Campus Celebrity: Lauren Amhrein '13

Speaking with Lauren Amrhein, one quickly feels as if in the midst of a real-life celebrity. She is a shining example of doing things that are outside of your comfort zone, a mindset she cites as largely important in her Kenyon experience. Lauren has, undoubtedly, warmed your heart (and ears) with her folksy guitar and beautiful voice. Already a member of The Stairwells, Lauren teamed up with fellow senior Michelle Birsky this year to create The Laurels, Kenyon’s very own folk duet. Lauren and Michelle’s beautiful duet “Royals and Rocks” can be heard here, and you can watch more videos on The Laurels’ Facebook page. Read on for more about this remarkable lady!

                                                                                        Lauren appears on the left

Name: Lauren Amrhein (‘13)
Hometown: Mamaroneck, New York
Major: French Area Studies
Minor: Art
Kenyon Activities: Archons (past president), The Stairwells, The Laurels, Kenyon College Equestrian Team

HC: Can you tell us a little bit about The Laurels? (At this point I admit to having watched every video on their Facebook...)
LA: “We actually just recorded a new song! Michelle (Birksy) and I have been friends since freshman year, but we weren’t close yet. She was a Creek, and she had her songs recorded and I had mine recorded, but we never thought to collaborate until we got close as friends last year. We started playing songs together, and I’d play mine and she’d add harmonies I’d never thought of, and I’d add second guitar parts to her songs. I think everything sounds fuller with harmonies and extra guitars. So this year, as part of our senior culmination, we decided to make it a thing! We played several shows last semester and want to make it a priority to have more this semester.”

HC: How did the name “The Laurels” come to be?
LA: “It sounds stupid at first...it was going to be ‘The Laurelles’ because it’s Lauren and Michelle, but then we decided to combine our names and ‘The Laurels’ sounded folksy! Then we found out there’s actually a folk band with that name, so...sorry to them, I guess.

HC: Did you study off campus in your junior year?
LA: “I did! It was sort of untraditional because I went to Montreal first semester. I’m studying Quebec as my area and the distinct identity there as a French country in North America. I didn’t go through a program, I just direct enrolled in McGill and found a French-speaking film-making roommate on Craiglist. I’d never met her, hoped it worked out, and signed up for classes. I did the freshman orientation as a junior and lived freshman year again with no shame. I’m thinking of going back next year.

HC: What’s the biggest thing on your Kenyon bucket list before you graduate?
LA: “A roller derby in Mt. Vernon! I’ve never been skinny-dipping in the Kokosing, so that has to happen, and I do want to do the Coshocton challenge, but I’m partly vegetarian and gluten-free.”

HC: “Biggest pet peeve?”
LA: “The sound of people eating bananas kills me. And I hate passive aggressiveness.”

HC: “Best Kenyon class?”
LA: Last semester, Confidence Game with Lewis Hyde. I love him. He’s a genius and he knew more than anyone. He’s intimidatingly smart and the sweetest thing.

HC: What’s your weirdest or most embarrassing Kenyon moment?
LA: Every Saturday morning I go to the bookstore in shorts in the winter and it’s a little rough. I once also ate shit on Middle Path...

HC: Are you more excited for the Royal Baby or for Kim and Kanye’s baby?
LA: The Royal Baby. If it’s a boy I can cougar it.

HC: If you were stuck in an elevator with a Kenyon professor, who would you want it to be and why?
LA: Kluge! I had him sophomore year and we did crosswords together before class everyday, so as long as we had a compendium of crosswords, we’d be chill there. Plus he’s so snarky. We would have a contest to see who could out-snark the other.

HC: What advice would you give an incoming Kenyon first-year student?
LA: Do what you’ve never done before, and don’t worry about your major. Everyone asks me what I’m going to do with a French major and an Art minor but do what you love. Kenyon students are smart and they all get jobs. Don’t do something because you think it’s required. A liberal arts degree is a liberal arts degree. Take classes outside your major. Take art, take dance. Don’t write people off who you don’t think you’ll be friends with. I’m friends with people now who I hated freshman year.