Emily Wicht is probably counting the days until she receives her license in December to teach physical education, bringing her sports management degree from Emory & Henry full circle.
She recently completed one week of field placement at Stewart Middle School in Augusta County, Va. “One week was not enough. The kids energized me so much, I cannot wait to teach for an entire school year,” she said.
“I have loved the direction life has taken me since graduating from Emory & Henry, but it will be nice to finally have a real career,” said Wicht, whose path has been a bit of a bumpy ride for the Harrisonburg, Va., resident.
While a student at Emory & Henry, Wicht even considered graduate school for hospitality tourism and management.
“Oh, how things change,” laughed the 2008 alumna who did not pursue furthering her education after graduation, but instead held various jobs that wound up teaching her more about herself than she realized.
One of those jobs was a volunteer coordinator for Indian River Habitat for Humanity in Vero Beach, Florida, one of the largest Habitat for Humanity organizations in the country. During her three years at the job, Wicht taught homeowner education classes on topics including neighboring, predatory lending, and home maintenance. She also taught first-time volunteers how to paint, frame, and install roofing.
But, it wasn’t long into that job that Wicht had a light bulb moment. “I suddenly realized that teaching was my favorite part of the jobs I’d held.”
Combining her passion for teaching with her love of the outdoors, Wicht had discovered her niche after all these years. “I love staying active outside. In the summer I’m always hiking, kayaking, or biking somewhere. I decided teaching physical education would be the perfect job for me.”
In August, Wicht enrolled in the Career Switcher Program at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia, near Harrisonburg, where she is on her way to earning a teaching license. While attending classes, Wicht is working for the Office of Comprehensive Services for Rockingham County, Va. Prior to that, she was a case worker for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in Harrisonburg.
“I never would have had the insights or the ambition to keep pursuing a career if it hadn't been for my experiences at Emory & Henry. The small classes helped me to explore my talents, to connect with other people, and to think for myself. Emory empowered me to hold myself more accountable for my actions. I learned I could do anything I set my mind to,” she said. Wicht graduated with magna cum laude while holding down three jobs as a student at E&H.
“The small community of Emory helped me learn how to build networks. I especially liked Emory's focus on service learning. I still look for opportunities to get involved in the community,” she said.
Wicht seldom shies away from opportunities. Before embarking on a teaching career, she spent six months traveling and participating in an Outward Bound leadership course that gave her the opportunity to travel with an all-women’s sailing trip in Maine. “It was an awesome experience.”