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.



Mae Carlson ’12

interview by Zoe Fisher ’15

On Campus Activities:

Lacrosse, SGA Executive Board (Secretary), Hall Adviser, involvement with Class Dismissed Project.

Key Lessons Learned from LEAP:

You don’t have to be a certain type of leader. People don’t see how many different ways to lead there are, but it’s good to work with people who have different leadership styles and you can really learn from each other.

Who were you at the beginning of LEAP, and who are you now?

Before doing LEAP, I didn’t really know as well who I wanted to be. Not just from participating in LEAP, but also from participating in lacrosse and SGA, I was able to be a person who handled difficult situations better. I have a better perspective of dealing with conflict.

What is one of your most memorable moments in college?

The traditions: May Day, Hell Week, especially as a freshman and seeing the freshmen.

Who is your favorite professor or faculty member?

Elliot Shore. He is very helpful, enthusiastic, and passionate about what he does. I admire the quickness of his decision making.

What advice would you give to an underclassman?

Get involved in things on campus that interest you and enjoy the community that you are in, and the traditions.



Britney Sampson ’12

Interview by Lizzy Lee ’14

What are you involved with on and off campus?


Coordinator for the AVID Tutoring program in the CEO

Parkway west volunteer for the student success block.

What made you decide to do LEAP?

I had a monumental experience at Trico and was advised to participate in this program. I wanted to work on my leadership style and be less grassroots and develop into someone who can lead by herself.

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

Diplomacy!-managerial skills, improved by communication skills with faculty staff and admin.  I learned that I am comfortable working collectively but also capable of leading a group alone as well.

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 an explorer and I haven’t changed really although i can be a warrior when necessary and artist. I guess I have learned how to adapt to all roles if need be.

What is your proudest accomplishment at Bryn Mawr?

The friends I’ve made.

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

Yes, time management. In my previous years i was involved in a lot of campus groups and was forced to stick to a schedule and not stray too far to get things done. Also having to be accountable to people made me be more organized.

What advice would you give to an underclassman?

Do not be afraid to be voice you opinion if it is in opposition to the norm. However, be understanding when doing so- not everyone will be on the same page and sometimes it takes another perspective for people to think outside the box.