Questions with Emily Lau
The holiday season, and the end of the fall semester, remind us of the cycles of endings and beginnings that mark our lives. As the semester winds down, we say goodbye to our phenomenal Editor-and-Chief, Emily Lau, as she graduates this December and enters the real world. We sat down with Emily this week to discuss her time leading Crown & Cross and learn of her hopes for the future. During our interview, we asked about her time at Columbia, her advice moving forward, and everything in between, in the hopes that—like the many pieces she has written and edited during her time here—her words will inspire and help us to appreciate the beginnings and endings we will all encounter in the coming weeks.
Tiffany Li: What brought you to Crown and Cross?
Emily Lau: Crown & Cross was a gift from God that I never expected when I came to Columbia. My second semester of college was the journal’s first one as a university-recognized club. I knew the upperclassmen who founded it, and they asked me if I’d be interested in joining a journal of Christian thought. As a Christian and English major, I felt that Crown & Cross would be a perfect opportunity for me to share my faith through writing.
TL: How did Columbia inform your walk with God?
EL: Columbia has been an interesting experience, in that I’ve had my faith tested like never before. Through those challenges, I was able to grow. Through Core classes that included books of the Bible, as well as many of my literature courses, I was able to engage with my faith in an academic setting. I could look at Christianity from a different perspective—not just as my personal faith, but also as history, philosophy, and art. Outside of the classroom, I was able to engage in exciting discussions about my faith with the diverse group of people around me. I made many friends who challenged my faith, but through their questioning, I was able to think deeper about what I believed and why. I also was blessed to find Columbia Faith and Action, a Christian ministry on campus. I made many friends who could support me emotionally and spiritually throughout my college career, and I really relied on having that Christ-centered community. All in all, through the ups and downs of college, I have really learned to trust in God more—though by no means have I reached the end in that regard. My walk with God will be an ongoing journey, and I’m excited to see what He has in store for me.
TL: Which last was—or will be—the hardest last? Why?
EL: I think the last class will be hard because I’ve been a student for so long and I love being in the classroom. But I think the hardest last will be saying goodbye to friends. Although it is not farewell forever (I will be joining my peers to walk in May), it is still hard pulling away from the community. I have friends with future jobs across the globe, so I really cherish this time being so close together. I will also be sad to leave Crown & Cross, but I’m leaving behind an amazing team, and I know that God is continually watching over the journal.
TL: Was your time at Columbia worth it? How did God show you that it was or wasn’t?
EL: It was so worth it. There were definitely difficult moments, but the things I’ve learned here in the classroom and from the people around me have been critical in shaping who I am today. I’ve had a chance to befriend people I never would have met were it not for Columbia, and God has brought people into my life that have been such incredible friends when I needed them the most. He has dropped educational and professional opportunities into my lap that I never knew to look for, and especially now in hindsight, I can see His continual guidance in my life even when the situation at the time did not make sense to me.
TL:What did you learn as Editor-in-Chief? What was the most difficult part of the job?
EL: I learned how to be a better leader—how to work with a diverse team toward a common goal. In Crown & Cross, people come from different backgrounds within Christianity, and uniting everyone has been one of my biggest challenges and privileges. I have always tried to foster a sense of love and community, not just externally with the material we put out, but also internally within the members of our team. The strength of Crown & Cross comes from the cohesion of our team under the direction of God. Ultimately, He is the one in charge, and I am so grateful for that.
TL: What is your hope for the future of Crown & Cross?
My hope is that the journal will be able to gain wider recognition on campus and online in order to share God’s love and truth with our community. Having said that, I also feel that even if Crown & Cross encourages just one person to engage more with Christianity, it is well worth our effort.
TL: Are you ready to graduate?
EL: I think it’s tough leaving something so familiar, and it’s hard to feel completely “ready,” but I’m excited to face life beyond graduation. It’s definitely bittersweet though.
TL: What is your best memory from Columbia?
EL: There are so many good memories, it is hard to think of just one. The summer after my sophomore year, I spent a few weeks abroad in Jordan, where I had the opportunity to study Sustainable Development in the Middle East. While the academic courses were in the sciences, I also had the opportunity to visit places that I had previously only read about in the Bible, such as the Red Sea, the Jordan River, and Mount Nebo, where Moses saw the Promised Land. Being there in person was such a special experience, and one that I will always treasure.
TL: Do you have any regrets about your time at Columbia? Any advice for others who are going to have the same experiences you’ve had?
EL: While I made many mistakes throughout college, I try to learn from them. I try to look back and see the areas where I can improve moving forward rather than dwelling on my regrets. As for advice, I would encourage every student to get involved with as much as possible and take full advantage of all the opportunities that Columbia affords us. Be careful not to stretch yourself too thin, but try to engage with the community in a meaningful way. For me, Crown & Cross was one of the ways I did this, and despite being a huge commitment, it was also one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in college. On a less serious note, have fun and get out of Columbia’s gates every once in a while to experience the rich and vibrant city around us.
Specifically for Christian students, I would encourage you to dig deeper into your faith and seek Christian community. Find friends who can hold you accountable and spiritual mentors who can help you along the way. Also be willing to listen to people who disagree with you and seek ways to promote respectful dialogues about different beliefs. With this semester’s print issue’s theme, “The Great Commission,” in mind, share God’s love with those around you. And, finally, remember that, even in the midst of stress, God loves and upholds you.
All of us at Crown & Cross are so grateful for the incredible time and effort Emily has put into this publication over the past three years. While we’re not quite sure what we’ll do without her, we wish her all the best as she moves into the next stage of her life.