Senior, Richard Montgomery
For Emily Tian, writing poetry is an
opportunity to crystallize abstract ideas in
a few stanzas, reflect on life, and create a
powerful connection with others.
“People can read my poetry and feel they,
too, have something in common with me,”
says Emily, whose work has been published
in more than a dozen literary magazines and
has won national and international awards.
When reading poetry, she says it’s essential
to respect the poet’s voice. “It doesn’t matter
if they are long dead from the 17th century, I
don’t judge the author for being who they are
in their poetry,” she says.
A senior who’s enrolled in the International
Baccalaureate program at Richard Montgomery
High School in Rockville, Emily is editor-in-chief
of the school newspaper, The Tide, plays on the
varsity lacrosse team, and is known among
teachers for her natural curiosity.
“It’s refreshing to have kids who don’t
just want to know what’s on the test,” says
Charles Goetz, Emily’s IB physics teacher.
“Emily really works hard and is so well-
rounded. … She’s going to go very far in life.”
In addition to her passion for writing
poetry, Emily, 17, has been fascinated
by the law since elementary school.
The North Potomac teen is founder and
president of Richard Montgomery’s Student
Legal Association, and is an advocate for
criminal justice reform. She has completed
internships at the state’s attorney’s office
and the Office of the Public Defender in
Montgomery County. Emily competes on her
school’s mock trial team and is a volunteer
for the county’s Teen Court, where she
recommends consequences for juveniles
facing charges ranging from shoplifting to
Through Teen Court and her internships,
Emily says she’s gained a new perspective
about the legal system and is considering
becoming a defense attorney. “You take
people who often don’t have much of a
voice at all in their circumstances—maybe
they’ve committed a crime or made a big
mistake,” Emily says. “Being able to stand
in for them and communicate their stories
and their histories in a way that helps uphold
the integrity of the entire judicial system, I
think is something that’s really noble and an
Her ultimate goal? “I’d love to end up as a
judge,” she says.