As Gustavus enters the beginning of the upcoming school year, there are plenty of students that have settled back into life on the hill.
One of these individuals is Taylor Kmiech, a senior English major and dance minor who comes from Duluth, Minnesota.
“Taylor is not only the definition of what it means to be a Gustie. She’s a living example of what it means to be a good person. From the moment she wakes up, she always shows a positive attitude and spreads the most contagious smile that you can’t help but smile with her. She’s professional and intelligent, but is also someone to have fun with after a long day,” Senior Lucio Gonzalez said.
In high school, Kmiech was a member of the competitive dance team and theatre program. She chose Gustavus when she toured it with her brother when he was a student. It instantly felt like home. Dr. David Obermiller was actually a family friend, so she connected with him on campus as well.
“Gustavus prides itself as being a community…you run into people and they know you by name right away. It felt like a community in the first couple of days,” Kmiech said.
One of the best encounters during her first year was with her Collegiate Fellow (CF), Taylor Claeys, a welcoming individual. It was this relationship that encouraged her to break out of her comfort zone to join new student organizations, including the Residential Life Collegiate Fellow Program.
“Being a CF has helped me understand where people come from. It’s really cool to see the residents during my first-year become juniors now, and seeing how far they’ve come and grown on campus makes me proud”, Kmiech said.
In general, she believes the entire CF staff is a tight-knit family that wants people to feel like they belong. Being a CF has also led her to meet some of her best friends because they all aim to be kind, compassionate, and empathetic people.
While there are challenges to being a CF, Kmiech loves looking at the positive side by seeing how students have grown with life-changing experiences and helping them with their beginning struggles. She feels privileged and thankful to be a part of that.
Kmiech is also a member of the Gustavus Dance Company, where she uses her talents as a form of therapy and creative expression.
“Coming to a two hour dance class makes me feel free…we might all have our bad and stressful days, but just being able to appreciate what dance is makes you feel good coming out of class,” Kmiech said.
She uses the less formally structured class time to let her internalized feelings control how she does her movement. She believes it is a much-needed contrast from sitting in class all day to be able to let that out with bursts of energy.
After graduation, she hopes to pursue a job in higher education such as Student Affairs or Residential Life. She gives credit to the English Department Professors like Sean Cobb, So Young Park, and Becky Fremo for helping her to become a clever thinker and artistic writer who excels in the major. She utilizes this creative talent to write for The Fourth Crown, the online satirical newspaper.
“It’s a very interesting way to tackle conversations in the Gustavus community that are coming up like political issues or campus events where it gets people talking about it in a light-hearted way,” she said.
When it comes to first-year advice, Kmiech recommends being open to new endeavors so people can discover who they want to be. She believes that the clubs she did not originally get involved in have ended up being the ones she loves the most.
“Taylor is the embodiment of Gustie spirit. She is incredibly intelligent and kind. The way that she interacts with others reflects the generosity and courage that she has inside herself. She encouraged me to make my journey my own and to never settle for less than what I am worth. As her former resident, she helped me feel more at home here and welcomed me to the Gustavus family with arms literally open wide. I cannot express the amount of gratitude and admiration I have for Taylor,” Sophomore Kennedy Chapman said.