Hometown: Stafford Springs, Conn.
Major: Art - Photography
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Art
Activities: Student Government Association secretary (fall 2011 - spring 2012), shadow program (spring 2012 - spring 2013), part-time assistant to university photographer in Office of Publications & Design
Honors and Awards: Honors Program, Honors Student Organization (fall 2010 - spring 2011), Honors Student Organization secretary (spring 2011), Merit Scholar, Visual & Performing Arts scholar, Connecticut Capitol Scholar, Dean's List all three years, 3.71 GPA, graduating Magna Cum Laude
Emily Staley has wanted to major in photography since she was in elementary school. "I have always been creative and found photography to be my favorite outlet," says Staley, who graduated sixth in her high school class with a 3.90 GPA. In her junior year at Stafford Springs High School, she received the St. Michael's Book Award. In her senior year there, she earned the highest grade in the senior class for media & design. "I was both secretary of the Service Corps organization at my high school and an editor of the yearbook senior year — though I was involved with both for three years," she says. "I also worked part time as a child care aide and camp counselor at a local YMCA. I took photographs for the yearbook and my work was used there, but I was never published elsewhere. My chief focus as editor was the layout and design of the book."
Staley decided to come to Western after she attended an Honors Program acceptance breakfast. "All of the faculty who spoke seemed excited about education and our future growth at this university," she says. "It made me even more comfortable in my decision to come to a university that had so many options for me as long as I strived for them."
Staley is graduating after only three years because she had taken so many AP/ECE credits in high school that she basically came into WCSU as a sophomore. "I could have either graduated in three-and-a-half years or three years," she says. "Once I realized that, I decided to take the challenge of taking a couple of extra credits each semester and finish in three years — taking extra courses with the honors program helped me get ahead."
While she already had logged plenty of time behind a camera in high school, Staley says her skill level grew at Western. "University Photographer Peggy Stewart and Assistant Professor of Art Cathy Vanaria helped me the most to become a stronger photographer. I feel more confident in my ability since I began working with the two of them."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Staley says, "I have grown exponentially as an artist and as a photographer with the help of the wonderful professors here. I made connections that helped place me in positions to advance my career and leadership skills. I could not be more pleased with my experience at this university."
Staley plans to find a full-time job retouching, selling and archiving images in New York City or Boston before pursuing a master's degree in the business side of art/photography. "I am extremely excited to finally be entering the workforce," she says.
Staley’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Talk to everyone, join clubs, and never let an unexpected opportunity pass you by. You'll be amazed at how much you can grow in your years at WestConn as long as you put yourself out there and take risks."