Freshman Finds Community at the VMA and on the Rowing Team

Emma with some of her rowing teammatesThe University of Alabama has a strong tradition of honoring the men and women who have served in our armed forces (and their families). In fact, UA has received distinction as a top ten Military Friendly® School for 2022-2023. One of the ways UA supports military members and families is through the Division of Student Life’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (VMA).

The VMA hires student workers with military connections – students like Emma Burnley. Emma is a freshman at the Capstone whose family is currently stationed in Fort Still, OK. She said that working at the VMA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. She loves the people she is able to work with and the support she receives from the VMA staff.

Moving around so much as a child compelled Emma to seek a campus environment that felt like home. She chose UA because of the friendliness and welcoming “Roll Tide!” spirit.

“I have learned it’s not the place where you live that’s home, but rather the people who become home. And the people in Tuscaloosa are my new home.” –Emma Burnley

Growing up as a swimmer and CrossFit enthusiast, Emma knew she wanted to be active in college. On the day she moved into her residence hall, her family saw a flyer to try out to walk on to the women’s rowing team at UA. Knowing her passion for being active and desire for community in college, Emma’s mother (who is her biggest role model) encouraged her to try out. “Now that I am on the team,” says Emma, “I couldn’t imagine not doing it.  The bonds I have created within the last five months I am certain will last a lifetime.”

This past weekend, Emma was chosen as one of the select few rowers to compete in the PAC 12 invitational in Las Vegas, NV. UA took four boats – two eights and two fours. Emma was a part of one of the four-person boats. She said, “Racing is especially rewarding because not only are you representing your sport, but you’re representing The University of Alabama, and that in itself is an honor.”

Through her time working at the VMA and being a part of the women’s rowing team, Emma has made memories and connections that will last a lifetime.