When almost 2,000 undergraduate seniors participate in Commencement on the National Mall Sunday they will leave behind their years at GW, but many will not be forgotten. The Hatchet spoke with faculty, staff and students to find 10 seniors who have made a lasting impression during their undergraduate years.
When Emily Robertson enrolled in GW at age 16, she wanted to continue studying music on the side. The Springfield, Va., resident had no intention of majoring in the subject, but four years later, Robertson is graduating with honors as an Enosinian Scholar from the music department.
Robertson – who commutes 45 minutes from her Virginia home – was born in Oakland, Calif., but has lived in several other states because her father works for the U.S. military. She received her high school education from her parents, who home-schooled her.
At first, Robertson said she felt “kind of awkward” about dealing with her young age, but said that once people find out she’s only 20, they usually don’t care.
“Everything I do, I’m always the youngest person ever,” she said.
But Robertson isn’t exaggerating. At age 18, she won an Irving Lowens award for her research on a piece of music found in the binding of a 10th century medical book in a National Institute of Health library. Robertson said she was the youngest recipient of this high honor from the Society of American Music.
“I’m like the world expert on it,” Robertson said about her research, which she expanded upon in her Enosinian thesis at GW. Robertson said there are still many scholarly paths to follow, which she may do as she pursues her master’s in musicology at the University of Maryland next year.
Outside of the classroom, Robertson has an apprenticeship with Wolf Instruments, a store owned by an elderly couple that handmake their instruments.
Robertson said her nimble hands have been especially helpful as the Wolfs age. “One of my big fears is getting hand injuries,” she said.
Also a volunteer emergency medical technician for Springfield fire station 22, Robertson is well aware of the effects of injuries. “My legs could be chopped off; I don’t care,” she said. “My life is in my hands.”
This article appeared in the May 12, 2008 issue of the Hatchet.