Photo courtesy of Springfield College
MAJOR: SPORTS BIOLOGY
Q: First and foremost, what does it feel like to be awarded the most outstanding junior?
A: Honestly, it feels incredible. Especially having my parents there and being a transfer student – I had a really tough freshman year but then coming to Springfield, it’s had a hgue impact on me. Hearing my nomination and just knowing I had an impact on others, that’s always been my goal in life since I’ve been a kid, so being named most outstanding junior, it was just an incredible feeling there’s no other way to describe it.
Q: Let’s talk a little bit about stepping up day and how you found out what it was.
A: Before going to stepping up day this year, I honestly wasn’t sure what it was about. But basically it involves the four classes, they each take a step up. The freshman become sophomores and each grade passed down an object or representation of what that class should be doing in the next year at Springfield. So for one class, it was about service for others and obviously the seniors are graduating so they became part of the alumni association.
Q: Tell me a little bit about what the day consisted of –
A: It started with the actual stepping up day and opening remarks and what it was about. After the remarks they did a thing on the stairs where all the classes stepped up. Then they wanted to announce awards and recognition to student leaders on campus. That’s when they started with the freshman class and what did they did was say a little bit about the nomination and took an excerpt from the nomination and read it aloud to everybody to show what they’re involved with and what they do around campus. After that they would say who won the award because they also mentioned everybody who was nominated – then they said who won it. They said this year’s most outstanding junior was Cameron Labelle, and I was just so shocked because in my excerpt they said I was a student athlete, which I’m not. *Chuckles* They said other stuff and how I’m always smiling on campus, which I loved. All of sudden they said my name and I was just like, wow, that’s awesome.
Q: Yeah you definitely do a lot on campus I always see you involved with so many groups, which brings me to my next question. What’s everything you’re involved in and how did you get started?
A: Well the first thing I want to talk about is NSO because coming in as a transfer student is pretty nerve-wracking because I did have a rough first year. But, I came in and remembered thee summer before sophomore year I was just like, I have to go in with an open mind and put everything I have into this because I’m a firm believer that you get what you put into things. So I get that NSO isn’t for everyone, but it was really important for me because I did put a lot into it and made some of my best friends here, people that I’m living with now and next year. Just from that one weekend and it was crazy to think that one weekend helped make those connections. Then after that, having that base group of friends, it made it easier for me to branch out. I do intramurals and stuff but I became part of my favorite program here on campus, leadership summit. I was nominated to be a participant for that and I loved it and got a lot out of it and I wanted to help other people with it so I applied to become a facilitator and I got that position. Then we just had the summit weekend a few weeks ago and it was probably one of the best weekends of my life – just seeing how it could have an impact on people. Then becoming an NSO leader, being on the other side and watching everybody come together on the first day to the last is just incredible. Then the other leadership group I’m involved in is being a site leader for the BLAST Program, which is an after school program at Brookings Elementary school. We go over and there are groups of kids and Springfield College students and there’s a bunch of activities we do and we help them with homework.
Q: What drives you to do all of these clubs and to be a part of everything?
A: I think for me, ever since I was a kid; I just wanted to leave a positive lasting an impact on people. And whether that’s something as simple as smiling and saying hi to people on campus because, well, I always do that and I love doing it – or if its something like summit where you have more of a deeper impact on people. It’s just, when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor and do this and that and I always loved making people smile, happy and laugh. And the programs I’m involved in, especially not being an athlete on campus, a lot of students are and my friends are. So they always have practice and stuff so that’s when I was like, I want to do something too because it’s a good way to meet people. So that was initially what got me into it but then once I started, like how it started with NSO, you just develop such good connections with people because people that are involved with these programs are some of the most amazing people here at Springfield and it’s been amazing getting to know all of these people because they have such a positive impact on me and I can only hope to do the same to them. So I think that’s the biggest reason that makes me want to get involved with the things that I have – just the positivity that’s spread throughout these things.
Q: What would you say to a perspective student that wants to get involved with NSO, but is a little nervous because obviously it’s not for everyone, and it can be overwhelming. But you’ve had a great experience with it. So what would you say to someone who’s thinking about it but is on the fence?
A: Uhm, I think it’s one of those things where college itself is obviously extremely difficult, it’s a tough transition and so different from high school. Even every college is different being a transfer. My last college was much different than this one. But, I know it sounds so simple, but it’s just a decision. You just have to sit there and say, “I can do this.” So if I were to talk to somebody I would say, “You can do this.” Not everybody, especially the freshman might be as confident yet and it’s really hard to take that first step. So hearing it from maybe an upperclassman that’s been involved with it, saying, “You can do it” and “I can see you doing this,” maybe that will help them give them the push to do it.
Q: How did you get nominated for this award and do you know by whom?
A: Well one person I know who nominated me was my friend Amanda Palladino, who I met through leadership summit. She was a facilitator and I was a participant and this year I was a facilitator with her and she was one of the chairs of the program. And I developed a strong friendship with her and she’s been really important to me this year, she’s had a good impact on me and I’ve learned a lot from her but also she’s been thankful too, because it’s a mutual thing. I’m a huge believer of friendships being a two-way street and apparently she’s learned a lot from me and she appreciated that and went out of her way to fill out the nomination and write a good amount about me and helped me stand out which is an incredible feeling.
Q: When did you find out you were nominated for the award?
A: I found out about a month ago that I was nominated because we had to submit a resume after we were nominated. So we had to submit that and a headshot, just practical things. Then apparently about two weeks ago they made the decision and called all the winners parents so they could be at the ceremony.
Q: Did you all have to write a speech just in case you won?
A: No, I was getting ready for it though just in case because I like to talk. But no, we just went up, said thank you and that was about it. Grabbed the award and took a picture and in reality that was all that was necessary. I can talk forever but there were no need for words in that moment.
Q: What does it mean to you to win this award and how does it make you feel?
A: Happy – and I know that might be cliché but I got home this past Friday for Easter weekend and I remember I was driving home and I’m going to get a little deep on this, but I actually started to tear up a little bit. I was just having one of those moments where I was really thinking, sitting in my car alone, listening to some good music and I was just like, “I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” I talked about this with my parents that night and of course they loved hearing it, and it’s just an incredible feeling to just say, “I’m happy,” and to just know that. Also one of the best things I’ve ever been able to say was that I’m proud of myself. I’ve always wanted to make my parents proud and stuff like that but being able to say, “I’m proud of myself,” is one of the best feelings in the world. This was on Friday then on Monday I come and find out I win this award and it made me realize that things can just keep getting better and yeah, I don’t know. I’m really just happy like this week I haven’t stopped smiling – plus it’s Stiyuka. *laughs*
Q: What does it feel like to be named most outstanding senior?
A: It was a huge surprise because I had no idea what was going on. They told us we got nominated for something so we sent in a resume and then they told us to RSVP for Stepping Up day. I show up and my parents are there because they invited them without me knowing. I had no idea, I knew I got nominated but it doesn’t mean I’d win anything. I want to say it means like an accumulation of everything I’ve put together in the past four years. You know like all the things I’m involved with and the connections I’ve made. I mean, I strive to be someone that other people would want to meet or that I’d want to meet in general. So I think from that philosophy I think that’s what it means to me.
Q: What do you do on campus that led you to be nominated?
A: I think that a lot of things happened this year, the reason why I was nominated this year…I’m pretty sure Shannon Finning nominated me. I’m on her student affairs advisory board. We bring up problems that other students have and we present them to her and then we bring in whoever is charge of that area, voice our concerns and relay it back to the students. Then being on the executive board for NSO was a big thing. That was a full year of planning for four days, which was absolutely insane, but was so much fun. I’m also on the student rep for the new general education review committee and I played basketball for two years and ran track for four.
Q: What did the day consist of and leading up to the award, they called your name, what was your reaction?
A: Well getting there, the back of alumni is gorgeous. So I left all my stuff in the union and walked over. They had everyone sitting down and started going through the awards but as soon as I saw my parents I knew I was winning some award because why would they invite parents for nothing. Shannon read my nomination, extremely humbling to hear what she had to say. Then they did a couple more things like passing the artifacts, taking off the beanies, then our senior class got inducted into the alumni association, which means we’re old.
Q: If there’s a perspective student that wants to get involved in things, what do you tell them coming into college?
A: Like everyone says, just get involved with things. But, I think that getting involved in things you necessarily don’t think you would want to do because I never thought that I’d be an orientation leader and or even want to be. But being one then being on the executive board completely changed my life. That’s not something I was originally going to do. I was going to track and basketball but I’m already involved with them. So trying something new and building a passion off of that is what I’d tell people to do. Just giving something a try because it could end up being something you’re passionate about.
Q: When you first meet someone, and obviously you try to bring the most out of someone – how do you approach that?
A: When I first meet someone I really like to listen about who they are and give them the listening ear. I feel like a lot of people listen to reply rather than to understand and I think that being able to try and understand someone and making someone feel important and valued is a huge part in building a friendship.
Q: What’s the next step for you after you graduate?
A: I’m coming back here for two years in the exercise physiology graduate program.
Q: *Jokingly* Can you win….best graduate?
A: *Laughs* I could try! But hopefully I can influence more people because I’m teaching a graduate fellowship in the biology department. So I’m teaching anatomy concept labs to freshmen and I’m so excited. I like teaching and I really enjoy freshmen because I think it’s really fun to influence them and teach them life skills in addition to anatomy.
Q: Can we talk about how you’re so passionate when it comes to expressing your opinions on certain things? You don’t hold yourself back on anything and I think it’s great.
A: Well my step into the feminism section in my life is fairly new. Growing up I always wanted to be one of the guys because that’s generally accepted and that was always a thing. Then I came here and met people who are into it (feminism) and are really passionate about it. They propelled me to go forward it and once I could start thinking independently about the matter, the women’s march was a no brainer. I skipped a meet because I wasn’t able to compete indoor and my coach let me go and she was glad I was going. I think it’s hard to talk about because my whole thing is really like micro-aggressions – things that are woven into our diction and our vocabulary that you don’t even realize you’re saying but we do and you don’t realize it until someone points it out. The hardest part is stuff that irritates me so much and I’m so attuned to hearing them and your friends say it all the time and you’re like, “How many times do I pick this battle?” because you don’t want to piss them off but you have to stand up for it and its really hard. So finding that happy medium is really difficult. So I do pick my battles, sometimes I let it slide and sometimes I don’t and I think it’s important to not get angry at people who do that because they don’t know. Especially if they’re a male and you’re coming at them from a female perspective and they don’t understand because they don’t live that life. Just like any oppression deal and being on the privileged end of it is hard, even if you’re a great empathizer it’s hard to understand. One of the other harder concepts is, the whole feminist movement isn’t just for females rising above males, it’s about equality and gender. I was in Vagina Monologues in addition to going to the Women’s March and a lot of things we talked about is getting males to be better versions of themselves. So, like, emotion shown by a male is not supposed to be weak. Things that are stereotypically not masculine shouldn’t be a thing.
Q: Doing things like this isn’t something you can put on a resume, but everybody knows how involved you are with these issues. So do you think you’re feelings towards your opinions helped you win this award?
A: I think it definitely makes me who I am. If that helps other people break out of their shell or think independently, and if I’m not scared to talk about it then maybe other people will be more comfortable so yeah, I think it adds to me because it’s a part of me. So if people are influenced by me at all in any capacity then that’s a part of me and they’re going to hear about it and hopefully become more comfortable with it so yeah, I think that might