Outstanding family and consumer sciences grad found her passion for working with older adults

Emma Atchison standing on a road in New Zealand
Emma Atchison studying abroad in New Zealand.

Emma Atchison with 4-legged CAM the RamFor family and consumer sciences outstanding grad Emma Atchison, coming to Colorado State University was a family affair. Atchison grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and CSU has been a part of her family for many generations. Her grandparents, uncle, father, brother, and others all attended CSU, but that wasn’t the only thing attracting her to campus.

“Beyond family history, I fell in love with the city of Fort Collins, the friendliness of the community, and the variety of ways to get involved both on and off campus,” she said.

Atchison discovered family and consumer sciences through the help of Dawn Mallette, associate professor in CSU’s School of Education. “My academic adviser, Dawn Mallette, played a major role in my success at CSU. She introduced me to the family and consumer sciences major when I was uncertain and undeclared. She gave me the opportunity to create my own college experience and dive deeper into the many interests I have. She has been a major source of support and I am so thankful for her,” said Atchison.

Volunteering with older adults

Emma Atchison in work uniformWhile a student at CSU, Atchison was involved with volunteering and interning at the Fort Collins Senior Center which led to her passion for working with the older adult population. Her current internship is with a company called Preserving with Purpose, which has the mission of capturing and preserving older adult generations’ stories to pass down to younger generations.

“I believe older adults have wisdom and life experience to share,” she said, “and I hope to continue to serve as a listening ear to them.”

Atchison has also been involved with faith-based organizations – the Navigators on campus and Mill City Church. “These groups are where I discovered a loving community who supported me throughout my time at CSU,” Atchison said.

Study abroad in New Zealand

Emma Atchison with the ocean behind her
Emma Atchison in New Zealand.

Atchison had a unique experience with the COVID-19 pandemic. When it hit in March 2020, she was studying abroad in New Zealand but was able to stay in the country. “New Zealand was always on my travel bucket list, but I never would’ve guessed I would spend an entire semester on the other side of the world,” she said. “I grew in my confidence, my independence, and my sense of adventure.”

Atchison had some challenges to overcome during her time at CSU, including missing her family freshman year and a difficult transition back to campus from New Zealand for the fall of her senior year amid the pandemic. While she has mixed feelings about the many hours she spent on schoolwork at the expense of other activities, Atchison is also proud of her 3.9 GPA, graduating with distinction, and the hard work she put in to achieve her academic standing.

Although she has struggled with perfectionism, particularly with academic performance, she is working on worrying less and being present more in each moment. “The relationships I built over my time at CSU are what I treasure most,” she said. “The memories I will look back on will not be the exams I studied for, but the adventures I took with friends and family.”

After graduation, Atchison is looking forward to continuing her work with Preserving with Purpose, capturing stories from the past of the older adult population and sharing them.

While finishing her senior year amid the disconnection caused by COVID-19 has caused some disappointment, Atchison is proud of the obstacles she has overcome and grateful for her experiences.

“I am thankful for the many memories I created and the knowledge I gained during my time as a CSU Ram.”

The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.