For Emma Goldberg, Change Means Opportunity at JWU

Emma Goldberg

When the best-laid plans went awry, Emma Goldberg ’21 found her calling. Goldberg comes from a family of scientists and loves science experiments involving flour and sugar. However, once entrenched in culinary labs, the aspiring pastry chef realized the she would rather play with food than adhere to recipes.

So Goldberg turned to another passion: a high school history teacher sparked her interest in women’s rights, and when she realized Baking & Pastry Arts was not for her, she readily returned to Political Science with fervor. “There is so much power in changing the world,” says Goldberg. “I want to make a difference and do policy work centered on legislation for women and education reform; I would love to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment.”

Although the switch might serve as a setback for some, Goldberg remains undaunted. “I don’t think any experience is a waste,” she says. “I bake the best apple pie ever now because of my start in Culinary.”

Education Saves the World

At JWU, Goldberg has launched a women's group called Women: Speak and Be Heard, has hosted a women's panel on campus, and remains active with her sorority. In the Direct Educational Experience component of a Political Science class, Goldberg and her classmates were tasked with finding solutions to challenges facing a neighboring city. Her group developed legislation around treatment plans for domestic violence perpetrators.

But Goldberg isn’t merely content with completing class assignments. While looking for classes to take, she noticed the women’s studies courses she was hoping to take weren't offered in the catalog. So she did some research. JWU is 60% female, and the honors program, of which she is a part, is 80% female. “There was only one class on women’s initiatives in politics,” Goldberg says. So instead of grumbling and complaining, she acted. After writing a research proposal, she asked for a meeting with Providence Campus President Marie Bernardo-Sousa ’92 — the second consecutive female campus President — and got it. After her presentation, Bernardo-Sousa agreed to create a gender studies minor, which officially goes into effect next fall.

Goldberg with Bernardo-Sousa and other campus leaders

“Emma is a bright and motivated student — the hands-on, problem-solving type of student that JWU is proud of,” says Bernardo-Sousa. “Her drive and passion have ignited her to take an active role as a student leader and this is just the start. We look forward to seeing the future she builds.”

Last year, Goldberg served as Vice President of Philanthropy for Panhellenic, where she worked on women’s education issues. It was through this platform that she was first introduced to university leadership, including President Bernardo-Sousa. “If you just talk to them and give them your ideas…they are so receptive,” Goldberg says. She tries to help fellow classmates raise their voices and be heard, too, knowing that their time in college is short and important. “Your college experience is what you make it,” she says. “If you have an idea or an initiative, if you go after it, you can do it.”

Goldberg with Jack Reed and fellow interns

Her achievements don’t end on campus; Goldberg applied to and was accepted into an internship program with Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed. As an intern for the Washington, D.C. office, she researched legislative issues, attended briefings and committee hearings on issues such as the Iran escalation, answered constituent inquiries, conducted tours of the Capitol and provided administrative, legislative, and press support to Senator Reed and his staff. Goldberg notes that it was very helpful to gain insight into what a 40-hour work week is like. “The internships taught me a lot of good lessons and was also the best experience I’ve ever had,” she says.

To further her career aspirations, the honors student applied for JWU’s 3+3 Law Program, which allows her to begin classes at the Roger Williams University Law program while completing her final year at Johnson & Wales. This fast-track enables Goldberg to earn both degrees in six years rather than seven. “The faculty helped to plan my credits so I could apply with the right credentials,” says Goldberg. “They were very supportive: JWU is a big school but it’s small enough that faculty can really advocate for your interests.”

Goldberg in DC

Now back on campus for the academic year, Goldberg remains as busy as ever, taking at least an hour out of every day to study for LSATs while juggling other coursework and extracurricular commitments. She also blocks out an hour each day to work out. Her planner is filled to the minute, but she doesn’t lament; being scheduled, she says, is the only way for her. While she is filled with excitement about the prospect of law school, she is not setting anything in stone. “I’m a planner but I’ve learned that every time I think I know who I am or what my plans are, I get a new experience and it changes completely,” she says. “I’m trying to wait until I go to law school and see who I turn into then.”