Over the last year, AchieveMpls has welcomed several new staff members to our team, including Emily Westerlund. In her role as Manager of Monitoring & Evaluation, Emily plays a critical role in evaluating the effectiveness of our career and college readiness programs, providing our program teams with the data-informed insights they need to better meet the needs of our students.
We asked Emily to share some insights into her life as a young student, her favorite memories from school and what she enjoys about working at AchieveMpls. This is what she had to say:
What was some good advice you were given as a young person that changed your life?
I don’t remember if someone actually gave me this advice or if I just happened upon the opportunity, but my decision to study abroad absolutely changed the trajectory of my life and career. I was a (still) undecided sophomore in college when I decided to study abroad in South Africa, and that immersion into something totally new and different gave me such perspective and allowed me the time and space I needed to discover more about myself and where I wanted to go in life.
What is one of your best memories from school (K-12)?
There are some really meaningful memories I have related to achievement in sport, the arts, and academics in high school. But the one that comes to mind is just a funny memory from my senior year in high school. I was having lunch with friends in our usual spot and we noticed the door to the pool was unlocked, so we dared one of our friends to jump in, fully clothed, for $20. She totally did, and then just walked to our 5th period class sopping wet and dripping all over the floor. Our Anatomy and Physiology teacher was so mad!
Who was your favorite teacher/school-staff adult and why?
There are quite a few contenders, but I’d say my high school pottery and sculpture teacher was my favorite. First, he played the best music in his class, and the creative working sessions were such a welcome break from academic classes. He treated and spoke to us like adults, which I always appreciated. And he would sneak tidbits of wisdom and life lessons into his class lessons. He also had a great sense of humor.
What activity(ies) did you participate in during your high school years?
I played volleyball through my senior year, and was also really into the arts. I took as many art classes as I could sneak into my schedule: pottery, painting, jewelry, graphic art, photography. I was also a very dedicated dancer. I took classes in ballet, jazz, modern dance, and tap at a private studio throughout the school year. I also lead our high school’s intramural dance team with a friend of mine. It was mostly us creating goofy choreography to fun songs to perform in front of no one at intramural basketball games.
If you could have lunch with any person, dead or living, who would it be and why?
This is a tough one! I think I would choose both of my grandmothers. They passed away when I was in grade school and high school. I would like the chance to get to know them as an adult, and learn more about who they were and their lives growing up.
What do you like most about working at AchieveMpls (so far)?
I really appreciate the positive energy and collaborative spirit of all of my colleagues. I love the genuine commitment to young people in helping them achieve their education and career goals, and the focus on equity and disrupting the status quo in career and education outcomes. I also value that our program staff are representative of the students that we work with—I think this is essential to the success of our work.