While her peers were laying by the seashore or having a pleasant time on the Plains, Emily Junkins, Auburn alumna, spent her summer 2011 in Zambia with a group of like-minded Auburn students.
Her research done while at Auburn combined with a military marriage made her the perfect candidate for the Pat Tillman Scholarship for Military and Military Spouses. She met her husband, John Mark Junkins, airman in the U.S. Air Force, in Auburn.
The two were married after graduation in 2012.
His service made her eligible for the scholarship and after moving from Hawaii where she received her master's in forensic science, she settled down in Oklahoma for school.
The funding goes toward her research at The University of Oklahoma, where she is currently studying toward her Ph.D in microbiology. Emily said she likes the University of Oklahoma but found it difficult when they played Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.
Originally from Birmingham, Emily chose Auburn despite her family's wishes.
"My entire family are Alabama fans and I don't think they've completely forgiven me," Emily said.
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Emily graduated from Auburn in 2012 with a degree in cellular, microbial and molecular biology. She found herself involved with campus ministry that was affiliated with non-profits that caught her attention.
She worked with the nonprofit, Servant's in Faith and Technology, SIFAT. Emily said there a few departments at Auburn that have worked with SIFAT in the past. They worked in a Zambian city where they laid the groundwork for a community center that provides a place for the people to learn appropriate technologies.
"That's the keystone of that organization," Emily said. "An appropriate technology would be something that solves a problem for a specific community that uses items they can get."
For example, Emily said, digging a hole in the Saharan desert isn't an appropriate technology because it wouldn't work.
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Specifically, Emily worked on rock stoves that would shield those cooking from smoke that comes up as they lean over the fire. This protected the mother from the smoke as well as the child that was frequently clinging to her back, Emily said.
Emily taught community leaders how to purify water with the UV light from the sun. The community leaders would then go to their own villages and teach the people there.
"It wasn't use busting into a community as a bunch of white people from the United States saying, 'You should do it this way,' and then leaving and creating a vacuum," Emily said.
The travel is nothing unfamiliar to Emily, as a military wife.
"You live a transient life," Emily said.
Having moved from Hawaii to Oklahoma, Emily said there are some moves that are rough. It's very hot in Oklahoma, but there isn't the luxury of jumping in the water, she said. Being busy with research has helped keep her mind off what she might miss.
"At the end of the day you have to weigh out what I want to do and what John Mark wants to do and see how we can make both work," Emily said. "We've been very fortunate to have career choices that work out. That's probably not normal for most."
Emily said she and her husband do very different jobs but serve as somewhat of a mentor in both roles. He enjoys the camaraderie among the soldiers and she the same with her undergraduate students.
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