May 14, 2024 | Staff

In 2020, Emerson Silvernail graduated from Calvin University with a political science major with a concentration in policy analysis and civic leadership. He also completed an interdisciplinary studies major focused in business, sociology, and philosophy. We checked in with the former student body president to see what he's up to now and what advice he has for current college students.

1. What are you doing professionally and personally right now?

After I graduated from Calvin, I had the privilege of working for now-State Senator Mark E. Huizenga in various campaign, legislative, and communication capacities. Last spring, I began a new opportunity as the legislative director for Republican Minority Vice Chair of Appropriations Sarah Lightner in the Michigan House of Representatives. Concurrent with my work in the Michigan Legislature, I am preparing for the LSAT and taking courses at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College to pursue a Native American Studies: History and Law degree. I anticipate attending law school at Michigan State University, with the goal of achieving a joint JD-MBA specializing in Indigenous Peoples law. Altogether, I intend these endeavors to prepare me for executing government affairs, economic development, and legal advisement responsibilities throughout Indian Country – collaborating with Tribal Nations to navigate the intricacies of US politics and bring renewal to tarnished government-to-government relationships.

2. How did your Calvin education shape you for your current life and role?

One of the many ways my Calvin education shaped me was by emphasizing the importance of pursuing a vocation rather than a career. While a career prioritizes personal achievement and gain, a vocation is utilizing the gifts God has provided in a manner that gives Him glory. This differentiation has influenced my decisions post-graduation and throughout my career. It is because we are called to a higher purpose–to live out Christ’s greatest commandment within our profession–that my vocation has been more than just a job. Serving others in love was taught and modeled viscerally at Calvin, and I’ve tried to demonstrate this throughout my first few years of public service to my community and state, and I intend to continue doing so wherever the Lord leads me next.

3. How are you serving as Christ’s agent of renewal in your world today?

The primary method by which I try to act as an agent of Jesus’ renewal is by creating relationships with those I disagree with politically. It is no secret that today’s politics are incredibly divisive; it often dehumanizes opposition, divides “us” against “them,” and demands inflexible conformity. Calvin prepared me to break down these barriers by recognizing the image of Christ in each person. Yes, it is human to have conflict, but simultaneously, our humanity ensures we all also value justice, belonging, and purpose. Our understanding of these values may differ, yet these foundational principles can always be found when we break out of our comfort zone and humbly engage with others. I believe deeply that each of us is called to facilitate renewal in our respective communities in this manner. By celebrating one another’s uniqueness and honoring what unites us, we bring about shalom where it is needed most.

4. What is one piece of advice you would pass along to college students today or those younger than you who might have just graduated?

Build a network! The Calvin community is extensive; you’d be surprised by how many of us there are and the range of our careers. Every one of us is behind you and wants to help you achieve success. You don’t need to track who you meet in an Excel sheet like I did (I know, I’m a nerd)! Whether you need help picking your major, finding a job, or just general career advice, I can guarantee there are enthusiastic Knights who have wisdom to share and the desire to invest in the next generation. Don’t be afraid to call or email someone who could positively impact your life.

Recent stories