KM: Tell me a little bit about yourself (name, age, where you go to school)
SK: My name is Samantha K. (you can call me Sam). I went to the Spence School in Manhattan and am now a junior at Brown. I’m concentrating in Art History and Psychology.
KM: How long have you been working with sweet readers? What is your current position in the organization?
SK: In 6th grade I was a Sweet Reader. Then in high school, I was on the Leadership Council and I was the head of the science division. This past summer, I was a Sweet Reader’s intern and then currently I am the Leadership Council and Program Liaison.
KM: How has working with Sweet Readers impacted your life? What have you learned about yourself and about the world around you?
SK: Sweet Readers has impacted pretty much every aspect of my life, whether it was furthering my interpersonal skills, feeling comfortable speaking to people from all walks of life and really seeing the person behind the disease. My goal is to become a doctor and that really stemmed from my work with Sweet Readers, wanting to help people and seeing how great a difference I could make even as a sixth grader. I think it also really helped my confidence; I feel so empowered by what Sweet Readers can do for everyone, including myself. I have a can-do spirit and know I can really make a difference. Especially through the arts, as a healing tool, I feel that’s very important as well. I really love the human connection and how the arts and sciences are very interdisciplinary; just like my major, I think all of that stemmed from Sweet Readers.
KM: What is one piece of advice you would give to a Sweet Reader?
SK: The biggest advice is to be yourself and to not worry about making mistakes. I think middle school kids sometimes become scared to say the wrong thing around their adult partners, but I want them to know that the adult participants are so grateful just to connect with someone; they feel cared for and loved. The elders are so happy to talk to you so even if it is nerve wracking at first, it becomes easier as each session goes on; you become closer and closer and become friends with these people.
KM: What is one piece of advice you would give to a Young Leader?
SK: Collaborate with the members of your team. You all offer such different perspectives. It’s really important to delegate your time and to see people’s strengths and weaknesses so you can actually make an impact. Make sure everyone is on the same page; that is how you get the most done.