Senior Snapshot: Emely Larios Is Ready for the Next Adventure

Emely Larios ’21
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For Emely Larios ’21, her Wellesley experience has been marked by natural disasters in her home state of Texas.

As a first-year, she missed orientation and got to campus the day before classes started because Hurricane Harvey blew through her hometown of Houston, flooding the area and making it impossible for her to leave on time.

At the start of term three of her senior year—already a year of disruption because of the pandemic—a snowstorm hit Texas. Larios’ home lost electricity and heat just as she needed to start attending classes remotely again. She was prepared in another way, though: She had two pairs of fuzzy socks and a fuzzy sweater to help keep her warm, and snow boots—all things she had bought for living in the Northeast. “I had a leg up,” she said. “A lot of people didn’t have anything.”

She found the beginning of the term stressful. “When you miss the first day, you miss a lot,” she said. But she knew the professors for both of her courses, and they understood the situation. She spent a bit of time catching up, particularly with a fast-moving term system, but she said she didn’t feel her grades were affected by the weather-related stumble into the third term.

Larios is an East Asian languages and cultures major. Her interest in the field began when she and a friend wanted to take a class together, and they agreed on a Korean language course. She said the lecturer, Seok Bae Jang, who has since left Wellesley, was amazing. “He made me fall in love with the culture,” she said. She was inspired to keep taking courses in the department and eventually chose to major in it.

Larios joined the Korean Student Association and planned to study abroad in South Korea; she was there for only a week before being sent back to the U.S. because of COVID-19. She gives credit to the faculty in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures for helping her a great deal as she worked on her degree. Jaehee Ju Park, a visiting lecturer, was especially encouraging. “I showed up every office hour she had, because I was just struggling,” Larios said. Park gave her children’s books to read to help with language acquisition, and they became friendly enough that she invited Larios to her home for Chuseok, a Korean harvest festival similar to America’s Thanksgiving.

Larios spent her senior year in Texas and said her remote experience has been fine, though she has missed the convenience of living on campus, being close to her friends, and going to dining halls for meals—all the perks of a residential campus. She plans to celebrate her graduation remotely and will tune in to the livestream from home, but she said she’s never been very interested in the pomp and circumstance around commencement.

Larios is now looking to her next step after Wellesley: a one-year research position with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she’ll also be able to take classes. “It’s only a year, you know, so it’s no big commitment in my life,” she said. “I think that’s what I want now, just small commitments to keep exploring to see what I like. I can do whatever I want! But I don’t know what I want to do, so let’s go find out.”

Her advice for incoming students: Make sure to include something fun and relaxing in your daily schedule. Plan “an hour nap or a small walk around campus. Whatever it is, make sure you remove yourself from academics and stress for a little bit. It will make your time at Wellesley a lot happier.”