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Emory Community: A Process of Self-discovery

This week we’re diving deep into the campus community at Emory University. Here, diversity goes beyond checking a box for race, religion, or gender, understanding that each student is a unique blend of all of this and so much more. We’ve invited seven current students to share about their community experiences, and we encourage you to read them all here.

Julianna Joss

Anaheim, CA
Political Science and Dance & Movement Studies double major
Campus Involvement: Freedom at Emory, Student Government Association, Emory Dance Company, Scholarship and Service, Kappa Kappa Gamma

How have your multiple, intersecting identities been celebrated?
My honors thesis in Dance is actually exploring how identity influences and informs movement and how identity is communicated through the vessel of the moving body. As part of the Emory community, I have been so impressed with the confidence my peers have in their respective identities. It made me realize how confused I felt about my own identity, as a half-Jewish, part-Japanese woman. My quest for truth became this process of self-discovery, and the dance community has allowed me to explore this, which has been quite empowering. In addition, the Hillel community and the Bayit (Jewish living learning community) have embraced and deepened my personal relationship with Judaism.

What is your favorite multicultural celebration on campus?
This is not necessarily a celebration, but some of my most meaningful moments have been in Buddhist meditations offered weekly on campus. These have been invaluably self-reflective and self-restorative over the years. As a side note, the Tibetan monks that attend Emory are the kindest, brightest, and most amazing souls. We are so fortunate to have them in our community as part of the Emory-Tibet Partnership.

How have you been changed by Emory’s community?
Emory’s diverse community has exposed me to intersectional social justice. I am recognizing the roots and processes of oppression and marginalization—how connected and layered these issues in our society are. I have spent a lot of time listening and learning from my peers who are extremely different than I; seeking understanding and developing empathy for their realities.

In addition, at Emory, I discovered my passion for immigration reform and undocumented student advocacy.  After completing the Scholarship and Service summer program (part of the Emory Scholar Programs) after my first year, I was exposed to some of the oppressive policies imposed on undocumented students in Georgia, barring them from attending college.  I was furious and devastated knowing this was the way my peers were treated. I co-founded Freedom at Emory, which is a coalition to advocate for the educational rights of undocumented students and made it a mission to make Emory more inclusive of undocumented students. Less than a year later in April 2015, Emory changed its policy to provide financial aid to undocumented students. While there is still much work to be done, I have never prouder to attend a university that supports and celebrates the identities of immigrants.

Don’t hesitate to connect with us by posting a comment to this blog, tweeting us @emoryadmission, or emailing us at We look forward to hearing from you!


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