Emily Dalton Niles ’09

Emily Dalton Niles

It was music that brought me to Lawrence, but it's the people at Lawrence that will forever stay with me. Some of my earliest memories of Lawrence are family trips to Appleton; family visits with friends (and fellow alum) from my dad's time at Lawrence; early music experiences in high school; and tagging along on trips to concerts at the invitation of my music teacher, Mrs. Speiser. I am forever grateful to her and her family for letting me tag along because each of those experiences expanded my understanding of what music and performance could be, as well as the impact one voice, or many voices, could have not only on a concert stage but also within the greater world we live in.

At Lawrence, my passions found a place to be nurtured as well as challenged. I wanted to be a music teacher, so I got up the courage to audition for the conservatory and worked through nerves and some initial adversity to earn a spot in the BM program by the end of freshman year. I had an interest in government and politics, so I chose to pursue the double degree program to help round out my studies. But while studies were important, it was the community I found at Lawrence that helped me find my voice.

I found that community weeks before school even started as an incoming freshman when I moved into an empty dorm and started training for the tennis season (#LUtennis!). When the season came to an end, I joined other clubs, like Model UN, and held jobs on campus, as well as in the Appleton community that helped me connect with others outside the bubble of Lawrence. As a senior, these experiences, as well as my studies, helped me find my way into my "first job" as a campus organizer during the 2008 election where I got to work on my first presidential campaign, participate in voter education and advocacy efforts both in the community and on campus, and see the emerging power of social media and digital platforms unfold in new ways. This experience became the catalyst for what eventually turned into my chosen career path after graduating as well as my continued engagement and advocacy around the issues I care about today.

Through each of these experiences, I learned so much from those I was able to share them with - we helped each other find our light, as well as share our light. And even though miles, time zones, and busy lives may now make the time between catch-up calls or visits longer, the foundation our years at Lawrence helped to build makes it easy to pick up right where we left off.