The NESCAC is brimming with talented student-athletes and the "Friday Feature" is a way for fans to get to know them throughout the academic year. The conference introduces Bates' Emma Wheeler, a rower from Norway who volunteers as a translator.
Photo Credit: Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College
Emma Lea Wheeler, Bates College
Sophomore, Women's Rowing
Bergen, Norway/St. Andrew's School
Majors: Geology, French
Why did you choose to attend Bates College?
I knew I wanted to go to school somewhere in the north, where the winters would be snowy and where I'd have access to mountains. Bates was immediately appealing simply because of its location, but I ultimately chose the school based on the people I met during my overnight visit. Of the overnight visits I did with various rowing teams, Bates was the only place I really wasn't ready to leave after 24 hours. I wanted to stay and be a student and a part of the crew team right then and there, and couldn't imagine going anywhere else.
Why did you choose to be a Division III student-athlete?
I wanted to be able to pursue academic interests (like going on weekend long trips to look at rocks) but also row at a highly competitive level. A Division III program like Bates lets me do exactly that.
What is your dream job/career? Why?
Eventually, I want to work within environmental policy or law, fields that will allow me to tie together a scientific understanding of, and love for the outdoors with a deep seated belief that the way environmental issues are handled in many countries today needs to change.
What extracurricular activities do you participate in?
I play club ice hockey during the winter, am a student eco-rep and translate French for a local lawyer working with asylum seekers.
Which academic/extracurricular/community service project that you have been a part of has been the most rewarding? Why?
Along with a number of other Bates students, I work as a translator for a lawyer working with asylum seekers in Lewiston. Many of the asylum seekers are from Francophone countries, and either speak little English or none at all, which is why French speaking students at Bates can help. Although the stories the people seeking asylum in the United States have to tell are often painfully heartbreaking, listening to what they have been through has exposed me, although indirectly, to a world I had never had direct contact with. Feeling like I am helping these people find some sort of stability and happiness is very rewarding, and meeting people who have successfully been through the process is inspiring. The time I've spent translating has also allowed me to form my own beliefs on what I feel needs to change in the immigration system within the United States.
What has been the greatest part of your college experience so far?
There are so many, but winning the NCAA Championship last year with an incredible group of women (and the best coach of course) tops all of them.
What has been the most interesting part of your major so far?
The first geology class I took was a class called Field Geology in Maine. We went on numerous multi-day field trips all over Maine and were introduced to geological concepts while actually being able to see evidence that what we were learning happened. Finally being able to connect what I was seeing outside to an actual understanding of earth processes is so cool.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being a student-athlete?
Hard work pays off, even when it's not immediately apparent. There were so many ups and downs during my first year of college, both academically and in rowing, but I have learned that the things that matter the most are the ones I am willing to put all my love and effort into, and those are the ones worth pursuing.
What is your favorite place on your campus and why?
My favorite place on the Bates campus is "Commons", the dining hall! Partly because of the good food but mostly because of how it brings the Bates student body together. We only have one dining hall, which means that a big portion of the student body ends up in the same place multiple times a day. Commons is about so much more than the food - it allows the students to bond in a very unique and amazing way.
What is something interesting about you that others might not know?
I grew up playing a sport called bandy. It's like a mix between soccer, field hockey and ice hockey. It's played mostly on an outdoors rink that is the equivalent of a frozen soccer field, with a ball, sticks and on skates. It's pretty popular in Scandinavia but no one's ever heard of it here!