Degree/Year: B.A. in sociology, 2012
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Current: Living in Delhi, India, as part of the M.A. in transformational urban leadership through Azusa Pacific University
Bonus: You can follow Emily’s work through her blog at www.emilyechevarria.tumblr.com and other social media outlets.
What Samford faculty or staff member had the most influence on you and why? Hugh Floyd, sociology department chair, has greatly influenced the way I think and perceive the world around me. He had several favorite quotes that he regularly cited, one of which was something akin to, “The only problem with a simple answer is that it’s wrong.” Dr. Floyd challenged us to look at any situation from multiple perspectives and to be wary of quick fixes. In an increasingly globalized world, the value of this piece of wisdom cannot be overstated. Living in a cross-cultural context, this piece of wisdom has helped me be more flexible in the face of unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable situations.
What would you say is the key to success in today’s world? While I am not sure about the key to success, I’m fairly certain about the key to meaningfulness: listening to the Lord, listening to others, trusting Him and taking the necessary risks, especially when you are terrified. Do not let a small view of yourself keep you from taking that step, whatever it may be. Ask God how to use your talents, passions and experiences because there is an important role for them in the goodness the Lord working out through the Body.
What is a favorite Samford memory? My entire freshman year was a dream. Being from Florida, I got to experience living in seasons for the first time. Everything was new and exciting! I met my roommate with whom I would live with for five years and who would become my best friend. And, I learned so much about community. My freshman residence hall experience set the bar high with a resident assistant who organized luaus, slip ‘n slides and city-wide scavenger hunts. She put up with our absurd antics and encouraged us to grow in our faith. Comments from that hall Bible study have stayed with me through today.
What was your motivation for going to India and why are you there? It is a two-year master’s program, spending one semester in urban Los Angeles and 20 months living and learning in a slum community overseas. Course topics are wide-reaching and include church leadership and mobilization, asset-based community organizing, social entrepreneurship and catalyzing grassroots movements. My freshman year at Samford, the Holy Spirit broke my heart for the dalits (untouchables) of India, who are told from the day they are born that they are dirty and, oftentimes, less than human. The message of Christ is one radically different, unique and potent, and rather than keeping this group at the margins, invites them in as children of God.
Why is giving back so important to you? I think of Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you, O man, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” What an exciting calling! Every day in Delhi is a new adventure of excitement, heartbreak, frustration and humor. As a follower of Christ, I cannot help but feel the intense gravity of doing whatever I am able to secure access to a better life for those who are often overlooked. I am learning and making mistakes often, but my hope is that I am on the path to learning how to love people well and to participate effectively and fully in the global Kingdom of God.