Today we speak with Leah Boyle, who recently graduated with a degree in Psychology. Leah comes from Haddonfield, NJ in Camden County and is a first-generation college student. She had been an on-campus resident all four years and worked as an RA (Resident Assistant) for the LGBTQIA+ Learning Community in Holly Pointe for the last two years.
Why did you choose a university close to home?
My sister went [to Rowan]. She’s a year older than me and she graduated last year. We are very, very close and when she went to Rowan, I knew that they had a great psychology program. We were roommates in Holly Pointe my freshman year. We had an apartment together with our friends. She’s one of my best friends. That was why I chose [Rowan] and it ended up being a great opportunity. Everything about it has been awesome. It was more for family.
How do you carve out an identity for yourself if you are with a sibling in the same place?
Shannon, my older sister, specifically was an Art major. She was working on that, and I became interested in the Social Justice office. [I] started working at the office of Social Justice Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR). I worked on their programming and it got me thinking about what we do for our queer students, which got me to becoming an RA. She ended up making a club for women in our arts programs (Women of Westby, W.O.W). I was able to get my residence to come to W.O.W. events and she was able to bring the arts to my residence. So we were able to connect a lot [that way]. She was really successful in her art. I was doing my psychology and social justice stuff. We started out the same but went in different directions.
Did you ever feel overshadowed by having a sibling here?
Well, I’m not an artist! I didn’t really know much about how Shannon is such a good artist until I would meet with her in the art building. [We’d] go get food together, see her stuff and [witness] people talk about her and her art. She is an incredible oil painter. So I didn’t [feel] overshadowed because I don’t do a lot in the arts. I took an oil painting class last semester on Zoom and had to call her every day to get tips. We had our own things that we specialized in. It was good to see her grow in her art. She got a lot of involvement in social justice too.
What was it like to live with your sister in a university location after living together for your whole life?
It was much messier because we had bigger rooms now. We’ve shared a room since I was seven. I say everything that is hers is mine. She lives in Maryland now. It’s a lot more arguments about where things should be put, but it was great. My sophomore year we had an apartment with four other friends in university housing. It was really great because there’s no one you could be more honest with than your sister. I could say, “I can’t be around you right now.” I can be honest with my roommate because she is my sister.
Rowan was really accommodating to [me] living with a sophomore my freshman year. They had no problems and they were so happy for us. I’m happy we were able to do it because now she’s doing her own thing. I’m moving after this. I’m going to grad school at Montclair State University.
Do you have any other majors, minors or CUGs?
I took Child Life courses at University of California Santa Barbara, where I study hospitalization. I’m going to Montclair State for Child Psychology.
What is it like not living with your sister?
In the beginning, it was kind of a bummer. I’m happy I didn’t have to go live with someone who wasn’t her. I got used to it. It’s a little far (I’m up near New York) so we make weekends to see each other. She calls me and I call her probably a little too much. It’s not so bad, we’re [still] in constant contact.
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