy so a lot of students here think they are “all that” and when they speak to you, even if it is in informal conversations — they will speak with elevated vocabulary that it feels like you’re in a classroom. However, not everyone is like that either.

Most challenging coursework in college: The most challenging coursework in college has been learning a third language. Growing up I spoke Spanish at home and learned to speak English in school but at a very young age so, I never truly had to focus on “past, present or future tenses.” It has been difficult to learn French, especially when we can only speak French in class. It has been challenging but in a good way where I feel like I have gained a better understanding of the language and speak it more fluently now.

Accomplishment most proud of: I received the Convocation Award for multicultural students who have demonstrated academic success in their first year at Hamilton College from the class of 1990. I became a Resident Advisor my sophomore year — it has been a great experience because I am so happy to be able to help other students navigate across campus and be a resource that they can go to. I also have created close relationships with them and have become like a big sister. I am on the rowing team, and we came in second place in the NESCAC championships in 2021. I am also treasurer of the Latinx club where we create a safe space for various students to come and feel like they belong in this PWI. I am also currently working in an on campus internship in Alumni Relations where I connect with graduated students and invite them to talk about their field of study. I am currently working on hosting an Earth/Arbor week where we will have alumni guest speakers talk about climate change and justice issues in relation to the environment in celebration of Earth/Arbor Day. We will also have some merch that I will be designing and potentially a concert. Still figuring that out lol. I am also taking French and I am thinking about studying abroad this upcoming spring and I think that I am starting to master the language because sometimes I think in French. So now I will be trilingual and I’m really proud of that! I also am mentoring some Posse Scholars where I have created this Google Folder where they can find the campus map, people they should talk to if they need certain things or what to do if they lose their Hillcard (cause I lost mine multiple times) and just life advice in general.

Can you provide any advice to our current Knights? It is okay to not know but it is not ok to stay in the unknown. Research, research, research — the information will not fall on your lap. Go where the money is (if you get a good scholarship some where.. TAKE IT). If you can afford to not stay in Miami — LEAVEEEEE! Like I said, if you get a scholarship out of state TAKE IT! Miami is a big bubble and even moving a little more north of Florida you will gain an experience — it may be good, it may be bad, but it’s worth the risk.

I paid for college with…: Posse Scholarship, CAP Grant, and Convocation Award.

Fondest memory from high school: I will never forget Mr. Cruz’s two rules: 1) break up and 2) leave. I never understood why he would tell us that all the time but when I finally took his advice, my life really changed and it has been a crazy experience since then. He would always tell us stories of himself in China, that one time his car flipped because of a cow (I think) and how he truly got to see the world little by little which in turn, inspired me to do the same. I have had my ups and downs, but I do not regret my decision to leave Florida. Although, I realized I absolutely hate the snow, I have also created great memories and friendships. Now, I have my own stories to tell and I am glad I listened to him.