About me


My name is Emily.

I am a writer, poet, activist, photographer, artist, and an undergraduate student.  I currently study at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Communication and minoring in Fine Arts.  During the school year, I also work part-time at Penn Closet—Penn’s student-run thrift store—as the Director of Marketing.

I publish my writing and poetry pieces on Instagram regularly.  Since November 2018, I have also been writing for Thought Catalog, after being contracted as a Contributor for the platform.  My most popular work on the site, “I’m Sorry I Hurt You When I Was Hurting,” has been shared over 5,400 times since its publication.  My poems have also been published in several literary magazines and literary platforms, including The F Word and Silver Leaf Poetry.  My articles and creative non-fiction pieces have also been published on platforms such as Safe Kids StoriesThe Mighty, and WQHS Blog.

My Photography journey started in elementary school, but it wasn’t until late 2018 that I began to take photography seriously.  Prior to that, my experience in photography was limited to documenting my life and to taking photos that assist in my poetry work (see Poetry & wordvomit.etc for examples).  Currently, I am a staff photographer for Penn Appetit, and I shoot street photography during my downtime.  I mostly shoot on a DSLR and my smartphone, though I do occasionally shoot on film & disposable cameras.

As an activist, I devote myself to raising awareness and advocating for mental health and LGBTQ+ issues.  I started my LGBTQ+ activist work in the summer of 2014, and my mental health work in early 2016.  My previous work include working with The Mighty in 2016-2018 on their annual Mental Health Awareness Month campaign, starting my own Pride Month movement/pledge, and joining Phillips Exeter Academy’s Gay-Straight Alliance.  Currently, I am the Storytelling Coordinator & PMHA Mentor for Project LETS at Penn and the Marketing Director of QPenn.  I also dedicate my time outside of these organizations to advocate for these causes, using my own platform to raise awareness and taking initiative to continue educating myself on these fields.  My activist work extends beyond those two fields.  I am also very vocal on certain social and political topics, including toxic masculinity, environmentalism, “effortless perfection”, increasing voter turnout, etc.

You can learn more about me on my personal website, emily-yao.com, or via LinkedIn.