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Emily Leeke ’23: How her love of bugs brought her to Aggieland

Posted on 12/01/2021 04:54 PM
Emily Leeke ’23: How her love of bugs brought her to Aggieland
Growing up in Austin, Emily Leeke ’23 went to every University of Texas open house with her dad. She found herself drawn to their entomology exhibit, so her dad suggested she research schools with that major. Through her research, Emily discovered that Texas A&M University also offered an entomology program. Although she initially took an interest in bugs, she decided she wanted to be a veterinarian —and Texas A&M’s program would allow her to explore both.

Emily’s dad advised her to learn more about Texas A&M, get connected with the school and even visit the campus since she had never been to College Station. After one trip to Aggieland, she knew it would be her second home.

“Everybody was so willing and welcoming to point us in the right direction,” Emily said. “People stopping and genuinely asking, ‘Hey, you're a prospective student. What are you interested in? Can I help you out?’ The campus here is so unique in so many ways…I really don't think there's another place like it.”
Emily wanted to be a part of somewhere that felt like home. She found that and much more in Aggieland.

A Bug’s Life

When people hear that Emily’s major is entomology, the typical reaction is “why?” But for Emily, her reaction is “why not?” The junior biomedical sciences and entomology double major is a Brockman Scholar and was accepted to the Master of Science in Business program in the Mays Business School. After that, she plans to attend veterinary school at Texas A&M. With a Doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM), the possibilities are endless.

“You can do a lot of things with a DVM,” Emily said. “I've met people that run their own practice, that do surgery, that work for the CDC, that advocate law-wise, and here lately, I've been working for veterinarians in the entomology lab realm.”

Texas A&M gives students the resources and flexibility to pursue different programs and tailor their degree plans to their potential careers. By studying bugs and biomedical sciences, Emily is preparing to be well-versed in not just how biological systems work, but also how animals, arthropods and humans coexist. She hasn’t decided if she will continue on the research route, but knows she wants to be a veterinarian with her own practice, which is where the business degree will be beneficial.

Fondest Memories
Emily immersed herself into the Aggie culture through the school’s time-honored traditions. She recalls attending her Aggie Ring Day surrounded by family and friends.  Even Emily’s grandmother emailed her asking about what ring she was getting and the significance of it.

“Having a dual STEM degree, it's not easy sometimes,” Emily said.” “Some days, you're like, ‘what did I get myself into?’ Having my dad put the ring on my finger and knowing I can look at it as the first Aggie in my family is a proud moment. I worked for that and next is graduation.”

Another Aggie tradition that Emily appreciates is Silver Taps, which is the final tribute paid to an Aggie who, at the time of their death, was enrolled in professional, graduate or undergraduate courses at Texas A&M. Emily said she remembers the tradition being explained during her tour, but experiencing one was much more impactful.

“I love the idea of having something physical on campus where we can really honor the lives of the students who were just like us,” Emily said. “They were here, making friends, getting a degree, going to class every single day. And then unfortunately, their lives were lost. To be able to recognize them in the highest honor possible with that volley salute is powerful.”

In Emily’s two years of being here, she’s only known one student honored during Silver Taps. At the ceremonies she has been able to attend, she said seeing the students come together is really special.

Core Values

Of the six Aggie Core Values — Respect, Excellence, Leadership, Loyalty, Integrity and Selfless Service — Emily said selfless service is the most visible on campus. With volunteer opportunities ranging from The Big Event to MSC Hospitality, Aggies find many ways to give back to the local community and beyond. As a Howdy Crew tour leader, Selfless Service is a trait Emily exudes daily.

Beyond that, she feels Texas A&M helps students develop integrity.

“You come to A&M for a degree, but you leave a way better person as well,” Emily said. “You're developing your character and integrity is a big part of that. Doing what you say you're going to do, being where you say you're going to be, taking care of your friends when maybe they need more help. That's something that is very important to me. By being at A&M, I've been able to develop and express that more.”

A Sense of Belonging

Emily describes Texas A&M as a place that has diverse degree options that can be tailored to your specific interests…even if it’s bugs. With more than 1,000 student organizations and the Department of Multicultural Services, you can and will find your people. It just takes a bit of courage to put yourself out there. 

“Once you find your people, college is so fun,” Emily said. “You can say howdy to whoever you sit next to and they will say howdy back, because the ice is automatically broken.  So, join that org — even if you think it’s weird — and you can find your home in Aggieland.”

Credits: Jasmine Johnson