20 Under 40: Em Westerlund
Em Westerlund, 34, Duluth
What do you do? (job, community involvement)
Employed at PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault) as a sexual assault nurse examiner program coordinator; first-year law student at Mitchell Hamline School of Law; board member of Lake Superior Community Health Center; Duluth Community Garden Program; Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association; commissioner on City of Duluth Parking Commission
How do you spend your free time?
Getting outdoors. I love camping, hiking, paddling, hammocking and mountain biking. I also enjoy reading, getting sucked into a binge-worthy TV series, and spending time out in the garden.
Tell us about an influential person in your life.
I would say the most influential person in my life is my mom. I get my work ethic, resilience and sense of humor from her. No matter the pursuit, my mom has supported me 100% as I have chased my dreams. I have a lot of gratitude to her for being such a stable and loving presence throughout my life.
Where is your favorite place in Duluth/Superior?
The Sucker River. It's such a gem. There are a lot of sweet little spots along the river to spend an afternoon reading, swimming and enjoying the solitude.
What have you learned in your time spent at home during the pandemic?
I'm more of an introvert than I thought. Perks include extra time with my partner and her kids in our "pod" and working from home has been an unexpected but nice change of pace.
I'm more aware than ever that we are blessed to live in such a beautiful place. There are so many trails to get out on when the pandemic stress gets too big to hold. The solace of Lake Superior is also something I've appreciated through all of the time we've spent hunkered down.
I'm grateful that despite COVID, the seasons continue to change and nature goes on its consistent way without interruption. There is something so comforting about that — a promise that our lives will also someday resume some semblance of normalcy.