Catherine Khuu ’14

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LEAP Cohort 6

Political Science/Philosophy double major

Co-Coordinator for Belmont Mentoring Program through the Civic Engagement Office

What made you want to step up as a leader on campus?

I was really involved in community service projects and starting projects of my own back in high school. I wanted to transfer some of my skills and experiences over to Bryn Mawr. LEAP made that possible by providing me with the training necessary to help bring out my confidence, and to shape me to be a better leader. Why Belmont? It was my first year participating in the mentoring program, and the “Coordinator” position opened up. It was a combination of my commitment to the mentoring program, my LEAP training, and a nudge from a friend that I took the “leap.”

How do you think LEAP has impacted your leadership and academic skills?

LEAP has helped me immensely in my position as Co-Coordinator. That’s not to say that LEAP isn’t applicable elsewhere. For me, I really enjoyed the “bus activity/analogy.” Knowing what you need in order to get a project off the ground, but also knowing when to “abandon the bus.”

How do you handle feeling overwhelmed or overburdened by your different responsibilities on campus?

I know I say: “I know what my limits are, especially after all these years!” But, it’s still a learning process. I would like to think that I have “it” more figured out than I did in previous years, but balancing academics and clubs/service projects is still a challenge. I know about myself that I personally like being busy, as opposed to having nothing to do. So, the push-and-pull from all directions is welcome.

How to de-stress: running and hot yoga, or a bowl of avocado fudge, because sometimes it’s necessary to treat yourself.

What is your most memorable LEAP experience, either as a program participant or as an alumnae?

The capstone project. Definitely the capstone project. I chose the AWLU (Asian Women Leadership University) project, and worked with Maggie Xiao. We were tested on the very first day: How do we fundraise for the AWLU initiative if there is no start-up or seed money? So, as a group, we decided to change our goal. Instead of fundraising taking center stage, we organized a paneled-discussion, and invited Professors and the Founder of the AWLU to speak on “Women’s Education in an International Context.”

Have you found that your leadership style has changed since graduating from LEAP? How so?

Back when I started LEAP, I decided that I was a warrior. But years later, I think I’m actually a combination of warrior and artist–conflicting, I know. I still take charge whenever I can, but I’ve come to learn to let go, so that others can lead and learn from their experiences as well. I say artist, because I allow my emotions (i.e. empathy) influence some of my decisions.

What has been your most joyful memory at Bryn Mawr?

Convocation, thus far. Senior year has so many ups!

What was the greatest challenge you have ever faced at Bryn Mawr?

Writing my first Plato paper for Professor Dostal. You would not believe how difficult that was.

What advice would you give to freshmen, sophomore, and junior students at Bryn Mawr?

Take risks now. Enjoy your time here. You don’t know how quickly it goes by.

Bryce Lewis ’16


LEAP Cohort 7

Computer Science major, Philosophy minor

Peer Mentor for Brecon, President of Iron Owls, Portfolio Manager of Owl Investment Group, Tutor at Writing Center, Teaching Assistant for Computer Science Department

In three words, describe your LEAP experience.

Self-awareness, open-mindedness, confidence

What would you say you most appreciated gaining from LEAP?

I gained the ability to recognize that different people have different strengths, as well as discovering that the most efficient way to work in a group is to call on these strengths instead of limiting yourself to a single facet.

What was one challenging thing you learned about yourself or about leadership from LEAP?

Just because other people work differently doesn’t mean they will work worse or better, and often having a group of people that think differently will get you a better result for your group.

You recently took the initiative to start a club, Iron Owls, while on campus. How did the skills that you learned from LEAP aid you in that process?

LEAP helped me understand communicating efficiently and it helped me acknowledge the different viewpoints of my fellow club leaders. Because we all have different viewpoints, our club is a lot stronger.

You participated in LEAP as a freshman. Would you say that LEAP was helpful in adjusting to BMC?

LEAP helped me meet a lot of different people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I think it gives you a greater sense of the diversity of Bryn Mawr, and this diversity prevents you from slipping into a familiar place. In this way, LEAP helped introduce me to Bryn Mawr.

Is there a lesson you learned from LEAP that you would most like to tell your fellow Mawrters?

I would tell others that everyone leads in their own way, and that you have to do your best to work with others while also finding your own style.

Last summer, you did research at Indiana University with computer science. Would you say that LEAP helped you in this experience in any way?

I think LEAP helped me improve my communication and also help me be aware of the differing abilities of others I worked with. I worked on a team with another person, and it was helpful to do work on our own but also get involved with each other’s work and making our different strengths in different areas mesh together.

How have the skills you learned from LEAP helped you as a Peer Mentor?

I think the listening skills from LEAP are important because as a peer mentor, you’re not supposed to tell others what to do, but instead help others make their own decisions. So active listening is very important for this job, and that’s something we went over in LEAP.

You have a lot of leadership positions on campus. What advice would you tell other Mawrters who also want to be leaders on campus?

Be involved in whatever you’re doing: go to club meetings, actively participate, volunteer to help out, and show that you’re enthusiastic and willing to handle responsibility. See what you can do for others and how you can serve the club or organization in the best way that you can, instead of focusing on gaining prestige as a leader.

How do you balance being a leader and having responsibilities with your academic coursework?

It’s a matter of prioritizing what’s important. Honestly, you’re going to have to make sacrifices. Taking on and fulfilling the responsibility you have as a leader may require you to say “no” to other things you would otherwise want to do. Make sure to dedicate enough hours to your leadership position each week.

Last question: what have been your favorite memories at Bryn Mawr so far?

There have been so many! I loved Hell Week, May Day, and all the Traditions. Also, the sense of community at Bryn Mawr is great. I love the first day coming back to campus after a break. Whenever I accomplish something I was challenged by, that’s always a good feeling.

Sowmya Srinivasan ’13

Interview by Faatimah Jafiq ’15


Her Bryn Mawr College Story:
I wanted to stay in the Northeast. When I toured Bryn Mawr, I went with my parents, so it was a very small tour group. My tour guide explained the major traditions of Bryn Mawr. The tour sealed the deal.

What is your leadership involvement on campus (appointed positions, etc)?
-SGA treasurer for 2012-2013.–ChinacCare: helped organize fundraisers for orphaned girls in China –Student Coordinator for PLI

What caused you to step up to these leadership positions?
For ChinaCare my friend started the club and needed some help. Also it was an issue that I cared deeply about. My SGA position started out as a position on the Students Financial Committee and I enjoyed it so much I ran again. It was the first position that got me really involved on campus. I was on the SFC and simultaneously in LEAP.

How do you think LEAP has helped you become the leader you are today?
Leadership is something that has to be learned but practiced. LEAP gave me skills to utilize the tools on campus. I still refer to my LEAP binder.

Which of your activities or involvements do you feel most proud of, or which do you think had the most impact?
I feel most proud of my position as SGA treasurer…it was time consuming but rewarding.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed or imbalanced by coursework and other responsibilities?
Not really, LEAP was a good outlet to help alleviate any stresses that occurred.

What advice would you give to an underclassman?
Enjoy your time here because its not time you will ever get back. Take advantage of all the people and opportunities that are near.

Key Lessons From LEAP:
-The ice breakers come in handy
-The storming, forming, performing, etc…helps you figure out what stage your group is at and makes it easier to go from there

Biggest Challenge While at Bryn Mawr:
Managing to balance social life while getting work done

Most Memorable Moments at Bryn Mawr:
-Helling a professor
-Hanging out during Hurricane Sandy

What is a challenge you faced, and how did you grow from it?
Time management is a challenge I always faced…I took a graduate course and was active on campus. There is no magic formula for managing time. Definitely prioritize and schedule in down time.

Chenchen Peng ’13 Cohort 4

Interview by Esther Tong ’15

Campus activities:

I attended OWL investment group when I was a freshman and a sophomore. I was also on the Plenary Committee during my second year.

The key lessons you learned during LEAP? (About yourself, leadership styles)

It is important that we should stay out of our comfort zone, and we can grow. However, it has been also very important to know where your limit is. Don’t cross that line.

What is one of your most memorable moments in college?

Too many. I will share some of my firsts at Bryn Mawr. The first time that I live and study abroad. The first time I learned how to plan out each semester so that make things function well. The first time that I learned that I need to reach out to the “right” person for help when in trouble. The first time that I learned the school system cannot be perfect. The first time that I learned I have potential. The first time that I learned I have many flaws and work hard so that I can improve myself by a little bit each day. The first time that I learned people have different aspects. They can be nice to many people but be very malicious to some others.

What advice would you give to an underclassman?

Try different things while in college. Be a brave, wise and mature Bryn Mawr woman.

What are your long term goals?

I would like to work in school, or any field that is related to education.


Evelyn Pan ’13 Cohort 4

Interview by Jacy Li ’14

1.    What’s your leadership involvement on and off campus in Bryn Mawr?

 While participating in LEAP during my freshmen year, I started a network called Seven Sisters in China in 2010 ( which aims to bring together women across disciplines to share their experiences and empower future young women leaders. We have successfully held conferences in China every summer for the past three years which brought together 500 people to participate. 

2.    What caused you to step up to these leadership positions?

 My passion for women’s issues and desire to challenge myself have shaped my decision to step up to the leadership position. 

 3.    How do you think LEAP helped you to shape your leadership style today?

 I think in LEAP we talked the about Warrior, Judge, Artist styles of leadership. I learned the strengths and weakness of these positions and I have learned to incorporate the strengths of these positions to help my leadership.

4.    Did you ever feel overwhelmed or imbalanced with the workload here? How did you deal with it?

Yes, all the time but I realized that the most important thing is not the work, is about having fun in the process. If I always think:” oh my god, this is so boring and stressful” then the work would actually be that boring. So I shifted my focus on how tough the workload is to how great I much I had challenged myself and be perseverant. This is a remarkable difference. 

5.    What is a challenge you faced, and how did you grow from it?

I think all challenges come for a reason for me to learn and expand. If I think this way, dealing with challenge is an effortless task. 

6.    What advice would you give to an underclassman?

 Advice to underclassman: Don’t worry too much and enjoy your life here. Expand your mind and go to as many as talks as possible to learn from people who are passionate about their fields. Don’t hang out with your close friends all the time, I know this is uncomfortable, but I learned the most from interacting with people who are very different from me. 


Rebecca Shaw ’13 Cohort 5

Interview by Jacy Li ’14

Rebecca Shaw

1.           What’s your leadership involvement on and off campus in Bryn Mawr?

On Campus
•        LEAP Student Coordinator (January 2012-May 2013)
•        BMC Student Activities Assistant  (December 2011-May 2013)
•        Bi-College News Business Manager (January 2011-December 2011)
Off Campus Experience
•        Maimonides Leaders Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (October 2012- December 2012) [ for more information visit :[]

2.        What type of leader are you?

In LEAP Terms, I would categorize myself as an artist, who is a quiet and a process oriented leader.  I really enjoy the process , in the way I appreciate time for reflection and understanding others’ perspectives.  I am also very deliberative in how I approach projects and leading organizations—I try to anticipate obstacles and have back up plans.

3.        How do you think LEAP helped you to model your leadership today?

LEAP helped me see how understand qualities in my personality that I could use as a leader—the program helped me become more self-aware of what it meant to be an effective leader. The program also showed me that other people have a variety of ways of leading a group, so as I took on leadership roles. I modeled my leadership style with that understanding. I try to help people cultivate their strengths when leading a group or project.

Looking back, I’m grateful that I did this program during my sophomore year, because that was the most challenging year for me.  I had just started a new position as the business manager on the Bi-College News, and the newspaper was enduring some obstacles regarding funding. This occurred when LEAP had its budget management meeting, so I was able to apply what I learned to my position.

4.        As a LEAP student coordinator, what do you feel most proud of about LEAP, or which do you think had the most impact?

I am most proud of seeing the people who go through LEAP grow as leaders—especially this year. This year was the first year that I was able to see a cohort from the beginning to the end, from the outside coordinator position. Going through the program in my sophomore year, I didn’t truly grasp how much a group could grow over a period of time.  It was really nice seeing how LEAP overlaps into other aspects of campus life—like in the classroom or when cohort members support their fellow cohort members in campus activities.
I think going through LEAP had the biggest impact on me—without going through the program, I wouldn’t have considered doing a coordinator position. Since I gained so much from the program, I wanted to give up and help expand and strengthen the program.

5.        What is a challenge you faced, and how did you grow from it?

When I was in high school, the culture of the school and then all the subsequent activities that I participated in (from grades in classes, to extracurricular activities, etc.) felt like a competition with others.  That competitive culture was my challenge. I knew that competition was a part of life.  But I also knew that because of that competitive culture, I needed to work twice as hard so I could obtain opportunities for growth.

When going to college, I knew that at my core, I really just wanted the opportunity to learn for the sake of learning, and I wanted to participate in activities where I could grow as a person. Sometimes the competition with others hindered my ability to take on a role that I knew I could succeed in.   That’s what attracted me to Bryn Mawr College in the first place (and LEAP as well)—I wanted to go to a school where I had the chance to do that. Since my challenge helped me choose a college, and revealed to me what I wanted post-high school,  that’s how I grew from my challenge.

6.        What advice would you give to an underclassman?

My first piece of advice is to try something new each semester that challenges you—whether it be taking a course off Bryn Mawr’s campus,  taking an elective outside your major or minor,  going into Philly more often, participating in a new volunteer activity ,  or taking on a new leadership position (to name a few). You only go through college once, and by doing this you may discover a passion in yourself that you never knew existed.

My second piece of advice is to always know there are others options. By this, I mean if you don’t get a leadership position, internship, class (etc) that you felt for sure was your first choice, don’t be discouraged! There could new opportunities for you that you would have never discovered, if you got into a class or received a position or internship from Plan A.


Shuning Yan ’13 Cohort 4

Interview by Bingqing Li ’14

shuning yan

Which of your activities or involvements do you feel most proud of, or which do you think had the most impact?

By the end of junior year I got really interested in consulting and wanted to potentially pursue a career in this field. However, there is very limited resources on campus related to consulting, especially case practice. So instead of giving up on the idea, I started the BiCo Consulting club with another friend with similar interest. Starting a club wasn’t easy but I’m glad I have been able to see it grow from an idea all the way into a full fledged bi-co club. Apart from just pre-professional training, we are also involving our students to do consulting on campus for some real life consulting exposure.

How did you figure out what you wanted to get involved in? (campus and career) And what you wanted to major in? Was there a pivotal moment?

Major: For me, math was a very natural thing to consider to be majoring in. I have always loved mathematics, especially applied math and modeling. Bryn Mawr also has great programs in supporting woman in mathematical research, so without a doubt I became a math major.

Career: At the end of junior year, I was actually getting really anxious about what to do after graduation and the whole job searching process. I realized finance wasn’t really the area that particularly interested me but I wasn’t sure what other equally challenging field I could do. It’s so funny looking back at how I approached this. I actually did some online personality testing and it turns out I am a good consultant. After doing more research into the field, I realized this is exactly what I have been looking for. A field that is challenging, great learning experience, and best of all, a place that I can make positive impact on businesses and people’s lives. From there I spent the summer preparing myself and was able to land a job in this field.


What advice would you give to an underclassman?

I was say explore your options when you are young. Worrying too much about what to do after college strips away the fun of exploring and finding where your true passion lies. After all, isn’t this the essence of liberal arts education?

Also, I would recommend anyone to read the NY Times or Times magazine to stay on top of what is going on around the world. There is so much more happening than what we see on campus and it is necessary to stay in touch with the rest of the world and truly be a global citizen.

Finally I would say talk with people from different backgrounds. We are enjoying a benefit of having a great diversity on campus and you can utilize this resources to expand your understanding of society.

A final general advice: GO STUDY ABROAD! The picture in the attachment was taken in Burgos, Spain. Traveling helps a person grow in ways that often are surprising, and I must say I had the best semester studying abroad in Spain

Jennifer Jiang ’13 Cohort 5

Interview by Bryce Lewis ’16

Jennifer’s Bryn Mawr College Story:jennifer leap

I came to Bryn Mawr after spending three years at an international school in England. I am originally from China but moved to Singapore since I was 17. I really wanted a small intellectual community whereby I could have a close relationship with my professors and classmates and that’s why I applied to Bryn Mawr. I double major in mathematics and economics but I also took the Sustainability 360 second semester of junior year—a great experience in my 4-year Bryn Mawr career.

 What is your leadership involvement on campus (appointed positions, etc)?

I have been serving as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program co-coordinator for the past two years, stepping up from a volunteer for freshmen and sophomore year. Other than this, I am also a peer mentor and a scheduling supervisor at Collier Science Library.

Sophomore year, I was a customs person and later on I became a member of the Customs Committee.

What caused you to step up to these leadership positions?

I think leadership emerges from every individual. One thing I realized is that to be a leader, you must have a high level of devotion in what you are leading. This means that you are passionate about the cause that you would like to be a leader for. For instance, the two-year experience of my volunteer experience with VITA reinforced my desire to contribute to the neighboring community. Moreover, it ignited my zeal to not only bring change by myself, but also to initiate change in others to keep that change more sustainable. Leaders are drivers for change.

How do you think LEAP has helped you become the leader you are today?

There are two aspects in which LEAP has helped me achieve what I do today.

First of all, it systematically trained me all aspects of leadership, including effective communication, conflict management, and budgeting. It really helped me to regard leadership more fully and discovered all facets of what makes a great leader. In fact, as I got more involved as a student coordinator for VITA, I experienced all of these little details of leadership that I already know about, allowing me to lead more effectively.

Secondly, LEAP taught me to reflect constantly. Leadership is continuous, both for the leaders themselves, as well as for the cause they believe in. There is always room to improve and there are always mistakes that we could learn from.  We evaluate our VITA program constantly and try to incorporate changes every year to make our training program more effective.

Which of your activities or involvements do you feel most proud of, or which do you think had the most impact?

I am really proud of VITA because of my commitment to it. I truly embrace the mission of the program and am glad to see all of our volunteers making such a big impact on the Norristown community—it is a really empowering volunteer opportunity. I am also very happy to see the accomplishment of our dedicated volunteers as they grew with VITA.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed or imbalanced by coursework and other responsibilities? How did you deal with it or prioritize what comes first?

Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed.Yet I also believe that the ability to be involved academically and in extracurricular activities could help me to see my potential. I needed to learn how to manage my time well given all these responsibilities. It actually helped me to be a more efficient person overall. In terms of prioritization, sometimes we need to realize that we cannot do everything to our best because we are doing so many—it’s great to try many things, but at the end of the day, one needs to find an optimal amount of activities that works for herself with her own academic load. There is no magic formula—everyone is just different.

 What advice would you give to an underclassman?

Sometimes, learning how to say “no” is an art. Do make sure to give yourself some downtime and stay fit physically.

LEAP Alumna Update!

LEAP Alumna Zoe Fisher (Cohort 6) obtained an internship in Washington D.C at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for their American Graduate program.

In an email to faculty advisor Vanessa Christman , Zoe wrote ” They actually asked me about LEAP in my interview and I was so excited and told them all about different lessons that we focused on–I wanted to make sure to tell you that!”

Congratulations Zoe!

Reetu Bajaj ’12

Interview by Zoe Fisher ’15

On Campus and Off Campus Activities:

SAW, Customs Person, Hall Adviser, Psychology of Research Internship at NYU, Internship at a non nonprofit that promoted rights for women and at a South Asian Women society.

Long Term Goals:

I’m interested in mental health in children. I would like to get some outside experience before continuing my education and getting a masters in counseling service.

Key Lessons From LEAP:

LEAP taught me about conflict management and made it easier to handle group management with conflicts in a group later when I was so involved in SAW. Also, it taught me the right vocabulary to use when it comes to leadership when you may be talking about your comfort zone or conflict management.

Proudest Accomplishment at Bryn Mawr:

The relationships I have made with people. I don’t know if I will ever get the opportunity to be in such a tight knit community and be close with professors and students all at once.

Biggest Challenge While at Bryn Mawr:

From being an HA, I saw one of my challenges in dealing with other people’s issues. I was so sensitive to other people that I had to figure out how to balance my personal relationship and being a good HA. Although it was a challenge, and that may be a weakness, it was also seen as a strength for me because I was able to be sensitive to other’s issues.

Most Memorable Moments at Bryn Mawr:

Traditions: Lantern night and may day were my two favorites. Praxis III was also memorable because it is really necessary to learn your major outside of books and theories, and I was able to be close with adviser here and supervisor at internship through Praxis.

Advice for Underclassmen:

Don’t get too caught up with work, take opportunities that are given, know what it means to have fun, actively try to get to know a professor that you like.