Emily Ding ’21 M.A. ’22

Graduate Student

Words: Liuan Chen Huska ’09
Photos: Tony Hughes

512x768 winter 2022 profile

Amidst the sounds and smells of Anderson Commons, good conversations are always happening. One of these took place when Emily Ding invited Dr. Yousaf Sadiq, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology, to share a meal. Emily, now in the accelerated master’s program in TESOL, connected with Dr. Sadiq over shared experiences as Christian minorities in Malaysia, Emily’s parents’ home country, and Pakistan, Dr. Sadiq’s home country. They talked about how unlikely it was that they both ended up at Wheaton, an institution virtually unknown in their home spheres.

As an international student and person of color, Emily hasn’t always felt supported. But the conversation with Dr. Sadiq validated her experiences. “It was one of the most life-giving conversations I’ve had at Wheaton,” Emily said.

Emily sees her major in anthropology as a part of her outworking of Christian calling. “Anthro teaches you to learn about people on their own terms,” she said. “How else can we learn to love our neighbor well if we don’t try to understand them first?”

As a sophomore, Emily received one of five research fellowships from the American Anthropological Association (AAA). She studied how anthropology prepares students for careers and presented her findings at an annual AAA meeting and to Wheaton’s Center for Vocation and Career. Her findings led to several changes within the CVC—such as adjusting their staff dress code and approach to career coaching—that enabled them to better serve anthropology majors.

Recently, Emily participated in the Human Needs and Global Research program where she applied her anthropology undergrad and TESOL graduate studies at a church-based ministry in Singapore for migrant children excluded from public education. “They can’t enroll in school because they don’t speak English, and being migrants, they fall through the regular social safety nets for Singaporeans.” With her host organization, Emily advocated for these children to achieve entry into local schools and gain a sense of stability.

“Emily is a highly motivated, extremely brilliant, collaborative, and respectful person,” said Dr. Sadiq. “She brings an in-depth understanding of diversity and culture to the Wheaton community.”