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Julianna Emanuel, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, is studying International Relations with minors in Hispanic Studies and Economic Policy. Originally from Thousand Oaks, California, her involvement at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute (RRPFI) began at a young age. In 2014 Emanuel was a student in the Ronald Reagan Student Leadership Program, and later returned in 2016 as an ambassador for the program where she was given the opportunity to lead and mentor her peers. She has volunteered in several RRPFI events including the very first Reagan Leadership Summit (then known as the Young Women’s Leadership Summit) -- for which she chaired the content committee -- and for the Reagan Institute Summit on Education in 2018, where she served as a volunteer lead. In 2017, she received a scholarship from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Scholars Program.
She was the captain of her Public Forum Debate Team during secondary school, La Reina High School, where she graduated from in 2017. Being a talented young woman, Emanuel has even managed to win speaker awards at various debate competitions. Her debate experiences elevated her passion for public speaking, and helped develop her devotion to the service of others. This active scholar-athlete plays on her university’s womens’ ice hockey team as their goalie, and is also the chair of the Lauder College House Meliora Ambassador Program -- a mentorship program, which allows upperclassmen to lead and guide freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been granted a research fellowship at her university known as University Scholars, which has enabled her to pursue research she is passionate about. Her research focuses on South Africa’s changing role on the international level, and what that means for international security and regional stability. She hopes to turn her findings into a senior thesis, and perhaps even have her work published in an academic journal.
In summer 2019 Emanuel participated in the Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) program where she won a partial scholarship and participated in the very first LTAP Student Debate. She also interned on the committee for economic development during her LTAP experience. Presently, Emanuel is studying abroad in Barcelona, as a Historical Memory Fellow, where she begins to consider the next steps in her education and career. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021, she will either attend graduate school or will work closely with international development and security issues.
How do you approach challenges?
I try to approach challenges with an open mind. I think that when you’re faced with something difficult it is important not to have any preconceived notions about the challenge, that way you don’t get caught up in the small details. I’m incredibly detail-oriented but you can’t lose sight of the big picture when you are approaching an obstacle. If you have an open mind, you’re more likely to see possible solutions and find many ways to overcome the challenge, so that if something goes wrong, you don’t stop, you find another way.
If you could say one word defines leadership what would it be?
I believe that leadership is service. A life that serves others is one that exhibits exceptional, though not always explicit, leadership. Part of leadership as service is the power of your example. You may not be the project lead, or the manager, but you can still be the first person at every meeting, ready to work. For me, leadership is using your own strengths to inspire and encourage those around you to do the same. This outward focus and forward trajectory of leadership is what makes the world a better place.
If you had the opportunity to spread a message to a large group of people, what would it say?
I would encourage people to be surrounded by a variety of opinions. When you’re surrounded by different people, and ideas, you don’t see things at face-value, you can dig deeper and see the blurred lines between black and white because there are multiple perspectives to everything. There’s something beautiful in a conversation (not an argument) between people with different ideas because at their core is passion. Passion is what drives change in the world. Any number of things can spark it, but passion is what pushes it forward. Someone told me that passion is the human soul on fire. So, it is so important that you find something you’re passionate about and then share that passion with others, especially people with different interests in order to expand your understanding and impact in the world.
When was the last time you tried something new?
I walked on to my University’s ice hockey team last year having never held a hockey stick in my life. That was a big step for me, switching from swimming laps to getting hit with flying pucks on the ice! I also started eating fish in college, which was a really big deal because I was convinced I hated fish for the first nineteen years of my life.