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Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Miss Purdue 2014 is using her voice to empower kids through a children's book series.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- Emily Mishler is on a mission to make a worldwide impact. She wore the crown as Miss Purdue in 2014 and her journey starts right here in West Lafayette.

"In 2010, I started my quote on quote 'Purdue Journey.' I ended up attending Purdue went completely undecided and got really involved in the Greater Lafayette area while I was there just because I was curious," said Mishler

Mishler's curiosity led her to participate in a number of organizations on and off-campus. She eventually decided to study communications and design. While she said all her college experiences have played a role in where she's landed today, she's particularly grateful for the Purdue Foundry business development service.

"Something that was transformational for me was getting involved in Purdue's entrepreneurial kind of community through the Purdue Foundry," said Mishler. "I was curious about starting my own company at that point, I was very interested in learning the ins and outs of that but didn't really feel like I had any form of a business foundation to pull from."

After graduating from Purdue in 2014 she went on to get a Master's Degree at the University of Notre Dame. From there, she started her own consulting company and began her career authoring a series called Esmé the Curious Cat.

"She's called Esmé the Curious Cat for a reason," said Mishler. "She's driven by an insatiable curiosity, she is very culturally ambiguous so although she doesn't necessarily have a home, she's at home everywhere."

Esmé the Curious Cat travels the world trying different cuisines and going on adventures to learn about different cultures. Mishler's target audience are readers in grades Kindergarten through 4th grade. She said the main message of her books is to show how we're more alike than we are different as people. This is a lesson Mishler learned after traveling herself.

"I realized that a lot of the lessons that I was learning, they were not only similar but they were the same despite different cultures," said Mishler. "I think sometimes that we're shown so much difference all over the world, and so much difference within the context of the everyday lives that we live or the opportunities that we have, and I realized there was a really beautiful opportunity to shine some light on the things that make us the same."

Mishler authors under the name EM Valentine. For her, these books are not about getting credit but rather empowering the next generation to make and follow their own paths.

"At the end of the day this is all about empowering kids to speak for themselves as well and empower those who are reading our books to really understand and learn the value of their own voices and that does not require me speaking," said Mishler. "I don't equate my bringing these books to life with my needing to be in the spotlight."

Find Esmè the Curious Cat here:

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