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Voices of ACES Blog

Carrying Forward: Emma Hawkinson's Illinois Family Legacy

Emma Hawkinson in Caterpillar machinery
Emma Hawkinson, senior majoring in Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Illinois spirit flows deeply in the Hawkinson family! Meet Emma Hawkinson, a proud fourth-generation Illinois student, who carries this legacy with passion. For Emma and her family, the connection to Illinois is not a coincidence, but rather an intentional choice by each individual.

Despite the family ties, Emma’s parents never forced their alma mater on her or her siblings. This freedom allowed Emma to develop her own love for the university, which made all the difference to her.

Emma is a senior majoring in Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) with a minor in Crop and Soil Management where she stands out due to her determination to bring a new perspective to the field, incorporating creativity and attention to detail.

Growing up in Galesburg, Emma’s upbringing surrounded by agriculture fueled her desire to make the industry a better place. With a wide variety of endeavors, the Hawkinson farm includes a cow-calf operation, corn, soybeans, cover crops and a recent transition away from hog farming. This has provided Emma with firsthand experience and knowledge regarding the complex nature of the agriculture industry.

Driven by her passion for farmers, Emma’s career goal is to innovate solutions that simplify the lives of farmers. “Farmers are the hardest working people I know, and I have so much respect for them,” she said.

For Emma, attending college was not only a personal aspiration, but also a continuation of her family’s legacy. Raised with the belief that higher education would transform her into a better version of herself, Emma acknowledges the impact her college experience has had on her personal growth.

Beyond her academic endeavors, Emma carries on her family’s legacy through her involvement in the 4-H Cooperative Sorority, a commitment she shares with her mother. Emma showcases the values of service and leadership in her roles within the sorority including secretary, recruitment chair and chaplain. 

On campus, Emma is an active member of several organizations including the Student Advancement Committee, the Illini Navigators, Illini Pullers and as an ABE ambassador. Through these roles she advances her network and stays involved.

Upon graduation in May, Emma plans to begin working for Caterpillar in their Engineering Rotational Development program in Peoria. Through this program, she will gain insight across different facets of the business, deepening her expertise.

Reflecting on her college experience, Emma offers advice to future students: “Give yourself grace and take a look at the bigger picture.” With this perspective, Emma has navigated her academic and personal journey with poise, resilience and commitment to advancing the agricultural industry.