There are certain people that you meet that are the epitome of success, people that give you an idea of how to balance everything in university, a particularly difficult task at U of T. These people have an incredible amount of extra-curricular activities, they are friends with everyone and STILL manage to ace their schoolwork. You probably have an image in your mind right now of someone you know that is exactly like this. If you’re from New College, the names Sam Kohn and Laurel Chester must sound incredibly familiar.
As if they don’t have a trillion other things to do, these two were also recently appointed as the chairs of New College’s 2012 Orientation Week. Laurel was also recently elected to the UTSU and Sam was recently elected to the New College Student Council as the Male Athletics Director. And that’s not all!
Sam performed his own song called Tarantula Blues in Mosaic, an annual multicultural talent show that occurs at New College, and he was an actor in the Drama Festival’s resurrection of New Faces at Hart House for two years. He has also been a major help in planning Winterfest for three years, works for the Visitor’s Centre as a tour guide, and was a Trooper in during the 2010 Frosh Week and in Coveralls in 2011. He also volunteered at the W.A.T.C.H. Program where he was an assistant teacher and was involved in the U of T Chabad House, and dedicated a lot of his time to the Basketball Intramurals. Sam is a huge advocate for taking on opportunities as you never know where they will take you. He is an open minded kind of guy, he says “This is a school where… if your education is important to you, you shouldn’t be afraid to raise your hand. Even for social things, just say yes to everything.” Sam is an active student because he believes in seizing any moment. Opportunities come and go and it is up to you to actually recognize it.
Laurel is just as active a student. “Every situation that you’re in is another way to meet another person and another way to get involved,” she says. She is on the New College Residence Council as a House Rep and she’s a New College Representative on the UTSU Board of Directors. She was a First-Year Rep on the New College Student Council, and now she’s a commissioner. Furthermore, she is a mentor at the Victoria International Students Association, and she works at the International English Program Camp as a counselor, along with being a tour guide here at U of T. Laurel is very proud of being a student ambassador and dealing with visitors as she is the very first student from U of T that they meet. “I just really like that you have the ability to shape people’s opinions of the University of Toronto, or even Toronto and Canada. You’re their first point of contact, and I think that’s a really cool responsibility.” She finds that the questions that some visitors ask can be quite endearing and she is happy to be an example of a U of T student. I must say, the visitors that get Sam or Laurel as a tour guide really lucked out because not only do they get an example of a student, they get an example of a well-rounded, extremely successful student at U of T!
How do they do it? How do they find the time and effort to be so incredibly active in the St. George community? Well, it isn’t always a walk in the park, they say. These two are nothing short of celebrities on campus, but they are also normal people. And we all know, normal people have bad days. “I think the hardest thing is, I have bad days and I don’t want to talk to anybody. Sometimes, it just sucks that I work so hard to try and work with somebody, and two months later I’m having a bad day and that person is like ‘HEY!’ when I’m just not that enthusiastic. I think everyone has those days,” says Sam. If you’re afraid of being as vigorously active as Sam and Laurel, just remember that they are normal students like you and if they can find the time and energy, you can too!
Both of them say that all their experiences have been extremely rewarding and humbling. They find so much joy in these opportunities that it has become difficult to say no, saying that there aren’t enough hours in the day for them to take every chance they want to take. They find that being a part of so many things elevates them and allows them to absorb more and more knowledge. “The best part for me is… I take pride in being a part of something bigger than myself. It’s like the right pride. You can be proud of contributing to something bigger than yourself, so you’re not proud of yourself like ‘Oh, look at me! I’m so good!’” explains Sam. It is refreshing to see such prominent students be so modest and kind.
Sam Kohn and Laurel Chester are now preparing for Orientation 2012, and they are already on top of the game organizing all Frosh position applications. All of New College is very excited to ring in the 2012-2013 school year with a week run by two of the most fitting Frosh chairs. Laurel is just as excited as all of us, she explains, “I really like seeing that moment when people stop being that terrified first-year, and I know we all were that terrified. I like seeing that transition where all of a sudden you realize you don’t have to be scared all the time and that this isn’t as big an intimidating it seems.” The coming first-years are soon going to realize that the pair that organized their Frosh week are two of the most familiar faces at New College. Sam and Laurel are going to do an incredible job!