Emmalee “Emuhleet” Garrido is a name you’re probably already familiar with. The five-time world champion and captain of Dignitas Fe Valorant and CSGO is a long-time figure in the esports industry. She has carved out an incredible path in esports, but it’s a path that has been anything but easy.

By day, Emuhleet is a nurse. By night, she returns to her duties as a competitive powerhouse. Finding a healthy balance hasn’t always been an easy task.

“When I was working full-time in nursing and practicing with my team at the same time to prepare for any upcoming World Championship Tournaments at the time, my day was always busy,” she told Ritual Motion. “I was getting up at 4am to drive to work in Los Angeles, [and] at 6am I would arrive at work and work until 2pm. Then it was another 2 hour drive back home.

“We would start practice at 4pm and end at 10pm. And since I am the captain of the team my job wasn’t done there. I would stay up til Midnight studying our team, watching vods of our scrims and taking notes to share with the team the next time on what to fix, studying the opponents to figure out how to counter them, and even doing death match to improve my aim, reflexes and hand-eye coordination. I would do this 4-5 days a week.”

Maintaining this schedule required a lot of sacrifice, but it was a labor of passion for Emuhleet.

“People would ask me, how did you do this or find time? I definitely lacked a lot of sleep, but because I was so passionate about wanting to win with my team, I always found energy to bring at practice after a long day of work,” she added. “Being organized and having a schedule was key to this as well. I had to schedule when to shower, when to eat, when to rest off of the computer, etc. We won two World Championships back-to-back like this so whatever I was doing was working!”

Photo credit: Dignitas

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Her dedication to both gaming and nursing has helped create a mindset that not many other people in the esports industry have. Even though she is now with Dignitas full time, she still continues to work and help others in healthcare.

She continued, “With the recent pandemic, I have been looking into finding out how to help vaccinate patients a few days a week, but I am looking for the right job that is only looking for part-time so I can still focus on my team. Hopefully I can help soon!”

For her, nursing is a skill that has also been beneficial to her work in esports and as a leader in the industry.

“One of the skills that us nurses need is being able to think fast, and being able to make a decision even in a hectic or chaotic environment. It’s so crucial being able to think on the fly sometimes. This is one skill that I have brought over to gaming,” she said. “Think about it… I have to be able to make a decision in-game to push forward to eliminate the enemy or fall back, which utility to use and when, and mind you sometimes there is a lot going on around me; teammates could be shouting for help, the enemy is using flashbangs, etc. I really do think being a nurse has helped me in being able to handle these situations. I was also the lead nurse at my job, and I am the leader of my team. So I am always applying my nursing skills whether it’s leading my co-workers to a successful day at work, or leading my troops to a successful win in a match.”

That’s the beauty of esports: All of our skills and talents can be applied as we carve our own paths. Sometimes it’s all about recognizing those skills and persevering. Emuhleet’s advice? Keep going.

“Luckily for anyone looking to find their place in the gaming industry, there are so many different resources, different opportunities, and just different career paths you can take! My advice for you if you are just starting to get into it is build good, genuine friendships with people in the industry, and DO NOT give up if the first thing you want to get into doesn’t end up working out,” she stated.

“If it’s something you are truly passionate about and it makes you happy, keep going at it! When the time is right, you will be where you need to be. If I would have given up 7 or 8 years ago when my first team didn’t work out then I wouldn’t be where I am today!”

While the possibilities are endless, the reality is that finding your way can be difficult in several ways. Despite the way esports have evolved overtime, people are still fighting against barriers that have plagued gaming since its conception. For Emuhleet, it’s no different.

She added, “I think that anyone in the spotlight can face some type of toxicity from a community, and for some people this could make or break you, and it was quite a challenge to learn techniques to deal with these situations. Because I am a woman, I stand out in the spotlight a little more in a lobby full of guys. I definitely think because we are seeing more women competing, the barriers we once had are slowly going away, but it’s only the beginning.”