Emily Dickinson - Washington Nomination by Brian Dickinson Photography by Keli Jones (above) & Brian Dickinson (below) Issue 52 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: At age 15, Emily Dickinson was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and epilepsy. Despite the setback the diagnosis insinuated she started college her junior year of high school, became a writer and copy editor for the college newspaper, wrote a devotional on the YouVersion app, was published in a Brio Magazine, and launched a blog to help inspire others. Emily has become a leader in youth ministry, ran a virtual Bible study, and edited multiple books and devotionals. Emily was faced with a major challenge, but through her unwavering faith and positive attitude she continues to inspire by her actions.
Photography by Greg Heller
What would you most like to be interviewed about? I would like to be interviewed about my writing and how I express myself through it. Questions such as why I write, what I view my purpose to be, and why I put myself and my thoughts out there at such a young age.
Is writing a career choice for you and if so, what are your plans? Writing is a career choice for me and I plan to get my Bachelor’s degree in English and later get my Master’s degree. I’m not sure where my writing will take me and if I will continue journalistically or with my Christian blog, but I do know that wherever life takes me, I will still be writing.
How did you get started in writing and what is your favorite thing to write about? I’ve been writing stories since I could write. However, I feel like my writing really took off or became my passion in the 8th grade. My English teacher was the first person to really take my writing seriously and I never looked back. I love writing historical fiction or fiction for fun and helpful personal growth blogs or articles to encourage others.
What are your duties as the copy editor for the college newspaper and how did you get the job? I interviewed for the copy editor position through a normal interview and a skills interview where I had to copy edit an article in order for my boss to approve my work. My job is to read over everyone’s articles and use the AP style guide to edit for grammar, word choice, and other editing errors that come about.
What is your favorite piece you've written? Tell us about it. I don’t really have a favorite piece because I believe every writing I have written is too different to compare it to another. However, I would say one of my favorite poems that I have recently written is called “Paperless Poems.” It’s a poem about how poems or writings are timeless and can never be forgotten. If the poems are so-called paperless, then they are “written in stone” and stone “remain(s) forever in time.”
Tell us about some of your adventures. I went to six of the seven continents by age 13 and I climbed Mount Kosciuszko at age 10 (the highest peak in Australia). This was because my dad climbed the seven summits including Mount Everest and my family got to tag along on some of his adventures.
List each continent you traveled to and what surprised you most about it. I’ve been to South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and I live in North America. The only continent I haven’t been to is Antarctica. I got to serve in South America and Africa, giving out supplies and teaching the people alongside a group. I was most surprised at how joyful the locals were despite their circumstances. That has influenced me to bring joy into any situation, because if people who don’t have necessities such as food and water can be happy, then I can find joy in my circumstances as well.
What continent have you not been to and when do you plan on going there? I haven’t been to Antarctica and I don’t have any immediate plans to. My dad climbed Antarctica's highest peak and said it was like visiting another planet so it would be amazing to experience if I ever have the opportunity.
What was the hardest thing about your climb on Mount Kosciuszko and what was the easiest? The hardest part was the wind because I was a young child in a big puffy coat and my parents had to hold onto my brother and me because we kept getting knocked down by the wind. The easiest part was the climb itself. Although Mount Kosciuszko is the highest peak in Australia, it’s still practically an upward 5-mile walk compared to other mountains in Washington state.
What is a favorite memory from your travels? My favorite memory was in Europe. I was in a grocery store in London and a sweet old lady came up to me and offered to buy me a bread item I was looking at. I kindly refused the offer but the act of kindness I witnessed in another country took me by surprise.
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? I snowboard, play soccer, participate in the swim team, and mountaineer with my dad and brother. I have visited orphanages and gone on mission trips which has given me a wide knowledge of diversity. I specifically went to Swaziland when I was 11 and experienced first hand how lucky I am to have the simplest necessities such as food and water. That trip, a dying boy, and a group of the happiest girls changed me forever.
What do you love most about the sports you do? For soccer and mountaineering I love being able to do them with my dad. The time we get to spend together when he coaches my soccer team or leads my brother and myself up a mountain makes the hard work worth it. As for snowboarding and swimming, they are like flying to me. I can fly through the water or fly down a mountain on my snowboard and I can just focus on the feeling of absolute freedom.
Photography by Brian Dickinson - Mount Kosciuszko
Tell us about your mission trips. How did you get involved, what do you do there, and where do you plan on going next? I was able to go on mission trips through my Church. I went to Yakima, Washington in middle school and helped sort through food. I went to Swaziland, Africa and helped out at a Church there. I taught some of the children different games we play in America and I made some wonderful friends despite the language barrier. I also went to Argentina, South America and gave toys to the children in an orphanage. I don’t know where I will go next but I hope to someday return to Swaziland.
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be and why? Faith is one of the biggest parts of my life. I am a Christian so I would probably want to share Christ. However, I would take a simpler approach and talk about love. I want to share the love God has given me and explain to others that they can find love, joy, peace and contentment right where they are. That comes from learning to love yourself and also recognizing what your potential is. One of the saddest things to me is watching people hate themselves and waste their potential to improve the world in the way they were intended.
What do you feel is your best leadership skill you've mastered in helping lead the youth ministry? I’ve gained more confidence. I used to always ask my youth pastor, “why don’t I have God-like confidence?” The problem for me was finding the middle ground where I wasn’t prideful, but I was confident in who God created me to be. Leadership has unlocked that quality because when you lead others, it’s important to root yourself and know who you are first. Once I was able to find confidence in who God created me to be, I was able to lead others to do the same.
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? The hardest thing I have accomplished is overcoming my epilepsy diagnosis and the setbacks that came with it. At first, it was really hard to overcome it. I was angry and didn’t understand why it had to be my battle. But then I recognized it as a blessing. It opened the door to conversations and provided me with more empathy. I was able to turn a hard thing into something beneficial and I was able to write about it so that I could make an awareness of it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Take every opportunity you can. If you want to get somewhere, you have to be willing to put in the work and know that failure will come before success.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I think the reason I could be considered inspiring is because I don’t give up. A lot of difficult things have happened in my life, but they have sculpted me into becoming perseverent. I don’t know how much time I have on this Earth so I have a drive to do what I can right now. I got the drive after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and epilepsy. I don’t know what else will happen, but I’m not going to waste any more time being afraid of failure because I have a drive to live and a purpose to fulfill.
Look for Emily in issue 52 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!