My most cherished Bucknell friendship was with the late Katherine “Kate” Miller ’16, my whip-smart and bubbly friend and fellow art lover. As an Arts Merit Scholar intent on furthering my classical ballet training, I met Kate shortly after we arrived at Bucknell when we both enrolled in Professor Er-Dong Hu’s ballet class. We quickly bonded over our love of pugs and daily readership of our school’s Message Center digest.

By sophomore year we were not just friends but roommates. When I told Kate that I wanted to study Mandarin and double major in international relations and East Asian studies, without missing a beat, she said, “Emmy, that’s the thing about you: Once you set your mind to something, you go out and do it!”


That year, Kate, an art history major, would often return to our Vedder Hall room to find me bent over my desk scrawling hundreds of Mandarin characters. She was always eager to offer words of encouragement — and it was not lost on Kate that despite my appearance as an Asian American, this was my first encounter with Chinese culture. I was adopted from China as a baby and raised in an Italian American household in New Jersey.
Emily Meringolo painting
Photo: Angel Luis de la Cruz
Emily Meringolo ’16 knows that the late Katherine “Kate” Miller ’16 would champion her new career as an artist.
During spring semester of our senior year, I returned to campus, having graduated a semester early and completed a Hatha Yoga teacher-training course in India over winter break. Kate attended all of my community yoga classes in Tustin Hall, always in the front row and chanting “om” with great enthusiasm.

After Bucknell, Kate moved to New York, and I pursued an M.A. in political theory in Shanghai on a Chinese government scholarship. When not reading the canons of Western political philosophy, I was an intern focused on corporate social responsibility at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai as well as at the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing.


Back in the U.S., I began working as a publicist in New York. In December 2019, while at my cubicle at Stanton Public Relations and Marketing, I received the worst news of my life: Kate had been killed in a traffic accident. I was horrified and heartbroken. Then the pandemic began. I accepted a new role at Gasthalter & Co. focusing on activist campaigns, one of which led to the appointment of three climate activists to the board of directors at Exxon Mobil. Even with this historic win under my belt, I felt unfulfilled.

Fortunately, during the pandemic, I discovered a passion for art. Last spring, on a whim, I submitted my first portfolio of abstract expressionist-style work to Galeria Leyendecker in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, for consideration for their summer art-residency program, past participants of which include contemporary American artist George Condo. I was astonished to receive the news that I had been accepted as that year’s artist-in-residence. Last summer, my show Mummies Mimetic Desires opened at the gallery.

I am often amused, thinking how Kate would react with delight if she were here to see my work and my newfound passion. Today, my work is sold at art fairs in Europe and North America, and I am continuing to pursue a career in art so that I may leave a legacy as a New York artist.

Meanwhile, Kate has left her own legacy at Bucknell, through a fund that Lane deCordova ’16, the Miller family and Kate’s fiancé, Anil Prakash ’08, established in her name. Donations were used to create a living memorial — the Kate Miller Art Studio in Holmes Hall, the new home for the Freeman College of Management and the Department of Art & Art History.

The incredible outpouring of support for keeping Kate’s memory alive is a testament to my preternaturally happy friend who loved art. I am encouraged that future generations of Bucknellians will be able to develop art in the Kate Miller Art Studio for years to come.

Emily Meringolo ’16 was an Arts Merit Scholar in dance and a member of the Bucknell Dance Company. She now lives in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City where she pursues a career as an artist.