Emma Tapscott ’22

The Mindful Applicant, Brookline, MA

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work as the Writing Mentor and Startup Marketing Intern with The Mindful Applicant (TMA). Co-founded by Sara Toulson ’08, TMA is a startup organization that reaches high school students furthest from opportunity and guides them through a process of self-discovery. The leaders of TMA are passionate about shifting the narrative around the college process from a stress-motivated one, determined by privilege and test scores, to a powerful introspective experience in which students reflect on their values and share their own personal stories. As a writing mentor, I worked one-on-one with students for an hour each week, helping them with college application essays and developing self-awareness and social-emotional skills. Our pilot curriculum, Brain Alive, prompts students to reflect on parts of themselves that they might not have had the chance to think about or share aloud; in our sessions, I guide them through this process of excavating their internal worlds, hoping to draw together a common theme that might make for a vulnerable and authentic college essay.

Emma with Slack open.
Communicating with my supervisor over Slack! We have several check-in meetings per week.

An additional responsibility this summer was to reach out to contacts in similar fields (SEL, college and career prep, ed-tech, public/charter schools) and schedule meetings to learn more about their work and gain feedback on our product. Many of these contacts ended up being Williams alums, so I was able to hear about their personal career journeys as well as their vision for how to make education more accessible and equitable. Networking is not something that I am often comfortable doing, but my supervisor was incredibly supportive in all steps along the way, and I was able to gain a great deal of confidence with speaking to professionals and asking thoughtful questions about careers in education. I learned so much about what it means to balance personal boundaries and the demands of the job, how the field of SEL has grown and will continue to grow in the wake of Covid, and how educators are working on the ground to help students achieve new dreams that they never envisioned for themselves.

When I saw the job posting, I thought it must be too good to be true, as TMA combines so many of the values and skills that I care most about. As an English and American Studies major and the daughter of a reading teacher, this was a perfect experience for me to combine my passions for working with students, writing, self-reflection, and dismantling systems of privilege in the United States. This experience allowed me to become more confident as a leader and teacher, as well as to use my natural inclinations for self-reflection and listening in order to facilitate meaningful connections. What this organization so well exemplifies, and what I will continue to dedicate myself to professionally, is creating change within America’s white supremacist patriarchal institutions while also acknowledging all the intricate nuances of what it means to be human.

Thank you very much to Mr. and Mrs. Case for their generous support and to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for 
making this opportunity possible for me.