LEAP Alumnae Profile: Alex Kohut ’12

Interview by Rebecca Shaw ‘13

Campus Activities:

Russian Club, Tour guide in the Admissions office

What made you decide to participate in LEAP?

I was drawn to LEAP because I was interested in developing a set of leadership tools and skills that I could apply in various situations. I was very excited to become involved in the Bryn Mawr community and I recognized that having so little leadership experience and training, this program would help me to contribute to the community in most effectively. Also, I was intrigued by the prospect of wellness credit.

 What are some key lessons you learned during LEAP? (about yourself, leadership, team dynamics, etc)

It’s been almost three years since I completed LEAP, so the specifics are a little bit fuzzy, but one of the best things I took away from LEAP was all of the experience I gained working with students who were naturally inclined towards different leadership styles. Not just working with such a varied cohort on different projects, but also hearing first hand their ideas on leadership gave me a really great understanding of different approaches and perspectives that I utilize and apply in my everyday life to this day. Also, I really appreciated the speakers we brought in to talk about developing certain professional skills like interviewing, resume writing, and communication. I felt like this provided me with very important information and skills, as well as a certain level of confidence that helped me to be a leader both in the traditional sense and within my own personal life.

What is your proudest accomplishment at Bryn Mawr?

Every time I lead a tour and I see the same excitement that I felt upon visiting Bryn Mawr for the first time in the eyes of a fresh, new prospective student, I can’t help but to feel a certain amount of pride knowing that I had some part in inspiring that. More personally, I feel very proud of the personal growth I’ve made at Bryn Mawr and my academic achievements in the field of Russian, due to which I have received a number of opportunities to represent the Bryn Mawr Russian department at various academic conferences.

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

I think one of the greatest challenges I faced during my time at Bryn Mawr was learning to pick and choose the areas of my life in which I took on a leadership position and learning to think about leadership differently than I was used to thinking about it. I feel that as a student at Bryn Mawr we’re always being encouraged to take on leadership roles and positions. However, after several attempts during my first couple years at Bryn Mawr to take on what I perceived to be “leadership roles” I found myself failing miserably in those positions. It was really hard for me to go through that because the conclusion I drew from that experience was that in spite of all of my training and good intentions, in spite of what I had been told, maybe I wasn’t a very good leader after all. Of course, I have since come to understand that this conclusion is very much false and learned to start thinking of leadership roles.

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?

With regard to my major and career path, I realized during the course of my sophomore year that the class (Russian) I had taken to compliment what I had intended to be my major (political science) ended up being the thing that I was enjoying most. So I decided to double major and eventually I dropped the political science major. As for extracurricular activities, I simply tried everything. I attended all the meetings I could, went to all the events I could manage. I signed up for things, talked to people, read flyers and emails. Of course this method also has its drawbacks in that it’s very time-consuming and very easy to get burnt out. What’s most important is to eventually make decisions and choices.

 What advice would you give to an underclassman?

Try to keep an open mind, ask for help when you need it (including funding) without worrying about what people will think (especially your professors, but also your classmates), and work hard and honestly – put in everything you have, that way people will give you the benefit of the doubt and you’ll find help when you need it.

Also, never give up. One step at a time. Not everything will work out. Sometimes you’ll mess up and there will be no fixing it. Sometimes things aren’t fair. But you can always do what you can and that’s respectable.

LEAP Alumnae Profile Sue Yee Chen ’12

Interview by Georgia Robles ‘15

Campus Activities:

Community Diversity Assistant

A Student Resource Person for the Tri-College Multicultural programs

Member of the Asian Students Association.

Field placement off campus at a charter school in Chinatown as part of Education Minor

Praxis III course as a research intern at Research for Action.


What are your long term goals:

My long term goals involve working for education reform – i.e. making progress in giving all youth regardless of race, class, and immigration backgrounds access to quality public education.

What made you decide to do LEAP?

It seemed like a great opportunity to orient myself to the resources available on campus. I was also excited to learn new and refine existing skills I had so that I would have the confidence to lead a group or club.

What are some key lessons you learned during LEAP? (about yourself, leadership, team dynamics, etc)

A lot of the skills I learned in LEAP were applicable outside of ‘leadership’ roles. I used a lot of the lessons I learned from group dynamic and conflict management workshops in my social life. I learned my strengths and my areas for improvement as a leader. Most importantly, I learned the importance of stepping outside my comfort zone and pushing myself to pursue things I would not have felt comfortable doing without the guidance of LEAP.


 Who were you at the beginning of LEAP, and who are you now? (personal development, as well as “LEAP categories” like artist/warrior/ etc).

I was very much an artist, a quiet leader prior to LEAP. Even in high school, I was very shy and preferred to work behind the scenes. I am proud to say that I am much more confident with speaking and taking on a more present role now. In fact, I think that I have learned how to be aware of team dynamics and adapt my own leadership style to different situations (e.g. being the realistic judge when I am working with a team of explorers or being the warrior when no one on a team is taking decisive action).


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

Overcoming my fear of speaking aloud and with people I do not know. It was a gradual process and like I mentioned before, I really pushed myself to step outside my comfort zone to accomplish it.

 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?

After having done the tri-co program as a freshman, I knew I wanted continue social activism. Sociology was a good fit for giving me a foundation to understand the history, complexities, and tacit social systems that exist in the US as well as an academic perspective on how social change can be accomplished. I honed my interests down to education when I took my Intro Ed class (Critical Issues in Education) and was able to see how social inequality operates in tandem with our education system. I realized that there was a lot of work to be done in that field, and those challenges intrigue and excite me. Plus, I enjoy working with youth.

What advice would you give to an underclassman?

Enjoy everything that Bryn Mawr has to offer you socially, academically, and in terms of funding and internship opportunities! This is a very unique experience and you won’t have the convenience of all these things so accessible to you in your aftergrad life.