Emily Woods Harding - 2002

Did you know Columbia Independent School almost selected the frog as its mascot?

Emily (Woods) Harding, a member of the first graduating class of Columbia Independent School in 2002, recalls being part of the group that chose the school mascot. The final two candidates were the frog and the lion. Thanks to Emily and her classmates, we’re proud to call ourselves CIS Lions.

Emily attended CIS from 1998-2002 and went on to attend Princeton University. She pursued an undergraduate degree in History and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She spent eight years in management consulting, three years in human resources, and now is in her first year of market research.

 Emily and her husband, Dan, in Estonia.

Emily and her husband, Dan, in Estonia.

She has challenged the thinking of leaders at many of the world's biggest companies and improved the decisions they make. Looking back to her first big paper at CIS (on Jack the Ripper!), she is thankful for how dedicated her CIS teachers were to helping her improve her critical thinking skills. It was a "light bulb" moment, and just one example of the many times her classmates and teachers at CIS challenged her. Critical thinking seems like a fluffy skill, she says, but it truly has driven her academic and professional success.

Emily says she did so many fun things at CIS that it’s hard to remember all of them. “Cheerleading at CIS was a lot of fun, and it helped me go on to cheer at Princeton. A few weeks ago, after twenty years, I finally parted with my ragged 1998-1999 CIS cheerleading t-shirt that had all of our names on it.”

Emily has some advice for current CIS students. “In high school and college, learn as much as you can about yourself. What types of activities do you truly enjoy? What are you really good at? What careers are out there that might be right for you? What type of people make you feel the best about yourself?”

 Emily and her dog, Eli, snuggling on the couch!

Emily and her dog, Eli, snuggling on the couch!

After twelve years in DC, Emily moved to St. Louis last year with her husband, Dan. She spends most of her time playing with their puppy, Eli, exploring St. Louis, traveling to different parts of the world, and getting back into golf.

“My hundred other little memories generally come down to how tight-knit the community was. When we celebrated accomplishments, disagreed, faced uncertainty, or just hung out before class, we were all in it together.”