E’mari Zurko Richardson: Paving a Better Way for the Future

By Miranda Koewler

As a first generation college student, E’mari Zurko Richardson’s strength and independence has helped her successfully navigate her Ohio State experience. Read her story to see how she’s giving back and becoming a role model in her own right.

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E’mari: I’m studying sociology with a minor in global public health. I plan on being a neonatal nurse practitioner. I was recently accepted to a nursing program in Cleveland where I will study people, their environment and the neighborhood. This will be a post-baccalaureate program that will allow me to obtain two undergraduate degrees.

I am involved with the 41st African American Heritage Festival as Poetry Showcase Co-Chair. I was also involved with last year’s festival as Variety Show Co-Chair. I volunteer with Social Change at Beatty Elementary. Through the Young Scholars Program, I’m an ambassador and academic success coach. I mentor five underclassmen from low income families by keeping updated on their personal and academic lives. I was a mentee of this program myself when I first came to Ohio State. Lastly, I am a student manager in the Multicultural Center.

My three words would be motivated, ambitious and self-reliant. As a first generation college student, I have to embody all these words to navigate the unknowns of the college experience. Having to do so much on my own was difficult, but I’ve been able to do it with my motivation and ambition to achieve.

Being a first generation college students has put forth a lot of challenges. Overall, however, it has helped me grow academically and personally. I was forced to grow up quickly when I had to figure things out on my own, because my family did not have those experiences to share with me. It forced me to have more of a global look on things.

My little sister is 12 years old. I’ve been trying to show her that even though we come from a low income environment with little support as a whole, she can still live her dreams out. I want her to know she doesn’t have to let the barriers keep her from living out her dreams — just because society says you can’t do something doesn’t mean it’s true.

Without Ohio State and the Young Scholars Program, I wouldn’t have experienced all of the things the world has to offer outside my hometown. These past few years have shown me a more positive perspective on what the world has to offer. I’m truly grateful for this university.

Without the relationships I’ve made, I wouldn’t have the connections and emotional support I have on campus now. I’m very big on the networking — once I put myself out there and got involved, it made me wonder what more I could do. I have amazing mentors, even mentors who continue to look out for me even though they’re not at Ohio State anymore.

Be open-minded, because otherwise you’ll close yourself off and not get the fullest college experience possible. Networking, networking, networking is very important to help you get further. If you do not reach out and grab opportunities, they will not come to you. If you seek it and work for it, good things will come.

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Thanks, E’mari!

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