For our back-to-school issue, we asked student leaders on Emory University’s Atlanta and Oxford campuses to share a piece of advice with the incoming Class of 2026. From SGA presidents to a student coordinator for freshman orientation, here’s what these leaders said they wished someone had told them during their first days on campus.
Noah Marchuck (24C), Emory SGA president
“Welcome to Emory, Class of 2026! It’s going to be an incredible time these four years. Make sure that while you’re here you take some time for yourself to explore yourself and enjoy being in a new area. And make sure to take classes you enjoy outside of your majors, too. Those are just as important!”
Andrew Yang (23Ox), Oxford SGA President
“Expand your horizon. Engage with the community. Explore studies you never imagined yourself doing. Talk with peers from backgrounds you have not experienced yet.
Try spontaneous things that you, only as a college student, can do. Make Emory your playground. After all, that’s what liberal arts education is all about.”
Ria Puri (23B), Student Programming Council President
“Welcome to Emory! This has been an amazing four-year journey for me, and I am so thankful for my time so far at Emory. My best advice to share is that college is really what you put into it; meet new people, take interesting classes, and make sure you’re always prioritizing your mental health. Although four years feels like a long time, it’ll fly by in no time!”
Antara Palkar (21Ox, 23C), Orientation Student Coordinator
“Welcome to Emory! Literally all of us are so glad you’re here. That’s one of the best things about Emory is that within the classes and between classes, there is so much love and support from one student to another. There’s so much of that peer compassion, that peer bonding, that peer leadership. It’s a great place to be, and we’re literally so excited to have the class of 2026.
One thing for first-years to know … is that it’s O.K. if the first couple people you meet aren’t your best friend, so it’s totally O.K. if your roommate isn’t your best friend and the people in your OL group aren’t your best friends. And, if they are, that’s great, but if they aren’t don’t worry about it because Emory is such a cool and diverse place and so many people you can meet and have fun. We’re so excited you’re here!”
Elise Etrheim (23C), Volunteer Emory Director
“Emory has a wealth of organizations that host off-campus volunteer trips and allow you to engage in your social justice passion. You’ll find them lining Asbury Circle on Wonderful Wednesdays, at fairs, and during Volunteer Emory’s Service Fair (09/16, 11-1, Asbury Circle). I implore you to pick the brains of these organizations’ leaders and scour the offerings on The Hub until you find an opportunity that excites you. We at Volunteer Emory (@volunteeremory) would especially love to have you! Invite a new friend or attend alone (you’ll make friends there!) and find joy in the knowledge that you are making a small impact on the new city you call home, Atlanta.”
Grace Johnson (21Ox, 23C), Emory Emergency Medical Services Chief
“I wish I had know earlier that this community has so many resources and people who truly will do anything to support you. Whether you just need advice on your schedule from advising or you are calling 911, there are so many teams of compassionate people ready to jump in.”
Zaria Herriman (23Ox), Student Activity Committee
“Hello everyone and welcome to your first year at Emory!! Emory has so many campus organizations and classes that foster our community of belonging and inclusion. I encourage you to join organizations you’re interested in to share passions, cultural practices, and fun activities with your peers. Always prioritize yourself and practice self-care when needed in whatever way is best for you- whether that is working out, journaling, napping, going out for a walk, or just relaxing. Try not to stress too much this year and enjoy your first memories in college!”
Brammhi Balarajan (23C), Editor-in-Chief of The Emory Wheel
“Welcome to Emory! These next four years will be some of the most transformative and challenging years of your life. Even if it takes time for things to fall into place, you will find your place here. As you go through these next four years, do things that challenge you or push you out of your comfort zone. That could mean joining a dance team, taking a class that terrifies you, or continuing on even when things are hard.”