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Humans of St. Olaf: Maddie Leh

Class: Junior

Major: Sociology/Anthropology 

Favorite class you’ve taken at St. Olaf?

I’ve been lucky to have taken so many great classes, it’s hard to choose! My favorite class that I’ve taken on campus is probably Anthropological Theory with Professor Tom Williamson because it made me think critically about things that I typically take for granted everyday. Tom is so passionate about what he teaches and that made a huge difference for me. My other favorite class is History and Collective Memory in Cuba. Factors that made that such an incredible learning experience were great personal connections, new perspectives on Cuban history, a solid group, and a disconnection from the tech world.

Favorite study spot? 

The tables by the windows at the Cage on a weekend morning

Favorite caf creation?

Rice, beans, salsa, pineapple, and cheese from Tortilla, sautéed onions, peppers, and a Malibu burger from Grill, and peas from the salad bar in a bowl – take another bowl to make a shaker and be amazed!

Favorite dorm decoration?

Probably a trail map from back home.

Favorite St. Olaf memory? 

One of the best nights I had on campus happened last spring. I went to a viewing of a documentary that was about the Rwandan Genocide and was sponsored by the club I co-chair now, Karibu, before having dinner with a good friend and going on a long walk through the natural lands. We then headed down to the Undlin and Wolfe concert at the Art Barn to meet up with some more friends, did some stargazing, and watched The Office.

Favorite picture taken on campus?

(Thorson Hall)

Current favorite song?

“Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill

Favorite smell?

It’s got to be a tie between lavender, the woods after rain, and the smell on top of a mountain in Colorado.

(Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park)

Favorite book:

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder


Have you studied abroad? Where would you like to go?

Last interim, I went to Cuba as I mentioned above. I’m going to Israel and Palestine this January!

(Havana, Cuba)

Is there anything new that you still want to try while on the Hill?

I would love to join a choir next year, take part in the spring triathlon, and go to Diwali among many other things!

What is a community on campus that you feel proud to be apart of and why?

I’m really proud to be part of the OSR (Ole Spring Relief) community. The people who are part of this community inspire me as they give up their spring breaks to help others in need in another part of the country, while being vulnerable and opening themselves up to their peers. It’s a really special group of dedicated and compassionate people.

(Team Get ‘er Done from OSR 11 in Moore, Oaklahoma – 2016)

How do you think you’ve changed during your time here?

The first day of freshman year seems so long ago, yet it feels like yesterday. Since that first day, I think I’ve become more daring. I’ve tried things that I never would have tried just 2 short years ago. I joined Karibu, which was a huge leap for me, but has turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. I tried rock climbing for the first time last semester and I’m now super into it and trying to encourage my friends to join me. I had a mushroom sandwich the other day, and that never would have happened in high school. I’ve also learned to be more flexible with my daily schedule and with my career plans. I’ve realized that I don’t have to have it all figured out and that I can be more open to exploring new options as I learn more about myself and what makes me happy.

(Karibu Group from 2015-16)

All photos taken and uploaded with the permission of Maddie Leh. 

Bridget Olson

St Olaf '18

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