Emma Daniels ’13 has a well-known face—even she thinks so—and certainly makes some noise around campus. She sometimes reminisces about the big name bands she’s been in at Wesleyan. The Argus sat down with Daniels to discuss her voice, her College of Letters (COL) thesis, and the importance of telling stories.
The Argus: What makes you unique? Why are you being WesCeleb-ed?
Emma Daniels: What makes me unique? [Laughs.] I’m not sure. Why am I being WesCeleb-ed? Probably because every time one of my friends is WesCeleb-ed, I run around publicly screaming, “Why was I not WesCeleb-ed?” for at least, like, 24 hours. And then I go and apologize to that friend and tell them, “No, it’s okay, it’s like, I’m really cool, I’m chill with it.” I just wanted to be WesCeleb-ed…to be honest, I just wanted the endorsements. I wanted free clothes and money…I wanted free sneakers and Lululemon gift certificates.
A: WesCelebs don’t get those things; I hope you’re okay with that.
ED: [Laughs.] Okay. I think I’ll handle it.
A: What kinds of things do you do around campus?
ED: On campus…if [people] see my face and they think they’ve seen it before, they’re probably right, and it’s probably been on stage. Probably not musicals so much, like Second Stage musicals (I’ve done three of those), but probably with bands. I sing with a bunch of bands. Sometimes yell with bands. Probably Top 40 concerts. I used to sing with Wordsmith and the Concert Gs and Mad Wow, but everyone in those bands graduated, so it’s just a distant memory now. But probably right now, I sing with a folk band called The Blooming Youth that is no longer really together because we both have our theses to work on. But Top 40 is alive and well and kickin’! So we do things and parties and stuff. That’s probably the biggest…I’m also a senior interviewer! That’s fun; that’s a lot of work.
A: So what do you do as a senior interviewer?
ED: It’s the weirdest job. If you can imagine meeting hundreds of different people with the same goal and then ranking them based on their goal and what they’ve done up to this point, that’s basically what I do. I meet with prospective students and I ask them questions about their lives at high school and what they’ve accomplished in their first 17 years, which is just funny. Then I do a write-up and say, you know, this is how I perceive this person…this student, I think they’d be good at Wesleyan, I don’t think they’d be good at Wesleyan, and we write up a page and submit it, and it goes in with their application. I do info sessions, I answer questions, I represent Wes. Woohoo!
A: So are you “Wes”?
ED: Am I Wes? I think I’m a type of Wesleyan. That’s such a Wes answer! [Laughs.] [Mocking] “I constantly contemplate diversity.” No. I think I’m a certain type of Wesleyan. I think there are definitely archetypes that exist at this school, and I definitely fulfill one or two or a couple of them. But I always like to say, and this is pretty true, the Wesleyan student is passionate and they can be passionate about whatever they do, and most of my friends are passionate about more than one thing. So yeah, in a certain way I’m passionate about a bunch of different things and everyone I know here is…you know…they throw their entire selves into whatever it is they’re doing. So when people are like, “Are you Wesleyan?” I’m like, “Well you are, so boom. Right back at you.”
A: And you are also a student athlete?
ED: I was. No longer. I played lacrosse my first two years, but if you visit the gym, I’ll probably still be there! I still go all the time, and I was very shortly working with the cheerleaders and getting them fit. I think that what’s so great about Wesleyan is that even though I’m not part of a team anymore, I still go running with one of my best friends who is captain of the lacrosse team this year. Don’t tell her, but I whooped her ass at stairs the other day in the hockey rink. Just completely kicked her ass. That’s something that I actually really love about Wesleyan…even when you’re not an athlete, you can still be really athletic and go run around and be crazy and play sports, and I like that.
A: So you’re a COL major, but you did your study abroad during the summer?
ED: Yeah, so all COL majors were accepted at the same time. We were all accepted our freshman spring, and because I was still an athlete, I couldn’t go abroad my sophomore spring. So I went over the summer. I went to Costa Rica, and then I went back during my junior winter break to work there with the same program I had studied with. I was an intern with them because it was such a kick-ass study abroad experience. So I was a COL major with everyone else, but I just went abroad later.
A: So you are writing a thesis?
ED: I am writing a thesis!
A: What is it?
ED: I grew up with nannies. I think I’ve had almost 15 nannies throughout my lifetime. Yeah, I have some crazy stories like fire alarms in 200-year-old houses and stuff like that. But one of my favorite nannies taught me how to speak Spanish in high school. She was from Brazil, so she spoke Portuguese, but [she] also lived in Colombia. So I really started to have this interest in Latin America because she was funny, basically, and awesome. You know, like, “This person’s great! She must represent all of Latin America!” So when I got here I really dove—in addition to COL—really dove into Latin American studies and literature…So I kind of continued with my interest in Latin American studies and have also concurrently been really interested in how people tell stories, like the way people represent their own time.
All these Latin American countries are so different. I spent my time in Costa Rica, a really peaceful place. I didn’t know whether I wanted to write a thesis on Costa Rica just because I had gone…I had always been really interested in societies where authors specifically serve as figures who can change a society or try to change a society. This one author, Fernando Vallejo, wrote a book called “La virgen de los sicarios” (“Our Lady of the Assassins”), and it’s about the drug trade and violence in the 70s and 80s and 90s—early, early, early 90s—in Colombia, and what it means as an author to try to shake a society awake that’s been normalized to seeing dead people in the streets. When things that look that out of whack seem normal to you, it’s really hard to change. So I’m looking at that book and looking at morals and ethics of societies—of that Colombian society…I’m specifically looking at what it meant during the 70s and 80s to be living in Colombia and living in Medellín. It’s not completely focused, but it’s getting there. Winter break’s gonna be great.
A: So are you a double major?
ED: No. I’m three credits away. Three credits away from Hispanic Literatures! But I couldn’t cut it.
A: What’s been your favorite moment of the last four years?
ED: Holy shenanigans. My favorite moment. I feel like I’ve just laughed a lot here…like, everyone here was one of the smartest people at their high school and so everyone comes in with a certain level of confidence. And then I showed up and I called my parents the first day and I [was] like, “Everyone here is smarter than me.” It’s true. I think what happens when you’re around people who are smarter than you is they’re also funnier than you are. Everyone here is so frickin’ sharp that I’m just constantly laughing. So I feel like my favorite moment is maybe the fact that I’m always laughing here. It’s so fun to be happy.
I’m trying to think of one moment. Oh, maybe sophomore year. Sophomore year, Mad Wow got to play the Tent Party, and I got to open the concert singing “Respect,” and I remember I wore my junior prom dress (talk about reliving the past). I wore my junior prom dress, couldn’t breathe, and got on stage and saw that there were two or three thousand people there, and I was like, “This is the most famous I’m ever gonna get,” and it was awesome. It was great. So yeah, that’s probably one of the big ones.
A: Awesome. So what do you plan to do six months from now?
ED: What will that be? Will that be June?
A: Yeah, after you graduate.
ED: There’s that open curriculum for you. No math classes, woo! Hopefully I will be taking a post-graduation trip somewhere abroad with my little sister, ’cause she’s graduating high school and she’s my best friend in the whole world. We want to go to Spain or Italy or Greece or something and then [I’ll be] promptly starting whatever job I get! [Laughs.]
A: Which will possibly be in what field?
ED: I want to write. So like, journalism (which I didn’t do here). My dream is probably to talk. To talk. [Laughs.]
A: You’re good at it.
ED: I’m so good at talking! No, I mean I think that even though newspapers are dying things—dying commodities—there’s always a desire, this insatiable desire that humans have to connect with each other and learn about each other. So I think that, if nothing else in the world, go have a few adventures and write about them and help people learn about other people. I think that that’s the way we learn; that’s the way societies grow and change and evolve. It’s how we fix big problems, when you learn about other people.
A: Is there anything else you want the world that reads WesCeleb to know?
ED: That if you wave to me as a result of this article and I don’t wave back, it’s because I usually don’t have my contacts in and I hate wearing my glasses, so I probably can’t actually see you. But if you get just a little closer and try again, I’ll probably say “hi!”