Graduate Emma Winn: Paintings, poems and publishing led Honors student to interdisciplinary career


“When I was a kid, I wanted to be an author/millionaire,” said senior Honors student Emma Winn. “I definitely didn’t understand that those two are fairly mutually exclusive, but my hopes are still high. I also had a stint of wanting to be a lawyer and even had an imaginary friend who was a caterpillar prosecutor—I don’t think I understood what lawyers actually did.”

When Winn decided that “millionaire” wasn’t a career path, she settled on studying English with certificates in literature and creative writing, and minoring in political science, classical studies and studio art. In middle school, after bidding adieu to the caterpillar prosecutor, Winn set her sights on publishing.

“I’ve really always loved to read and decided if there was any possible way to incorporate that passion into my life then that’s what I would do,” Winn said. “Still, I definitely am a bit of an indecisive person and have added on my interests as I’ve gone—hence my minors. Hopefully one day I can figure out a way to slap them all together in a fun interdisciplinary way!”

Though Winn’s indecisiveness played a part when applying to colleges, she was proud to become a second-generation Lumberjack, following in the footsteps of her dad. NAU allowed her the opportunity to be creative with the structure of her education, exploring various passions as they came, even taking her to Provence, France, to paint alongside Bruce Aiken, NAU’s former artist-in-residence.

“I had never been outside of the country before when I went, so that was scary, but it was definitely well worth it,” Winn said. “The trip was surreal, and Bruce made the whole trip especially unique. We traveled all around Provence and got to experience different types of landscapes, which felt like an alternate universe.”

Winn didn’t stop there. For her Honors capstone, Winn combined her passions for art, environmentalism, ecocentrism and sustainable artistic expression with an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability within the arts. Through the Hooper Undergraduate Research Award, she explored the anthropogenic impact of humans on the national parks during her junior year.

“As an English major, I’ve done my fair share of writing. Still, I’ve never been given such a huge opportunity to explore my writing as a reaction to real life. And as an art minor, I’ve never been able to express such a breadth of ideas through a series of paintings,” she said. “This research project opened my eyes to how my fields of study can be applied to so many different areas, from academics to creative pursuits.”

Her time at NAU has allowed Winn to develop the ability to adapt to change. Outside of her academic experiences, Winn also developed leadership skills while working as an Honors peer mentor and an Honors 100 facilitator.

“Working with freshmen and helping them through the same types of academic and personal experiences that I had has been one of the most rewarding parts of my experience at NAU and of my life. I think that role will be one of the things that shapes the direction of my future.”

After graduation, she plans to apply to graduate school for a doctorate degree in literature, specifically Victorian studies. But, she said, the possibilities are endless.

“If I’ve learned anything from NAU, it’s that life throws so many opportunities at you if you’re just willing to take them.”


Northern Arizona University LogoMcKenzie McLoughlin | NAU Communications
(928) 523-4789 |

NAU Communications