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Putting the “E” in Empathy— A Syft Exclusive Interview with EMUHLEET

Leading one of the most skilled esports teams on the scene and caring for patients in need of help is all in a day’s work for Dignitas Female captain and mental health nurse EMUHLEET. Our Syft team had the incredible privilege of sitting down with the elite (read: “eh-leet”) pro to discuss her passion for gaming, her passion for nursing, and all the space in-between.

Putting the “E” in Empathy— A Syft Exclusive Interview with EMUHLEET
Putting the “E” in Empathy— A Syft Exclusive Interview with EMUHLEET 7

Emmalee Garrido, best known as EMUHLEET, is a professional esports player with a focus on first-person shooters, most notably Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant. While successful in both games, the team has accrued a long line of victories in CS:GO, including their most recent achievements of 1st place at the 2020 Super Girl Gamer Pro Championships and 2nd place at the DreamHack Showdown Winter 2020: North America. EMUHLEET and Dignitas Female have served as pioneers of female representation in esports through their hard-earned victories and triumphant careers.

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Image courtesy of Intel Extreme Masters

Easygoing and joyfully passionate about gaming and esports, EMUHLEET’s tireless effort and enthusiasm have transformed her into the accomplished figure she is today. In light of her successful career as a professional gamer, we decided to go back to where it all started.

EMUHLEET’s initial interest in video games kindled during her childhood days of watching her older brother play on a Nintendo 64 console with his friends.

“I, of course, wanted to play because I’ve always had a very competitive spirit,” she said, describing how she fell in love with the first-person shooter James Bond game GoldenEye 007. She and her brother, like any siblings, would fight over the game. 

“I was always just a very competitive person; I played soccer, I was competing in dance; so coming into gaming, I brought [the] competitiveness right on over. Me and my brother would always compete against each other in GoldenEye,” she said. These touching roots are what would eventually lead her to becoming one of the most decorated esports players and professional gamers in the industry. 

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Image courtesy of @EMUHLEET on Instagram

With so many achievements under her belt, EMUHLEET’s work is not limited to just esports. In addition to her incredible gaming career, she also works as a nurse who specializes in mental health. Nursing and esports, while largely different from one another, both undoubtedly require significant time and effort. However, driven by her deep love for both professions, EMUHLEET diligently balances these two careers, citing strict organization and schedule optimization as keys to her busy, productive lifestyle. She went on to talk about how her experiences in both nursing and professional gaming often cross over, ultimately enhancing her performance in each respective role.

“I was the head nurse of where I was, so as nurses, we have to be able to think fast [and] make quick decisions,” she said, “Being able to think on the fly is crucial. This is one skill that I’ve brought over to gaming.” As leader of her esports team, EMUHLEET effectively takes from her experience as a head nurse in a fast-paced environment, underlining the importance of quick-thinking and decisiveness. 

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Image courtesy of @EMUHLEET on Instagram

She explained, “In the game, I might have to be able to make a decision to push forward to eliminate an enemy, or fall back, [consider] which utility [you have] to use and when, and mind you, there might be a lot going on around me, right? My teammates might be shouting for help, I might be getting flashed by the enemy, so I really do think being a nurse has helped me [to be] able to handle these types of situations.” Moreover, it certainly goes both ways as she also carries her experiences in gaming over to nursing. She voiced her goal of combining these two passions of hers, aiming to use video games as a way to help individuals struggling with their mental health. She recounted a particular moment which would go on to inspire her ambitions: 

“I had a patient who came in to take his medication and he was really struggling and having a tough time, and I noticed that he had an Overwatch League hat on, and I was like ‘Okay, this is my chance to kind of brighten up his day, let him know I’m here for him.’ So I started to talk to him about Overwatch, and I don’t think I had seen him smile in over a month. He just had the biggest smile on his face talking to me about gaming. This was the moment that I knew that I could really apply my gaming skills to nursing,” said EMUHLEET. 

With our conversation shifting to mental health, EMUHLEET shared with us the personal motivations which drive her to help those who struggle with mental wellness.

“So, I was one of those people. Before I started to compete and play on big stages, I definitely struggled with severe anxiety myself,” EMUHLEET said. “Six, seven years ago, I never even would’ve [dreamt] that I would’ve been playing on a big stage in front of hundreds of people, or talking at a panel in front of people on a stage—alone. I always tell people that gaming has really kind of helped me with my anxiety and mind you, some days I do still struggle of course, but I’ve definitely really improved with it,” said EMUHLEET.  She reflected that her strong ability to empathize with patients on a deeper level came from these experiences. 

As we discussed mental wellness, we inevitably came to the subject of the COVID-19 virus. EMUHLEET vehemently voiced her desire to help as much as possible during the pandemic, especially with regard to the mental distress many have suffered due to isolation and financial uncertainty. 

“Talking about mental health is important to me, especially during these times,” she said. She jokingly noted gamers were already preparing for something like this, referencing their general indoor lifestyle. In acknowledgement of the non-gaming spectrum of individuals, including her loved ones, she shared her thoughts. 

“I try to give them suggestions on how they can cope with this [the pandemic]; a lot of people during a pandemic can struggle with their anxiety or depression because they’re alone at home.” As per her expertise in understanding mental health and the benefits of video games, EMUHLEET acknowledged the potential of gaming media in becoming a coping mechanism for the atmospheric stress of things like a pandemic. Determined to one day achieve her dream of creating a successful amalgam between nursing and gaming, EMUHLEET once again demonstrated her strong will to help others. 

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Image courtesy of Dignitas

As we brave the tough times of today, EMUHLEET proudly touched upon the remarkable ability of esports to bring people together. She discussed that while people may face hardship and difficult obstacles, something like esports can provide relief from the noise of daily life as well as bring people into a space where they’re surrounded by their passions and by others who share these interests.

“People who, before, would never even leave their house because they were struggling so [badly], are leaving their homes to go to this tournament to watch their favorite team, cheer them on, AND meet friends who they’ve met [with] online,” she said, emphasizing the positive impact of competitive gaming. While in-person events have been placed on hold since the pandemic, EMUHLEET expressed her desire to experience these live competitions once again. As for her 2021 resolutions and goals, she hopes to achieve more victories with her team.

“We’ve already won multiple championships in CS:GO, so we want to be the first all-women’s team to win two world championships in two different game titles. We’re hoping that one day, either this year or next year, a tournament will be announced for Valorant and we hope to take the win.” said EMUHLEET. 

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Image courtesy of @EMUHLEET on Instagram

With a drive to achieve her goals and a humble, sincere attitude, EMUHLEET stands as an inspirational figure to all women, gamer or non-gamer. It’s no wonder she has “Elite” in her name. We at Syft wish EMUHLEET and Dignitas Female the best as they rigorously work hard to continue their path to success in esports and wish EMUHLEET fulfillment as she continues her endeavors in the medical field. 

To see EMUHLEET’s Twitter and Twitch as well as Team Dignitas’ Twitter, click here, here, and here.

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