CLEMSON — Emily Scircle, a senior at Clemson University, has been named an undergraduate student representative to the Executive Board of Directors for The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Scircle was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi in 2017 and serves as the chapter’s undergraduate vice president. Clemson’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi — founded in 1938 — consists of the top 7.5 percent of juniors and 10 percent of seniors and graduate students from all academic disciplines at Clemson.
As undergraduate vice president, Scircle established the first student involvement committee to increase activities and support for members within the chapter. She also helped organize a book drive, partnering with the Gantt Multicultural Center to support underrepresented, low-income schools in the state of South Carolina.
As a member of the board, she will travel to Louisiana for meetings and represent the undergraduate student population.
“This role will allow Emily to provide student perspective to the Board of Directors, which govern the society,” said Christine Minor, president of Clemson’s Chapter 049 of Phi Kappa Phi and a professor in the biological sciences department. “She was elected after preparing a nomination package, delivering her platform at the national convention this past summer, and competing with other students from across the U.S. Emily is an amazing student and person, and this is merely one facet of all that is Emily.”
Originally a preferred walk-on for Clemson’s varsity rowing program, she received a medical release after her freshman season in 2016 due to a diagnosis of narcolepsy. Rather than dwell on her experience, she used it to springboard an interest in undergraduate research. Scircle enrolled in the Creative Inquiry program, focusing her research on human stress and fatigue.
“By the end of my sophomore year, I wanted to do my own study,” she said. “I was doing light therapy research using highly illuminated lamps, investigating the exposure of bright light to decrease daytime sleepiness as an alternative to caffeine and stimulants.”
Scircle worked closely with Alumni Distinguished Professor Dr. June Pilcher, a faculty member in the department of psychology, on the 2017 study. She was one of six Clemson undergraduates selected to present her findings at the ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference in April 2018.
“Emily seeks out opportunities and looks for options that many students would consider to be too much effort,” Pilcher said. “For example, she found me as a research mentor. She is not a psychology major, so she doesn’t get the emails about research opportunities with our faculty. Instead, she was interested in sleep-related research and found me on the Clemson web page. Then she showed up during my office hours to talk about joining my research team. The best part was, she came prepared. She had an idea of what my team does and she was ready to talk about why she was interested in joining my team.
“Since joining my research team, Emily has shown herself to be consistently ready to push the boundaries but in a good way. This Phi Kappa Phi opportunity is one good example. Emily and I attended its National Convention this summer, where she had to give a short talk to all attendees and make herself known to get elected to this position. Obviously, she did a great job!”
A well-rounded student, Scircle has been involved in several facets of campus life. She has been a member of Alpha Delta Pi since freshman year and has chaired its alumni relations, First Friday and Homecoming committees. In addition to her involvement with Phi Kappa Phi, Scircle is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-professional honor society, and Order of Omega, made up of the top three percent of all Greek organizations on campus. She also serves as a mentor for Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society for students with disabilities, and was recently elected its vice president.
Since her release from the rowing team, Scircle sought to find an outlet for physical activity. She found it in August 2017 while perusing social media.
“I came across an Instagram post from the waterski team,” she said. “I thought it looked so cool. Even though I didn’t know how to slalom or anything, they took me under their wing. I was a swimmer for such a long time growing up and was a student-athlete here, so I craved that team support system. Having an outlet where I can focus my energy on attention to detail has been important. I do slalom, trick and jump skiing.”
Scircle, whose mother Kimberly graduated from Clemson in 1986, is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in language and international health, with an emphasis in Spanish and hospital administration. The collaborative major offers immersive education in both language and public health.
She first took interest in the major as a high schooler. While completing an internship with a local hospital emergency room, she encountered a young mother suffering a miscarriage.
“No one in the department spoke a lick of Spanish,” she said. “I was trying to do anything I could to communicate until we could get a translator. It was the most stressful and emotional experience you could imagine. The fact we couldn’t be more clear and comforting was tough. So, I wanted to help bridge that gap, by increasing accessibility for the Spanish-speaking population in South Carolina.”
Scircle has applied to medical schools, applied for a Fulbright scholarship and entertained the idea of graduate school — all choices she says remain on the table — but isn’t in a hurry to complete her Clemson experience.
“It’s been an absolute whirlwind,” she said, “but I would do anything to go back to freshman year and do it all over again.”
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