Emily Banzer '15 just wrapped up her fourth and final year on the Hamilton College women's cross country team. The anthropology and French dual major made the 2014 NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team and the 2014 NESCAC Fall All-Sportsmanship Team. Emily posted the fastest 6-kilometer time of her Hamilton career in her final race at the 2014 NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional Championship where she helped the Continentals finish 13th out of 40 teams.

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about where you grew up?
A. I grew up in Brockport, New York, which has a population close to 10,000 and is about 25 minutes west of Rochester. For me, Brockport was the perfect place growing up. There was a great community feel and plenty of things for an active and nerdy kid to do day to day. Biking on the Erie Canal path, goofing off at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester and going to the library were some of my favorite things to do as a kid.

Q. How did you become interested in cross country?
A. My freshman year of high school I randomly decided to do outdoor track instead of softball in the spring. I had an OK first season as a runner but more importantly, I loved the team and really wanted to continue improving. Everything about running had me hooked on the sport. During that summer, I trained with members of the cross country team and really fell in love with running. By the time fall came around, it was a no-brainer that I would be doing cross country. Since then, I have been a year-round runner, participating in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. Other than deciding to attend Hamilton, choosing to do cross country was one of the best decisions I have ever made. A lot of great things happen when you run.

Q. Why did you choose to attend Hamilton?
A. I remember beginning the college search process having no idea what I wanted in a school besides great academics. Hamilton is the alma mater of both my parents and so my dad suggested a brief tour at Hamilton as a way to ease into the search process. At first, I was against going to Hamilton thinking it would be weird to even visit the school my parents attended. I’m so happy and thankful my dad convinced me otherwise. After one visit, Hamilton became the only school I was interested in. I loved the open curriculum, the fact that I would be able to run at the varsity level and just the overall fit. I applied early decision and, thankfully, here I am.

Q. What is your favorite Hamilton cross country memory?
A. If I had to choose just one, I would say our team winning the home invitational my sophomore year in 2012. It’s exciting to win on home turf, especially when the opportunity only comes once a season as it does in cross country. To make it even better, everyone ran a personal-best time that day. There was such a buzz of excitement and a great sense of accomplishment at the finish line, and in general everyone was so happy. It’s the best feeling in the world to share great moments with your teammates.

Q. Where is your favorite place on campus?
A. I love both the indoor and outdoor track. Both are places where I’m reminded not only of the hard work I have done in workouts and races, but also of future goals and what I need to do to make them happen. The track is also where I have made life-long friends, formed great team bonds and had so much fun.

Q. What internships/research projects have you participated in?
A. This past summer I worked on a group Levitt project led by Professor Chaise LaDousa and Professor John Bartle. Our team did ethnographic research in English-as-a-second-language classrooms in Utica where many refugees go to learn English after arriving here in the U.S. The six of us looked at different aspects of the relationship between students learning English and the education system in the U.S. Along with our observational study, we also did one-on-one tutoring with the students and conducted interviews asking them about their experiences in other countries and here in the U.S. Interviewing the students was the best part of our work. Each person we talked to had such a unique story to tell. Some were hilarious, some were difficult to listen to, but all were remarkably inspiring.

Q. What has been the most interesting part of your major so far?
A. I love how my majors play off each other so much. I have always been interested in language, so being able to study the use of language through my anthropology major while studying a second language though my French major has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling. One my favorite academic experiences was taking a course at the ILPGA (Institut de Linguistique et Phonétique Générales et Appliquées) at Paris III during my semester in the Hamilton Junior Year in France program. The class was called acquisition de la syntaxe (Syntax acquisition) and the course focused on the process by which children acquire French, and determine the rules that govern their native language. Studying linguistics through another language was something I never expected I would do in college, but the perspective it gave me about language and language use was incredible.

Q. What was your favorite class outside of your major? Why?
A. My sophomore year I took meteorology, taught by Professor Cindy Domack, and absolutely loved it. I honestly believe it’s one of the most important courses offered at Hamilton. Sometimes we underestimate how much weather affects us each and every day, and how helpful it is to understand the science behind what’s happening in our atmosphere.

Q. What is something most people don't know about you?
A. Many people know my middle name is Jane but few know I love my middle name because it comes after my Grandma Jane. She has been such an important person in my life and an incredibly positive influence in the lives of many others as well. Not to mention she knits, cooks incredible food, drives tractors, chops wood for the woodstove, follows all the Syracuse basketball games, spends Tuesday nights volunteering at a hospice and is kind enough to send a care package of cookies to her granddaughter every single week. I feel very lucky and honored to share part of my name with this extraordinary woman.

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