She Had Love at First Sight for Emporia State
A memory from sixth grade had a lot to do with Eden Tullis's college choice.
When it came time for the co-valedictorian at Oswego High School to decide what school she would attend for her undergraduate degree she kept thinking about a trip she made as a sixth-grader to the annual William Allen White book award ceremony at Emporia State. She could not seem to shake that memory.
"That trip stayed in my mind for a reason," Tullis says, "and I wasn't going to ignore that. So I did some exploration, visited, and fell in love."
Tullis met Emporia State Professor Kevin Rabas of the English Department. He teaches creative writing and has published award-winning books, stories, poems, and plays. She enjoyed getting to know Rabas and how inviting the school was.
Tullis found the small class size and compact, easy to navigate campus appealing. Yet she found that small does not in this case mean wanting. She found that opportunities abound at Emporia State and the relationships she built were huge.
"Looking back now, my experience at Emporia State could not have been more fulfilling," she says. "I was so active in everything I possibly could be that I truly soaked up my years here."
It was pointed out in an award nomination letter that Tullis had "stepped out of her comfort zone so she could learn and grow as a person and along the journey made the time to mentor others. Eden has worked to her limit and then extended herself even more in order to earn her excellent grades, to go beyond the classroom to broaden her knowledge, to mentor others, to involve herself in campus life, to volunteer her time and work in order to financially support her education."
"I’m so proud to say that being a Hornet made me that way," says Tullis.
An English major with minors in journalism and leadership, Tullis was Union Activities President, worked in the TRIO office as a student assistant, was involved with Project Challenge, was an Ambassador for the school, and logged a tremendous amount of volunteer hours with several organizations. She balanced all of this well enough to be named a Black and Gold Scholar, be inducted into the Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society, and earn the Dwight and Ida Curry Newberg Outstanding Senior award.
With a little help from her friends, of course.
"The most surprising but favorable part about my time here has been the relationships I have built with the professionals of Emporia State," says Tullis. "I knew I would come to college finding friends, but I never knew that the people who worked here could be some of those friends. They have been my biggest support system in anything I have tried to tackle and they have genuinely cared about my success. I don’t think you can get that at many other schools."
Tullis believes Emporia State helped provide her something else vital to her growth that other schools might not. The summer after her freshman year she traveled with the leadership program to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. It was three and half weeks of culture shock.
"My trip shook my whole world up,” she says. "Not only was it my first time to fly, but it was also my first time to see the ocean. Our group experienced school systems there and we were able to teach high school students of Estonia and Lithuania about American Democracy.
"We even went to the Auschwitz concentration camp," she adds, describing the experience as extremely emotional and raw. "Being in areas that were highly affected by WWII taught me things that I could not have learned from a book or class."
Now that Tullis has graduated and been accepted into the graduate Student Affairs program at Seattle University, she reflected back to her decision-making process and made a suggestion to current high school students following in her footsteps. She offers experience one cannot get in a book or class, suggesting students try to imagine themselves at a place.
"If you can’t do that," she says, "then the school isn’t the right place for you. My biggest piece of advice is making sure you’ve done your homework about all the schools you’ve applied to. This means doing some independent research. Just because a school has the program you’re going into, doesn’t mean it’s a good program.
"The thing I would say to students who are considering Emporia State is that it’s not just an education school," adds Tullis. "The Teacher’s College of Emporia State does have a wonderful reputation and deserves all its recognition, but there are so many creditable degrees there that just aren’t as well-known. If you want a fulfilling education where you aren’t just a number to professors, go to Emporia State. Emporia is a welcoming city and it’s a fun place to be."