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Senior Spotlight: Emily Irigoyen

Posted by on Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Profiles.

This May, we’re shining the spotlight on some of our College of Arts and Science seniors! Meet Emily Irigoyen, a double major in environmental sociology and Spanish.


What was your favorite class?

My favorite class has been Law and Social Movements (Soc 3605) taught by Dr. Holly McCammon. We explored the role of lawyers in enacting social change by analyzing the civil rights movement, environmental movement, gay rights movement, and various others. Dr. McCammon and her class cemented my aspirations of being an environmental attorney.


Can you tell us about your Immersion project?

My Immersion project was overseen by Dr. McCammon and was a research paper titled Green Eyes: Corporate Surveillance of Environmental Activists, which is published in the Undergraduate Research Journal. I was able to supplement my research with a Buchanan Library fellowship on privacy and surveillance economies. My paper offers new questions to guide future research on the role of privacy, social media, and grey intelligence on surveillance of environmental activist groups. In particular, the study explores different cases of activist monitoring, both online and in-person, to demonstrate that the increase of activism on social media, while seemingly beneficial, has also made activists more vulnerable to surveillance by corporations.


What are you most proud of during your time at Vanderbilt?

I am most proud of co-founding DivestVU, an organization on campus that advocates for Vanderbilt to divest their endowment from fossil fuels. We have been able to bring awareness to climate change issues with the help of other social justice and multicultural organizations on campus and lead profound conversations on environmental justice and intersectionality in the climate crisis.


What advice would you give to incoming Vanderbilt students?

I would tell future students to explore everything they can during their time at Vanderbilt. Take classes that challenge your world view or push you out of your comfort zone. Attend speaker events on topics you don’t know much about and listen to/learn from students who have different experiences than you. Vanderbilt provides you with a space to expose yourself to so many different viewpoints and I would recommend using that to your advantage.


Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?

I imagine myself as a lawyer advocating for a just transition to clean energy. Whether that’s working for a clean energy company or working on environmental policy, I hope to be using my education to help combat environmental injustice.


What is your best memory from your time at Vanderbilt? 

My best memory is the protest DivestVU co-organized outside Kirkland Hall in February 2021. It was the first protest I had ever planned, and it was during a time when COVID restrictions were in full effect. Despite these setbacks, we were able to plan a successful protest where students from various groups were able to speak about their views on climate justice and its relation to divestment. It was amazing seeing the fruits of our group’s advocacy work and hearing from so many students who support divestment.