Laura Kahu ’23 began her time on campus intent on, she says, keeping her head down and doing what she needed to do. Four years later, Kahu is the school’s senior prefect, a DEI prefect, and a leader for the student activities board and the Black Students Union. Here, Kahu talks to the Bulletin about how the support and community she found at Brooks helped her reach unexpected heights.
1. What does being our senior prefect this year mean to you?
When I first got to Brooks, I was a loner. I was really quiet and wasn’t into talking to other people that much. But, this place really does something to you, and I decided I’d love to be a part of this community in a really significant way. I was so excited to be asked to be a school prefect, and I was giddy and on the edge of my seat when Mr. Packard asked me to be the senior prefect! I care about this community in a way I never thought I could, and being senior prefect has been a great opportunity for me.
2. How is Brooks different from other communities you’ve been a part of?
The people here are welcoming and nice, and being here makes me feel warm in a way I never really expected to. To be honest, I live in New Jersey, and people from the tristate area are notorious for being a little cold. If I said hi to everyone I passed on the street in New Jersey the way I say hi to everyone I pass here at Brooks, people would think I was crazy. Saying hi here at Brooks feels normal, because it’s something loving and caring and it mirrors the space we’re in. But as soon as I go home, I realize that this is not something that’s everywhere; it’s something that’s only at Brooks.
3. When was the first time you felt that you were really engaging with the Brooks community?
It was my third-form year, when I played the role of Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast,” that year’s winter musical. I have always loved singing and performing. The arts are my happy place. I didn’t expect to get such a large role as a third-former, and I recognized that I had been given the opportunity because [Director of Theater Meghan] Hill believed in me and thought I was good enough. So, I really had to put my best effort into it, and that’s the mentality I’ve taken into everything I’ve done at Brooks, from my work with the BSU and CAB to my role as senior prefect. I have the opportunity to do something great, and I want to do something great with that opportunity.
4. What’s something you’ve done at Brooks that you never expected to do?
Play volleyball, definitely. When I came to Brooks, I didn’t consider myself to be athletic. My plan was to put my head down, do exactly what I had to do, and get out. But, it didn’t turn out that way. I had the opportunity to play sports for the first time. I was so, so bad at volleyball at the beginning, but [retired faculty emeritus Doug] Burbank was my coach and he encouraged us. My fourth-form year, I got the opportunity to be coached by [world languages faculty Chelsea] Clater, and it got a lot more technical. My fifth-form year, I made the first team. It has been an incredible journey to start with nothing and end with something substantial.
5. What do you think you’ll take away from your time here when you graduate?
This is the place where it all started for me. I keep talking about the opportunities and everything I’ve been given here, but that is the truth of it. Brooks has allowed me to do things I couldn’t even imagine. It’s given me an opportunity to make my dreams into reality. Brooks has given me the resources, the love, the energy, the passion that I need to continue on into any endeavor. This is where it all begins for me.