Street: What are you involved in at Penn? Steph Kotnik: I’m the captain of the Quaker Girls dance team and the president of Mortar Board. I was the New Member Educator for TriDelt last spring and the House Manager before that.
Street: What are your hobbies outside of your extracurriculars? SK: I was telling my gay uncle/BFF that I was Ego and I was going to be asked about this, and I wasn’t sure what to say. His response was, “Oh Steph, that’s so easy! Your hobbies are drinking, dating Jewish boys and watching TLC reality shows!” Good or bad, that’s pretty accurate.
Street: We hear your new pledge class gave you an interesting nickname when you were their New Member Educator. SK: They called me Mother Superior. She’s the head nun in a convent—not that that group could ever be compared to a convent of nuns — but they knew that I’m Catholic, I go to church every week, so because I was kind of the head of the brood, it stuck. A lot of them still call me Mother or Mom.
Street: Speaking of religion, you’ve mentioned that people often mistake you for being Jewish. SK: Sophomore year, I was on the cover of the Hillel flyer with a slogan that read something like “Jewish sophomores are here to help you adjust to life at Penn.” The picture was from this event “Latke–Palooza.” I guess because there was a menorah in the background and I can pass for Jewish, it seemed like a good choice for an ad? It’s still on the JRP website!
Street: As Quaker Girls captain, what is your inspiration for your dances? SK: I watch a lot of music videos. Lots and lots of Beyonce, back to the Destiny’s Child years even. I’m also inspired by my teammates. We have a really collaborative environment on QG.
Street: You did Breakthrough a couple of summers ago. What did you learn from that? SK: That was definitely one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences. I taught 8th graders, and at that age, they all have these attitudes that really try to test you, but when you test them back you can really see how young they are and they’re still just these kids that want their teachers to like them. I grew to appreciate my education in a new way. The kids also taught me how to Dougie and Cat Daddy after a lot of mockery about how my moves were “too stiff.” It was a very reciprocal learning process.
Street: Who’s your favorite fictional teacher? SK: Definitely Mr. Feeney. He’s sarcastic and sassy, but at the end of the day, a total softy. We have that in common.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn SK: Those who get into Smokes through the door and those who get in through the window.
Street: What advice would you give to your freshman year self? SK: I would tell her to go out more on weeknights because sometimes those nights can turn out to be some of the best nights, often more fun than the weekends. Also, cut down on the late–night snacking. It’s going to catch up with you and it’s not gonna be pretty.