A Perfect Match
While most students leave the Honors’ program with a better understanding of the world and some cherished memories, a few lucky students leave with something more: their perfect match. Two senior Honors students, Joshua Webster-Ford and Emma Webster, discovered more than interdisciplinary connections – they found each other.
Joshua, a Biochemistry major with minors in Chinese and Physics, grew up in in Laramie, Wyoming. While he enjoyed the scenic activities that beautiful Wyoming provides, he found his real interest came from learning languages. In high school, he learned to speak Spanish and French. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he began learning Mandarin, Chinese when he opted to spend the summer between his sophomore and junior year with a host family in China. “I didn’t speak any Chinese at the time, and my host family spoke little English. A lot of the time I had no idea what was going on– it was awesome” Joshua explained to me. After high school, Joshua was called to serve in Singapore, where he had the chance to further improve his Mandarin.
Emma, an Economics major with a minor in Mathematics, grew up with her dad in the Airforce, so much of her childhood involved bouncing from place to place. As a small child she lived in England where she was able to develop a proper English accent– even if it only lasted a few years. Emma said that the majority of her childhood was spent in Finland, where she attended elementary school. She sang, danced, and spent her free time on a Finnis hip-hop team, where she was able to perform and compete. By the time she was in high school, Emma’s family had moved to Arizona where Emma decided she wanted to participate in a student exchange program between her junior and senior of high school– in China.
With a shared love for learning about new cultures and appreciating the diversity the world has to offer, it seems Emma and Joshua were destined to meet – but that didn’t happen until BYU. While working as a Teacher’s Assistant for Honors 120, Emma first met Joshua when he was a student in her class. Don’t worry– their relationship was strictly business until the semester was over. “Joshua never came in for in-person office hours so there wasn’t really the chance to get to know each other anyway,” teased Emma. After grades were finalized though, Joshua was ready to make his move. He explained that he sent her an email thanking her for teaching and that they should keep in touch (Naturally, he included his phone number). “I just thought she was really cool, and if something happens, awesome. And then I got really lucky, and she actually texted me” says Joshua.
Now, we could say the rest is history, but details are more fun, right? Exactly a year from that first day of class, Emma proposed to Joshua in the classroom where they met. Emma explained to me that she texted Joshua and asked him if he could help her run through a presentation she was giving. “I let him in the classroom and he was totally shocked– I set up lights and flowers and a table with some meaningful stuff.” A week later, Joshua gave his own proposal on a hike they went on together. “We’re very much an equal partnership, and so we wanted to do a double engagement,” says Emma. The following June, they tied the knot in a beautiful summer wedding.
Recent adventures include spending a semester in France, where Emma participated in a student exchange program with the business school and Joshua took some online courses and polished his French. Now, they’re both working on their Honors thesis. Emma is focusing on understanding the relationship between child tax credits and female participation in the workforce. While labor force participation is declining for both men and women, women make up a smaller percentage of the labor force overall. This decreased participation is especially true for single women with children. By looking at different tax credit strategies, Emma hopes to analyze how the amount of aid families receive impacts female labor participation.
For his thesis, Joshua plans to examine drugs that can hinder the progression of Alzheimer’s. He is currently toward his thesis proposal while finishing up his Great Questions essay.
While both Emma and Joshua say their favorite part of the program has been finding each other, they agree they appreciate the wide variety of experiences the program has given them. Emma noted she loved being introduced to new ideas and the unique perspectives of other students and faculty. Joshua added that he really enjoyed the diversity of students in the Honors program. “I also love the unexpected connections courses!” he said. “They were a nice way to learn lots but through a different way than classes in my major, so they were always a breath of fresh air!”
With big dreams and big plans, the future is bright for Emma and Joshua. After graduating next year, their goal is to join the Peace Corps in Africa and live there for a few years serving those communities. Afterward, they both plan to attend graduate school, hopefully in either England or Sweden. Wherever life ends up taking these two, we can count on the fact that they’ll put their Honors background to good use serving those around them – and no doubt exciting adventures await!