Campus Cutie: Elise Szabo

Meet this week’s Campus Cutie: Elise Szabo! Elise is a freshman philosophy major from Canfield, Ohio.  

HerCampus: So Elise, what are you involved with on campus?Elise Szabo: I do quite a bit! I’m the treasurer for the Students for Sensible Drug Policy. We do things like sign petitions for legalizing medical cannabis in Ohio and we spread awareness about different harm reduction techniques and drug safety. One of our slogans is: “Handcuffs don’t cure addiction” and we are trying to spread more awareness about how addiction is a public health issue that needs to be solved. We’ve got a long way to go before heroin addicts are viewed as more than just criminals. The answer isn’t putting addicts behind bars and that mindset is beginning to change. I’m also in the Philosophy Club and have been attending College Democrats meetings as well. And next semester I’m going to be a Student Success Leader for an FYE course!

HC: Wow, you’re pretty busy! What do you spend your free time doing?ES: I do a lot of reading! And homework. I try to be involved here on campus with different club activities. I’ve also been going to beginner yoga classes and I’m involved in a few choirs. Salem Youth Chorus is one of them. 

And this isn’t really free time, but I also work. I sing in churches on the weekends. I work like two hours a week and it’s just singing which I love to do anyways so it’s the best job ever. When I’m not doing all that stuff I like to cook and experiment in the kitchen with different vegan options.

HC: What do you enjoy most about Kent State University?ES: I absolutely love all my professors! They seem genuinely passionate about what they’re doing and care about the students. I’ve been really lucky with my professors because some people have told me about some pretty bad ones. Also, the campus is beautiful and downtown is very cute! And it’s got a really cool vibe. The people I’ve met here rock, but overall, I’d say the classes and the teachers have had the biggest affect on me. I feel at home here and I just love it.

HC: With a major like philosophy, what’s your dream job?ES: I’m not really sure right now, but I have some ideas. I’ve always been interested in philosophy, and now that I’m here I feel secure in studying it. Recently, I’ve been thinking more about going to grad school and becoming a professor. Also, I think it would be really cool to write children’s books about philosophy and critical thinking because philosophy isn’t really something people get into until they’re much older. I’d love to see people get into critical thinking at a younger age. There’s this idea that all philosophers are old men with old ideas, but they’re not. Philosophy is still thriving today and it applies to younger people, too. I’d love to be a part of that philosophy community and way of thinking and try to encourage younger people to be a part of it, too. It’s important that children are taught to think about things. If nothing else, vagabonding looks like a really good back up plan.

HC: What’s your favorite song and band?ES: I’ve been really into the bands Alt J and Tame Impala lately. My favorite song is a classical song: “Agnus Dei” by Samuel Barber. It’s so beautiful.

HC: What’s something your really passionate about?ES: The ethical treatment of animals. I think that’s something I have a big passion for. I’ve been a vegetarian for about a year and a half and I’ve recently made the switch over to being vegan. I try to look for make-up products that don’t test on animals and also I avoid buying leather and fur. I don’t feel guilty anymore about what I’m consuming and that’s a huge mental weight that’s been lifted.

HC: And your biggest pet peeve?ES: When you’re passing someone and you smile or say hi and they don’t return it.

HC: Being a vegan, what’s your favorite food?ES: I love pineapple! And vegan, Mediterranean options like hummus and falafel.  

HC: I know this hard given your love of all animals, but if you had to choose one, what would be your all-time favorite animal?ES: That’s such a difficult question because they’re all so cute, but I’d have to say elephants!

HC: So, have you noticed any changes in yourself since high school?ES: Most of my changing went on during high school. In fact, I was voted “most changed”, but since then I’ve been doing what most kids do in college. Like figuring out what it’s like to be independent and responsible for my own self. I will say I’ve become a lot more studious. I complained a lot about my classes in high school, but I don’t do that anymore.  It’s because I’m genuinely interested in school now. I find myself getting a lot more into my classes and even reading beyond the assigned readings. I’m more intellectually involved now where as in high school I was pretty intellectually passive. 

HC: What’s something interesting about yourself?ES: I never know what to say when people ask me this. I usually tell them I have a black belt in karate, but I don’t think that’s all too interesting….oh! Okay so growing up I was always following others blindly instead of really thinking through why I was doing what I was doing. I’ve done a really good job of changing that and changing my overall outlook to really examine what I’m doing and why. That’s not really something interesting about me, but that’s what I’m most proud of. I went from having a very limited view of the world and of other people to now be able to analyze what I’m doing. 

HC: What do you hope people take away from this interview?ES: I think the most important thing when dealing with other people is having a sense of compassion towards them. Like really understanding that you don’t know other peoples circumstances. We’re all in this together and you could wish the best for yourself and the best for another person at the same time. A quote I really love is: “We’re all just walking each other home”.  We were all put here and one day we will return to wherever you believe we came from. When you look at it big picture like that it’s really hard to justify being mean to people. So try and remember to take a step back next time you’re mad. Remember that we’re all put here to help one another out and that essentially we’re all just walking each other home.