Doing The Right Thing
Meet Emma Fatzaun, a driven high school senior with a 4.0 GPA, at James B. Hunt High School in Wilson, North Carolina. She devotes her time to her community and is involved in more student organizations than can exhaustively be listed.
Emma is an AP scholar, member of the National Honor Society and has the highest average in geometry honors, English honors, physical science honors, Spanish, chemistry and pre-calculous in her school. She’s participated in several mission trips, worked for years for the Special Olympics and has volunteered for local fire departments. She has cooked and served dinners to her fellow church members and was an active member of her school’s recycling team. Emma is the 2019 ESA Youth Scholarship Winner. After this most recent achievement, she is headed to Harvard in the Fall, where she will major in biochemistry and plans to obtain her MD.
So, how does she juggle it all? A fiery passion, confidence and an instilled mission to do the right thing.
“[My father] taught me an acronym for life that he lives by: Do The Right Thing (DTRT). Inside his fire helmet, he keeps only two things — a picture of my family and the letters DTRT. It symbolizes what he values most in life,” she says.
“No matter what, when everyone is watching or no one is watching, when it’s a big deal or it’s a small matter, when it costs everything or it costs nothing — always do the right thing.”
It can be a driver to have a personal mission statement — a means to prioritize the day-to-day distractions. It’s a link to her deepest values and goals instilled when she was very young by a very special person.
Emma’s father, Captain and Lead Engineer Fireman John Fatzaun, serves his family and protects their community. She looks up to her father and recalls proudly walking around the school in a red fireman’s helmet, telling her classmates about her father’s heroic efforts as a child.
“Growing up as a firefighter’s daughter, I was taught many things about the critical importance of safety. Although useful, my dad taught me something even greater that applies to my life forever — the importance of service, leadership, hard work, and, most of all, character,” she says. “My dad embodies how a person should act in times of stress — how to respond in times of hardship. How one should persevere through life’s victories and defeats.”
Her father’s hard work and gut instinct to run toward danger to help others, while all others run away — that can be seen in Emma’s drive.
“He’s shown me that when I find something I am passionate about, I must pursue it with everything I have.”
Pursuing biochemistry and advancing the medical field through research is no little feat.
“Women are underrepresented in the STEM field. The medical field needs the presence of women,” Emma says. “Although I may not be able to carry an air pack and or throw a ladder, I hope with what my dad has taught me I can succeed in my field and contribute back to my community.”
Emma believes she will pave the way for other women to pursue careers in the STEM field. She is excited to pursue her passion for science and to do the right thing.
“His hard work has inspired me to fight my own fires. Being far from home in Boston this fall will be overwhelming at first,” she says. “I say ‘ya’ll’… not ‘wicked.’ I’m accustomed to a small town, not a big city. But his support, his guidance have made me strong enough to run into my own blazing fires. Because of my father, I am not fearful. I am hungry to take this challenge on with all of my heart.”
Learn more about ESA’s Youth Scholarship Program.