Emily Whitten ’14, the 2018 recipient of the Charles River School’s Young Alumni Award, is a passionate voice for social justice – whether galvanizing her friends to make holiday cards for incarcerated minors, ensuring that local elementary school libraries have books that represent diversity, or attending rallies and demonstrations in Boston. There is no doubt that her interest in social justice is rooted in the 7/8 curriculum and in her involvement with the CRS Model UN program. She took to heart what she learned at CRS, and has continued to strive to consider others' perspectives and to take action where she can.
For two years, Emily served on MA State Senator Karen Spilka’s youth council, providing her with the opportunity to weigh in on pending legislation at the State House, observe lawmakers in session, and help strategize ways to increase the involvement of youth in the government. She was also selected as one of the Massachusetts representatives at the World Affairs Seminar held at Carroll University, an annual program that brings together students from around the world for a week-long intensive seminar on education and social justice issues.
In high school, Emily was an active member of the National Honors Society and committed many hours to community service. For the past four years, she has spent several weeks each summer volunteering for a summer academic enrichment program for elementary children. She was a founding member of the Natick High School Peer Advocates, a group created to encourage conversations about diversity and inclusion within the Natick High School. Through this group she was trained by “Facing History and Ourselves” to moderate difficult discussions; subsequently, she helped plan an evening of speakers last April called "Brave Conversations," where she led a breakout session.
As a member of the NHS Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Emily presented to local educators about discussing LGBTQ topics in the classroom with middle-school aged students. Emily is also a founding member (and one of only two students) of the Natick Freedom Team, an organization comprised of government officials, clergy, and public safety officers dedicated to fostering unity within the community. One of their first initiatives has been to establish a hotline, monitored by the Natick Police, to report biased-motivated threats, violence, and harassment. In addition to her academic demands, Emily has worked at the Natick afterschool program for years.
Emily believes strongly in giving back to CRS and has actively volunteered at the school since she graduated – as an assistant field hockey coach, an Open House tour guide, speaking on admissions panels, and preparing mailings. She has returned to work with the CRS GSA to discuss developing resources for CRS families to learn about LGBTQ+ topics, and presented to Spanish classes about her travel in Costa Rica.
This June, Emily graduated from Natick High School and was the recipient of four different awards and scholarships: Global Citizenship Achievement Award; Virginia Tartakoff Social Studies Award; Katie von der Leith Spirit Scholarship; Johnson Elementary School Scholarship. She will join the class of 2022 at Bryn Mawr college in Pennsylvania this fall. We congratulate Emily on her extraordinary achievements and on receiving the 2018 CRS Young Alumni Award!