Emma Brinley Buckley '10
Simply put, senior Emma Brinley Buckley marches to the beat of her own drum. “I’ve found that I don’t excel if I feel like I’m being forced to do something,” she says. This Lakeville, Conn. native saw the opportunity to define her own path by attending GMC, while having a good time with good people while doing it.
However, it wasn’t just a favorable social scene drew Emma to GMC. “I liked the fact that the college offered diverse options because I have such diverse interests… Here, I could pursue my studies and still have time to play basketball.” And play basketball she did – in a career that is sure to make a lasting impact on the GMC program.
Over the past four years, she has accumulated record-breaking statistics both offensively and defensively, recently surpassing the 1,000 mark in points and rebounds—a first for a GMC women’s basketball player. “I don’t really think about the records,” says Brinley Buckley. “I’m not even sure how I scored 1,000 points. I’ve never seen myself as a high-scorer. I’ve always liked blocking shots more.” It makes sense then that Emma currently leads the nation in blocks, averaging five per game.
Emma isn’t just an athletic standout statistically, but mentally as well. Her views on the game are indicative of a deep appreciation that, as she herself points out, is increasingly rare among talented athletes. “Some people are cocky about sports—I don’t like playing alongside of people like that,” she says. “Thankfully, the women’s basketball team here is not like that at all, which is one reason why I’ve been so encouraged to keep playing.”
Aside from this, Emma knows that her basketball campaign is coming to an end soon, as she graduates at the end of the semester. “It hasn’t really clicked in yet. I think all of the free time I’ll have will be a big change. We practice six days-a-week for around two hours per day,” she says. “It’s a lot of commitment for a Division III school.” According to Brinley Buckley, playing tough basketball in a smaller division has it advantages: “I feel like not having the pressure to live up to some big scholarship actually forces you to rely on your passion for the game as motivation.”
Much like her balancing act of athletic accomplishments, Brinley Buckley also manages the unique challenges of her self-designed degree plan, which—through GMC’s Progressive program—focuses on photography and wildlife conservation. For Emma, going back and forth between science and art can be pretty jarring. The challenge has taught the senior a useful lesson along the way: “You can never force creativity,” she says.
Emma is spending this semester working as a research assistant to Prof. Mark Jordan (biology) before pursuing her senior study: working at Northwest Trek, a wildlife park in Seattle, where she hopes to incorporate her skills in photography during this time.
Future plans for Brinley Buckley include graduate school and possibly a doctorate later down the road. As she does so, she will have the advantage of a well-intended and diverse undergraduate career—from her academic emphasis in conservation and photography to her superior athletic achievements—which, in many ways, epitomizes what a liberal arts education is all about.
-Chad Skiles ‘12