Student’s love of teaching stems from early tragedy

By Eric Devlin
Graduating Education major Emily Duggan is president of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Christian Club. Photos by Eric Devlin.

Graduating Education major Emily Duggan is president of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Christian Club. Photos by Eric Devlin.

Emily Duggan’s passion for helping others was forged from a tragic loss at an early age.

In 2006, her then 3-year-old younger sister, Lauren, died from complications related to trisomy, a genetic disorder where a person has three copies of a chromosome in their DNA instead of two, causing developmental abnormalities.

“She was very sick” said Duggan. “But she lived three amazing years.”

The grief from the loss, however, shaped who Duggan is today, she said. Now 20, Duggan decided the best way to honor her sister’s life would be for her to work with children and she chose to pursue a career in elementary and special education .

Emily DugganThe 2019 Hatboro-Horsham High School graduate is from Horsham and began studying at Montgomery County Community College in the summer of 2019. Before becoming a student, Duggan did her homework on the College and said she felt sure going there was the best choice.

“I had heard a representative from the College was coming to my high school and I wanted to check it out and see what it was all about,” she said. “Then I went on tours and it was just the right fit. I knew I wanted to go to Montco. It had the community I was looking for.”

At MCCC, Duggan has become a model student. She’s the current president of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for community colleges. The organization requires students to achieve a 3.5 or higher grade point average and have earned a minimum of 12 credits from the College. Duggan likes interacting with its members.

“I started off as vice president of fellowship and helped recruit members and get people involved. I ran the Instagram page we have and just did my best to attend meetings and be involved,” she said. “In spring semester of 2021 I became president.”

Being a member and president of a club during a pandemic was challenging, but Duggan said the group managed to have an impact. For example, they organized Montco PTK Votes, to encourage participation in the upcoming election by asking people to send photos of themselves voting and they would post it on social media. Most recently PTK members distributed free headphones, candy, masks, hand sanitizers and water bottles to students to encourage them to join.

“I like the people,” said Duggan. “I love the journey we’ve all been on together.”

Duggan’s faith is also an enormous part of her life. On campus this spring she became president of the Christian Club (one of over 30 organizations on campus for students.)

“I love this group. We’re more than friends. We’re like a family,” she said. “Everyone comes together and trusts one another. Students can learn more about faith, seek God and learn about fellowship.”

The club meets weekly and regularly hosts events including game nights, worship nights and Bible studies to encourage community participation.

Outside campus, you can find Duggan still surrounded by family. She lives at home with her parents, her brother, Matt, 16, her sister, Madison, 13, and the family pets, including their 2-year-old Labradoodle, Kali, Chip, the hamster and a school of fish.

She’s also a regular at the Ambler Area YMCA, where she’s worked for the past four years. Naturally, her job is in child watch.

“It’s like a babysitter. Basically I watch kids while their parents work out,” she said. “The kids range in age from 3 months to 11 years old. I love it. The kids are so cute; they always put a smile on my face.”

In December, Duggan will likely say goodbye to her Montco Family (she may take a few classes in the spring, if she’s allowed), as she’s set to graduate. She plans to further her passion for helping others by pursuing a degree in elementary and special education at West Chester University, and minor in psychology. As her remaining days wind down, she’s reminded of the good times she’s had over the last two years at MCCC, she said.

“I’ve loved every second of it. I’m sad to be leaving next month. It’s felt like a family,” she said. “I love the clubs they offer. My advice to any student is to take advantage of what they offer. You may find something you like or can use in the future. Even on a big campus, it’s a big family. I’ve loved every experience. Montco was the right decision. I’m so glad I went to Montco. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”