For Emily Ortiz ’17, Success Also Stands for Career of Service

By Laura Wiersema ’18 

Life often takes us to unexpected places. For Emily Ortiz ’17, it took her from Lawrence, Kansas, to Simpson College, to London and next to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

From the minute she left Kansas, Ortiz knew she’d get her degree in history and political science. Opportunities in the John C. Culver Public Policy Center and helpful professors in the history department at Simpson made that clear.

“The students and faculty that I met as a prospective student were personable and friendly,” Ortiz said. “It felt like an academic atmosphere and I really fell in love with the campus.”

When she traveled abroad to study in London, Ortiz wasn’t alone. She was lucky enough to go with her roommate, someone she could share the memories with.

“We went all over Europe and got to see all these amazing historical sites like the palace in Madrid, and to the St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland,” she said.

So how did Ortiz end up in Mississippi? A roommate did an Americorp VISTA program last summer and recommended the program to her. Intrigued by the idea of traveling around the United States doing service work, she discovered the National Civilian Community Corps.

“Service work is something I’ve always felt pretty passionate about, and I knew I made the right choice to do this when I did an RLC (Religious Life Community) service trip to Baton Rouge, an area where I might be working during my year of service,” Ortiz said.

Assigned to the southern region and based in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ortiz will be working in teams of 8-10 people, doing various service work such as housing reconstruction, volunteering in National Parks and working alongside local nonprofits.

In the future, Ortiz sees herself working in a nonprofit or in a National Park or National Historical Society. It all starts with taking the first step at Simpson.

“If it feels right, go for it,” she said. “The staff and professors are really personable and genuinely want you to succeed.”