Meet the WPLN Fellows: Emma Ruskamp

In 2022, WPLN launched its first-ever Fellowship for nonprofit management. As part of the program, fellows help build the capacity of our organization and assist our State Partners who identify, engage, and train women on the ground to seek public office. This year, WPLN continues this program with its second cohort of three outstanding young women.

Meet Emma Ruskamp, WPLN fellow from Columbus, Nebraska. Emma is pursuing her Bachelor’s in Journalism (Advertising and Public Relations) at the University of Nebraska Omaha, and is expecting to graduate in 2024.

[WPLN]: What about WPLN's mission do you feel most passionate about? 

[Emma]: I resonate with many aspects of WPLN’s mission. However, when I first started researching this organization, it stood out as a woman-led, center-right-leaning organization. I grew up in the Good Life state of Nebraska with small-town values. When I left home to further my education, I was shocked to realize that not all Nebraskans share the same opinions as me. This state is full of strong people with valuable thoughts. However, being young, I felt unprepared to converse with my peers about our diverging beliefs. As I deepened my values, I became more prepared to engage in dialogue. Through WPLN, I have found a group of women I can identify with and look up to. I am excited to be influenced by women who share my values and encourage me to pursue leadership.

What are you most looking forward to with your Fellowship? 

This Fellowship is full of incredible opportunities for young women. I am excited to make new friends with women who believe what I believe! I look forward to a year of assisting local organizations with their goal of empowering women to seek public service leadership positions.

What do you see as one of the biggest challenges for women in leadership today?

The most prominent challenge women face today is a need for more mentorship. I am afraid many girls have dreams that cease to exist because they lack suitable role models. Every girl has gifts, and what makes us beautiful is our difference in abilities. A network of supportive women encouraging each other to pursue their passions is what we need to be successful. It brings me great joy to have found the Women’s Public Leadership Network because I have found a group of women actively making history.

How do you plan to impact your community post-graduation? 

My biggest goal in life is to serve others. I plan to pursue a life of servitude in any direction I go. I want to stay in the nonprofit sector for the rest of my life, as I have felt the most fulfilled providing resources to my community. I want to live a purpose-driven life, and I will accomplish that by serving my community. I plan to further my professional development through advanced career opportunities. My ultimate goal is to seek public office and serve Nebraska as an elected official.

What is your favorite quote by a woman who has impacted your life?

My favorite quote by a woman who has impacted my life is “I love you” from my mother. My mom is my biggest inspiration. She is smart, speaks her mind, and shows me what it means to be loved unconditionally. My mom has inspired me to be the strongest woman I can be while remaining empathetic. I remember sitting outside with my mom on one windy yet peaceful night, and she said, “Look at the way the tree breathes.” She has a beautiful mind. She is creative, loving, faithful, and my favorite woman. My mom sees the world through a lens of compassion, and I am inspired to be as incredible as she is.