Ava Kopp ’25: Taking on elevated leadership roles

Ava Kopp '25.

Photo by Anibal Ortiz

After visiting the Claremont McKenna College campus for the first time, Ava Kopp ’25 knew she had found the school where she could fulfill her leadership aspirations.

“I felt like CMC’s ethos captured what it means to be a leader, as well as how to achieve strong community connections through open dialogue and conversation,” she recalled.

Now, as the newly elected 2024-25 president of CMC’s student body, Kopp intends to build upon those community connections, and increase student engagement and advocacy.

“I'm really excited about the opportunity to advocate for our students in different spaces across campus, and in meetings with faculty and Deans. I’m especially looking forward to next semester when the first-years come in and there’s the opportunity to impact another class of CMC students. Overall, I’d say that our executive board is excited to hit the ground running and especially excited to get feedback from students,” she said.

Early in her CMC experience, Kopp was inspired to become a First-Year Guide (FYG) so she could help new CMC students through their initial campus experiences. “I had wonderful FYGs and wonderful mentors during my first year, who gave me insight into CMC’s campus life, clubs, and the social scene in general. I wanted to do the same for other people. I wanted to pay it forward,” she said.

While serving as a FYG is one of her favorite jobs at CMC, Kopp is also a CARE Fellow, an admission tour guide, and a media technology intern, handling audio-visuals for the Athenaeum. In addition, Kopp volunteers with CMC Advocates, and was selected as a Handley Leadership Fellow, a year-long leadership development opportunity for CMC women, an initiative through the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI).

As a KLI student assistant, Kopp was selected to present at the KLI Board meeting in New York in April to share details of her leadership journey at CMC, where she has learned how to rely upon — and cultivate — teamwork.

As part of this journey, Kopp, who is majoring in Cognitive Science, with a sequence in Gender and Sexuality Studies, has taken on high-level leadership roles, as president of Boswell dorm, junior class president and now the 2024-25 president of CMC’s student body, aka ASCMC.

All of this is not surprising when you learn that as Kopp, who is from Mountain View, Calif., began exploring prospective colleges, she sought one that offered elevated leadership opportunities. CMC topped Kopp’s wish list, with its leadership-focused mission — to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions.

Her initial impressions were reinforced when Kopp began to take classes, highlighted by the first course she took with Professor Jennifer Taw, which was focused on race, gender, and identity in international relations. Kopp enrolled in the course because it aligned with her pursuit of the Gender and Sexuality Studies sequence, and was so impressed by Taw’s ability to promote discussion and collaboration “with empathy and understanding for different perspectives” that Kopp has subsequently chosen to take two other courses taught by Taw that are outside of her major.

As junior class president, Kopp proudly counts among her accomplishments a commitment to collaboration, which resulted in hosting 20 events, including “some exciting ones that give life to the performing arts on CMC’s campus, such as working with the Gould Center to host the ‘Tiny Hub’ concert series (an homage to NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’) featuring student performers.”

In addition, Kopp forged active partnerships with the Dean of Students of Office (DOS)’s Romero Success Coaches, and Peer Health Ambassadors—work she intends to leverage as the incoming ASCMC president.

“I think that the current political climate and polarization that we’re seeing in the U.S. is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but one that is intensifying and I find that it spreads to other areas, and I want to be able to do the work to help mitigate that,” Kopp said. “Vince Greer (Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs for Dialogue and Diversity) and I have been talking a lot about how we can do that on this campus. There’s already a lot of spaces to do so and we’re working on making sure that ASCMC can collaborate further with DOS.”

As an admission tour guide, when Kopp fields questions about the resources available to CMC students, she points to the “unique structure at the Dean of Students Office that is “high touch” and welcoming. “I think more of our students can take advantage of that, whether they want to increase community within their dorm, or within a specific club,” she said.

While Kopp manages a busy schedule and activities, she recommends that first-year students take their time acclimating. “I advise first-years that all they need is to attend their classes, hang out with their friends, and go to the Ath. As part of my AV job, I have attended more than 75 Ath talks, and they’ve been some of the most valuable experiences I’ve had at CMC,” she said.

Still, when she reflects on her deep involvement at CMC, Kopp describes it as “rooted in gratitude. I love everything I do.”

Anne Bergman


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