Sassy, spunky, dressed in hot pink: Emily Giffin (’94) wows WFU

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Guest post from a Her Campus Wake Forest correspondent:

What started out as an interview for a profile in the Old Gold & Black turned into a budding friendship between Kelsey Garvey (’11), former Her Campus Wake Forest campus correspondent, and New York Times best-selling author Emily Giffin (’94), and that in turn led to an invitation for Emily to speak to fans at her alma mater. With the film for her first novel, “Something Borrowed,” scheduled to premiere on May 6, Emily returned to Benson Center last night to find a roomful of adoring fans, including former Wake Forest basketball coach and close friend, Dave Odom.

Emily graduated summa cum laude with a degree in history before heading off to the University of Virginia School of Law. But as she told her audience last night, law was never her passion. She has loved to write since she was a little girl, and even though she moved to New York to become a lawyer, she never forgot her dream of writing a novel. Faced with early rejection, she quit her litigation job, packed her things and moved overseas to London, where she spent the next 14 months writing her now internationally renowned novel, Something Borrowed.

Five books and two film contracts later, Emily was back at her alma mater to meet the next generation of Wake Forest graduates. Dressed in a hot-pink sheath dress and worried it might be a bit too short — she had counted on standing behind a podium — Emily gave us the low-down about the ups and downs of her life, both professional and personal.

The event drew over 250 people, many of them students and alumni, to Pugh Auditorium, where the staff of Her Campus Wake Forest hosted Emily’s lecture about her writing career. Her Campus is an online magazine for college women that three undergraduates at Harvard created in September 2009. Today, there are over 120 college branches of Her Campus, including the Wake Forest branch, which is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Garvey, an English major from Fairfield, Conn., is the brains behind the operation, and since its founding, Her Campus Wake Forest has grown exponentially, attracting over 7,200 fans on Facebook and over 250 followers on Twitter. Each week, the staff publishes articles about fashion trends, relationships, campus events, health topics and student profiles.

When the opportunity to bring Emily to campus to speak arose, Garvey and her team jumped on board. Not only is Emily an outstanding example of what alumni are doing after graduation; she is extremely talented, fashionable, and down-to-earth – the epitome of an ex-CollegietteTM. (That is the term Her Campus uses for female college students.)

In addition to some hilarious anecdotes about her college years, and one especially entertaining story about “stalking” her best friend’s ex-boyfriend in the French countryside, Emily had an important message to share with her audience: never give up on what you really want to do. Emily always loved to write, but she told us that out of fear of becoming a writer — and failing — she chose to continue her education in law school and work in litigation. She hated every minute of it, but she doesn’t regret it. In fact, a lot of what she experienced during those five years in New York provided the inspiration for the character of Rachel in “Something Borrowed.” And although her first attempt at writing a novel didn’t quite work out (she recalled getting the blunt, bad news that came with no punctuation from her former agent: “They all turned it down”), she was determined to keep working and writing to achieve her dream.

Now a mother of twin boys, Edward and George, and a daughter, Harriet, Emily is busy at work on her sixth novel with an August deadline looming. Despite the fame and success of her brilliant writing career, Emily has remained true to her roots, taking the time to return to the Reynolda campus, meet students, sign books, take endless pictures and share her amazing story with the next generation of alumni. I found her feisty, down-to-earth, and she seemed like somebody you would want to be friends with.

Samantha Hoback (’12) is a French major from Roanoke, Va. She serves as co-news editor at Her Campus Wake Forest.

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