Emma Busch, '21

Emma Busch sits on steps on campus.

Emma Busch, a sophomore majoring in exercise science and psychology, has spent a week of her past four summers volunteering at a camp with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year, as a Miller Service scholarship recipient, Busch was able to become more involved with her role at camp which helped push her closer to her future career goals.

Volunteering for the first time with the organization at age 16 helped her decide what she wanted to do for a future career.

“As a camp counselor, you basically become a caregiver for the camper you are paired with,” Busch said. “After working closely with physical therapists at camp that year I realized that working with kids with disabilities is something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Even before becoming a camp counselor, Busch had an interest in the field.

“I’ve always had a love for science and the human body. I love how much science challenges me and that we are constantly finding new things out about our bodies and medicine is always changing,” Busch said. “But also, I enjoy the contact you have with people and being able to meet all different kinds of people.”

With help from Cindy Schmersal, M.A., vice president of Mission and Ministry, Busch went through the process of applying for the Miller Service scholarship.

“The application is very simple. I met with Cindy and she helped give me ideas of places I could do my service,” Busch said. “From there, I reached out to the MDA office in St. Louis and discussed options of how I could complete my hours. After figuring out all the details, I filled out the small application for the scholarship and Cindy helped walk me through it.”

As a recipient of the scholarship, Busch was grateful that she had the opportunity to help her parents pay for her education.

“Receiving this scholarship meant the world to me for several reasons. For starters, my parents are working really hard to put me through college and help me out the best they can so that I don’t have to take many loans out. To be able to help them out feels great to me,” Busch said.

While Busch would have participated in the summer camp whether or not she had received the scholarship, being a recipient helped her become more involved with it.

“Every year I’ve just shown up and did my part as a counselor, but this year I truly got to see all the work that is put into camp behind the scenes,” Busch said. “Being able to take part in that really only made me appreciate camp more, and I am grateful for all the staff members at MDA that work countless hours the week before helping to make everything run smoothly.”

Busch explained the week of camp as something that you have to experience yourself. She said that it was hard for her to put it into words.

“Many of the kids explain camp as a place where you aren’t looked at as different for your disability, but rather accepted because it makes you unique,” Busch said. “I’ve heard from many of the older kids that when they were first diagnosed they were in denial, but when they came to camp and met other kids like them they learned to accept the cards they were given.”

In addition to having the opportunity to serve others, Busch was able to learn and grow on a more personal level.

“Something I’ve learned greatly of my four years at camp is compassion,” Busch said. “This week is one of the most emotionally, mentally and physically challenging weeks for both campers and volunteers. Camp has taught me how to stretch my compassion to care for people I’ve never met before in my life. I leave in tears every year knowing that I have impacted their life in some way.”

At camp, Busch was provided with an invaluable experience that gave her much more than an insight into what her future career could be.

“At camp, I was able to find a new family. A family not about blood relations, but rather something bigger. A family that is based on pure love for other people, and a willingness to put others above yourself,” Busch said.