Emily Harburg is a bright, hard-working young woman who just recently completed her doctoral studies at Northwestern University. She is an eloquent speaker with a willingness to answer questions and go further in depth when needed. We were recently blessed to have Emily speak to our community in the Loop.
When Emily applied for college, she initially wanted to study journalism. To her dismay, Harvard didn’t offer this major, so instead she chose psychology and anthropology. Like any parents, Emily’s parents voiced their concern over what career this education path could lead her to. Despite her lack of an applicable degree, Emily was presented with an opportunity to work in finance at Walt Disney World. Her job involved research of theme parks, working closely with the behavioral research team. She learned how to create meaningful and memorable experiences for people. Her favorite project involved posing as an undercover housekeeper. She was able to spark conversations with the other custodians and understand their stories.
Disney is a place where every employee is a cast member that serves all guests; Emily’s experiences at Disney as a researcher, undercover housekeeper, and even a character, were all humbling and impactful in their own ways. She soon came to the realization that if she wanted to compete in today’s society, she had to know about technology, so she went back to school.
At Northwestern she studied technology and social behavior. Emily began a new job working for Facebook where she often used the social comparison theory. She studied how people feel online and how organizations can positively influence those feelings. Emily opened our eyes to the fact that technology is moving towards a potentially dangerous place. Our world is starting to “play God” with technology. It would be beneficial if we could encourage more people of faith to enter the technology field.
Dr. Harburg is now co-founder and Director of Programs at Brave Initiatives. Brave Initiatives is a group of women that's come together to serve young women, helping them build confidence in computer science at a younger age. Through this, Brave Initiatives hopes to help build resiliency and help the young women see a positive and confident future. They do this via free camps and workshops throughout the year, and need help creating awareness.
This is just one example of an individual tapping into her talents to make a difference in this world. Everyone on this earth was blessed with a unique set of skills. It is our responsibility to tap into these skills and use them to serve God by serving others. Just as Isaiah 6:8 directs us, ask God where He wishes we ought to be sent. Here we are God, send us.