“The golden nugget of a liberal arts education is the role that your peers, staff, and faculty play. My professors were not ‘bosses’ that I worked for or completed lab work for. My teachers were simply the laces on my boots that kept me put together as I walked in the woods.”

Empathy, Exploration, & Hiking Boots


Emily Blau, C’14
Dean of Students
Lake County Intermediate School
Major: Environmental Studies

Emily Blau, C’14, is the dean of students at Lake County Intermediate School in Leadville, Colorado. She started her education career as a fourth-grade teacher leading students through the state’s history and its environmental beauty.

“I’ve come full circle,” Emily says. “As a freshman, I took a class at Sewanee called Walking the Land. It allowed me to see not only the campus but the beauty of the environment as a whole. When I took a Western Geology class as a senior with the same professor, we were out here at the Four Corners. Colorado was where I’d soon begin my professional journey.”

Emily’s love of the outdoors is integral to her life and career, but she also has the gift of leadership and empathy. Her new position as dean of students will allow her to work directly with staff and students to boost the level of performance at the school—and not just academically. As she works on improving the school’s overall culture, Emily will be coaching teachers, managing student behavior, and working directly with kids who have exhibited challenging behavior. Emily is also tasked with giving all students a sense of equity when outdoors. She’s getting them to go outside, have fun, and feel confident.

“Our school is located at 10,000 feet above sea level,” Emily says. “We pride ourselves in giving all our students, regardless of race or language, opportunities to feel like they can be outside, too. Most of my students are English-language learners with Latino parents, and these populations haven’t been as welcomed in the culture of outdoor exploration. I mean, hiking-appropriate boots are expensive, you know?”

Emily is working to ensure that her students can get outside and feel connected to their place in the world. Connection is something Emily learned at Sewanee. Relationships with classmates and even simple walks in the woods gave Emily the same sense of place she wants to offer to her own students.

“Sewanee was a place I could thrive,” Emily says. “Sewanee should have a sticker on its website that says ‘Guaranteed: connections, lifelong friendships, and amazing experiences.’ It’s a place that will be dear to me for a really, really long time.”