Skip to main

Class of 2021: Emem Akpan

My Philosophy capstone [is] a race-based piece. As an African American, I believe it is imperative to start discussions surrounding race while considering historical context in order for all people to gain an understanding of certain narratives belonging to marginalized groups. In this thesis I emphasize the necessity to create space for these sorts of dialogues, incorporating philosophical concepts to support my thesis statement.

Emem Akpan

Emem Akpan is a Philosophy and Political Science major with a specialization in American Politics and Law from Fulton, Maryland.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: truly captivated by the architectural beauty and the landscape of the campus. Other than that, I was excited to start my first year of college.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: a me that is closer to who I want to be. These four years have been a journey of self-cultivation, and after I ring the Old Main bell that journey will not cease to continue. My hope is that I leave the Hill with more than just a diploma; I want to be able to leave possessing all the lessons and memories that have shaped who I am today.

Real world experiences: I distinctly remember my internship as a teacher’s assistant for My Design. That was one of my favorite Jan Term classes as a freshman, and as a sophomore I was able to help others learn more about college, careers, and who they are as individuals. I loved that! I was also a first-year facilitator which was fun because I had the chance to work with the incoming first year students and feel their excitement for the new stage in their lives. When I studied abroad at McDaniel’s campus in Hungary, I interned as a media coordinator and ambassador at the American Corner in Budapest. That experience was incredibly enlightening, and I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world which really opened my eyes to new and equally important perspectives.

Aha moment:  I feel as though I have discovered something new every year at McDaniel, either about the world or about myself. These were more of realizations than discoveries, but they have all blown my mind in some way. However, I think one of the best epiphanies I have had was that it is not what others say or think of you that embodies who you are, it is your character and what you know about yourself. I have realized over these four years, through different circumstances, that as human beings we must holdfast not to our reputations, but to our integrity.

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: I do not think people can ever understand fully and to what extent they have influenced someone or something, but I believe that it is a grand honor to work towards a legacy that I can be proud of. With that being stated, I can only hope to leave footprints of dedication and perseverance behind on The Hill. Without these two, there is not much you can accomplish. I also hope to have touched the hearts of those I have personally known, leaving a legacy of compassion and authenticity.

Professor who most influenced who I have become: Every professor I have had the privilege to learn from has simply been outstanding at what they do. They all brought so much more than lesson plans to the table. All my professors have influenced who I am today, whether they know it or not, and for that I am forever grateful.

My mentor. For life.: I think of everyone as a mentor, even my peers. Some people teach me what to do, and some people teach me what not to do. All is beneficial in the school of life. I believe it is important to be open to suggestions from everyone, regardless of who they are. I firmly adhere to the belief that our life experiences, observations, and relationships can serve as an instruction book to mentor us along the way. Subscribing to this belief has allowed me to understand that the best action we can take is to never let these instructions be in vain. We owe it to ourselves and those around us to constantly improve or reinvent who we are based on what we learn and the mentorship we receive. As Heraclitus wrote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Best class ever: As a Political Science major, I can definitely say that I have loved every class I have taken within this department, but I can also say the same for every Philosophy class as well. Both disciplines have blessed me with an abundance of knowledge that is simply invaluable. In Political Science, every class has allowed me to challenge the way the world is while challenging myself to be the change I would like to see in our society. Every Philosophy class has afforded me the opportunity to better understand exactly what I can change as a human being and how I can commence in that pursuit. All in all, I feel like one of the lucky ones. To be a double major and love both disciplines made for a very delightful four years. I am constantly witnessing how students at McDaniel thrive academically and personally, and it is primarily because they love what they do! Truly enjoying your work and the time spent inside the classroom is a huge aspect of being happy and successful outside of the classroom. I’m glad I was able to love what I do and find enjoyment in every course at McDaniel.

Took me totally by surprise: Ok. So, freshman year, what took me by surprise was the Green Terror mascot. I don’t know why, but that thing was a little too terrorizing. I was frightened. Sophomore year, when the mascot was revamped, I was relieved because I no longer had to be scared at football games. Tout the Tartan!!!

My favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot on campus would have to be the left side grass stairs when you exit the library. I don’t know why, I guess I just have fond memories there. I remember sitting in the lawn chairs for hours, I would even fall asleep. So relaxing.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: One of the most mind-boggling ideas I have learned at McDaniel was that if you give yourself the opportunity to change and try something different, even if it is uncomfortable, you will thank yourself later. Before coming to McDaniel College, I had a certain way of doing almost everything in my life, especially thinking. With that, I must admit to previously having quite a limited view of the world. Coming to The Hill has led me to believe that there is always room for reformation, improvement, and different interpretations.

Another mind-boggling idea I learned is that it is okay to take it easy once in a while. I accredit this idea to Sherriff Dewees and his words to me on the last day of his Criminal Justice class. He advised me to not be so hard on myself. Those words truly stuck with me, and still stick with me almost three years later. I thank Sherriff Dewees for his wise words that helped me get through that semester. So, I would like to pass this advice along to my fellow seniors and anyone willing to listen: You are a human being, don’t try to carry the world on your shoulders. Practice compassion towards yourself. Work hard, but don’t beat yourself up with imaginary parameters you think you should meet.

My capstones: 

  • Political Science – The United States’ Relationship with Climate Change
  • Global Fellows – Climate Change: The Mitigations and Effects Around the Globe
  • Philosophy – The Defeminization and Degradation of The African American Woman

What it’s about: For my Political Science capstone, I specifically focused on the literature and lack of substantial legislation for climate change alleviation in the Western world. My Global Fellows capstone echoes the same sentiments and tone as it adds a political element to the research on climate change while stressing the state of the global emergency. However, in my Global Fellows capstone I focus on countries in the East. My Philosophy capstone was also going to be environmentally centered, but I changed it early on to a race-based piece. As an African American, I believe it is imperative to start discussions surrounding race while considering historical context in order for all people to gain an understanding of certain narratives belonging to marginalized groups. In this thesis I emphasize the necessity to create space for these sorts of dialogues, incorporating philosophical concepts to support my thesis statement.

Capstone translated: Essentially, my capstones are about climate change and race ethics (not combined…different theses)

What’s next: I’m a huge proponent of going wherever God leads. I have taken the reigns of my destiny enough times to know that the outcome is never as good as what God has in store. So, we’ll see.

About Emem

Name: Emem Apkan

Major: Philosophy and Political Science with a specialization in American Politics and Law

Class of 2021