Emily Travis is the Academic Achievement Award Recipient for the Traditional Program

Adopted, with Native American roots, Emily Travis was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at one year of age.  As a spokesperson for the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Emily travels internationally, educating and advocating on behalf this 100 percent preventable pandemic.  Her travels and advocacy have included speaking to 33 countries and the president of the World Health Organization at the 5th International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, filming a PSA in front of the White House and recently being selected to serve as an Expert Panel Member for SAMHSA’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Center for Excellence.  Currently, she is conducting university-funded research through the Canada FASD Research Center.  Emily is a founding member of Self-Advocates with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Action (SAFA) Network.

Emily presently holds two titles, Princess Flame and Miss Marion Main Street.  She also held the title of Miss Southern Illinois 2012, Miss Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative 2012 and was Miss Williamson 2011 placing in the top ten at Miss Illinois.  She was named Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen in 2008 where she garnered the overall talent award with a classical piano piece.  She was also the second runner-up to the Illinois State Fair Queen in 2011 as Miss Williamson County Fair Queen.  In 2009, Emily had the opportunity to open the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, and it was also in this year she worked as a model for a QVC makeup line, Be Your Best Friend, inspiring genuine personality—true beauty.

As a senior at Mid-Continent University earning a 4.0 GPA and academic scholarship, Emily is majoring in psychology and minoring in Christian ministries.  She volunteers her time at Hope Unlimited, a pregnancy crisis center, as a counselor for the Hispanic clients.  She plans to obtain a post-doctoral certification in neuropsychology, using her degree to research the very thing with which she has been diagnosed.  Growing up on a farm, Emily is in love with all things outdoors, including horseback riding, and is passionate about organics.  Every year she travels to Monterrey, Mexico where the kids of La Isla steal her heart.  In her spare time she enjoys playing the Native American flute.  She has one daughter, a Yorkshire terrier named, Willow. 

Why I chose Mid-Continent University:

My life may be short, but it does not lack grace.  I may be young, but my story does not lack mercy.  I was a baby with empty eyes but a full spirit—a thriving future.  I was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, but God said, “I have something bigger for you”.  From the concrete jungle of East St. Louis to the grassy fields of Travis Brothers’ Farm I transitioned.  I have struggled, but my invisible disability has taught me lessons I may not learned any other way.  When questions of ‘why’ arise, God says, “I am bigger than your disability and I have something bigger for you”. 

Without Him, my life would have been purposeless, dark, empty; but because of Him, I have direction, and I have been rescued from the world from which I wish to witness God’s glory release others such as myself.  Many scriptures could be quoted commanding us to be “trained” in the word instead of being transformed by the world; however, I cannot be simpler than this:  I choose Christian education because I know that is the very path God desires me to take.  This path, this direction, I believe, is that ‘something bigger’ He has had for me all along. 

Being adopted, there is a life that I could have had, and a life that I now lead.  The life that I could have had may not be a painting of a beautiful sunset, but reality would have been its painter that dipped into the colors of bad mistakes.  My birth mother searched to fill a void with only things of the temporary.  Addicted to alcohol and cocaine at birth has created problems that others may not understand, but it is through my weakness Christ’s strength is perfected, and His glory is on display.

“Leave it behind, and come with me,” these are the words spoken so gently and kind.  The world from which was rescued was powered by hurt, and it is this hurt that inspires me to pursue an education that can pull others out of this evil vortex.  Psychology can create astonishing transformations in lives of other, but how substantial is that difference without a foundation; without the foundation?  Not only do I wish to see a change in cognition, it is imperative to see a conversion concerning spiritual well-being.  My mind is planted deeply in the field of psychology, and so is my heart and soul, and more importantly, God’s hand is guiding this journey.

As a Christian, as someone in a relationship with the Creator of the universe and Savior of the world, it is my privilege, my joy,  to bring glory to God—everyone’s greater purpose.  Attending a Christian university and obtaining an education underscored with the principles of truth can only open the doors of prevailing opportunity and allow His glory to magnificently cut through the darkness.  Education is powerful, but the training offered at Mid-Continent University is empowering.  I only wish to grow closer to the Lord through the education that can provide the indispensable skills so that I can witness others do the same.