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A number of Honors

Honors student and language scholar Emily Brown notes her favorite Honors experiences in four languages.

Honors student and language scholar Emily Brown notes her favorite Honors experiences in four languages.

Five languages, four years, three minors, and two majors? That makes one exceptional Emily Brown.

Brown, a senior German and Spanish double major, began her foray into foreign languages in middle school. “I began taking Spanish because I thought it would be a good idea to learn another language,” she said. “I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I had an amazing Spanish teacher whose enthusiasm for the language was contagious.”

Brown decided to study French and German in high school. Her unique talents and abilities earned her multiple awards and international recognition. At 18, she was accepted into the U.S. State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program. In the summer before she attended Illinois State, Brown traveled to Jordan where she studied Arabic for six weeks. Brown was also named a “star” candidate as part of the DAAD scholarship program, and participated at the highest level in the International German Language Olympics in Germany.

Illinois State took notice of Brown’s impressive achievements and awarded her the prestigious Presidential Scholarship. Brown said the scholarship was the deciding factor in her decision to attend Illinois State. “The Presidential Scholarship has allowed me to save money, and by living at home and working, I hope to be able to graduate with savings rather than debt,” Brown said.

Going into her senior year, Brown has a unique combination of majors and minors, which wasn’t entirely intentional on her part. Ultimately, she declared a double major in German and Spanish, and minors in French, Political Science, and East Asian Studies. “My top priority has always been to follow my passion and study what genuinely interests me,” Brown said.

Her passion for German led her to study abroad in Bonn, Germany, for a spring semester. Brown describes her experience in Germany with one word: “Discovery.” She learned more about the language, of course, and found out more about the countries and cultures she visited, but perhaps even more important were the things Brown discovered about herself. “The semester really gave me the opportunity to be independent,” she said. “I realized I love traveling alone, and the freedom of being able to explore different cities and countries on my own.”

Brown traveled to six other European countries while abroad: “Whether it was practicing French in Paris, struggling to navigate Palermo’s chaotic transportation system, or marveling at the sheer natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands, each trip made a unique impression on me.”

Brown went on to say, “I am grateful for the opportunities the Honors Program has given me to work closely with professors on interesting and rewarding projects in my field.” Currently, she is working with Professor Andrew Weeks in Languages, Literatures, and Cultures on a critical edition of Jacob Böhme’s 1619 work, Beschreibung der Drey Principien Göttliches Wesens. Brown has transcribed nearly 500 pages of the 1730 edition, comparing it to three different handwritten manuscripts she also helped to decipher and analyze. The project is entering its final stages, and they are now preparing to send the manuscript to the publisher.

So where does Brown go from here? Not surprisingly, the star student is currently exploring graduate school options where she will continue to study languages. In the future, Brown would like to become a translator as she has found she most enjoys working with the written language. She said no matter what, she wants to be able to work with multiple languages, “analyzing their intricacies and unique forms of expression.”

There is no doubt that wherever Emily Brown’s path leads her next, she will continue to be one exceptional scholar.


What a remarkable young woman. Way to make ISU proud, Emily!!