You may know the face and the name, but here is a chance to get to know more about Bethel's student body president
Culture | Cherie Suonvieri for The Clarion
Laroche's sister, Hope, was able to shed more light on his personality outside of school and BSA. | Drea Chalmers
While he may be well known by many upperclassmen, this year’s Bethel Student Association president, Austin Laroche, is still a stranger to some of Bethel’s incoming students. As one of the more prominent faces of the Bethel community, Laroche has made efforts to meet numbers of people on campus.
Laroche is from Bradford, Pa. and naturally a “die-hard Steelers fan,” he said while wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt. “And I like to talk”.
The senior is studying biochemistry at Bethel. “I spend a lot of time downstairs in the basement labs and a lot of time in the library studying,” Laroche said.
As for his future plans, he isn’t quite certain yet. “What I always say is that I know I want to go to heaven, and between now and then I don’t really care.” he said with a laugh. “If I were to guess, I’d say possibly med school.”
Regarding his position as student body president, Laroche’s first comment was, “I love it!” While it is a lot of work, Laroche said he has enjoyed working with a great team.
As the president, he has two main responsibilities. One is to oversee BSA. “It’s a very large group,” he said. “And underneath that there are a lot of different organizations and departments. I kind of oversee that as a whole.”
The second main responsibility of the president is to act as the primary liaison between the students and the Bethel administration. He communicates student concerns to the administration and presents administration concerns to the student body.
What motivates a person to become Bethel’s student body president? “I get asked that a lot,” Laroche said. “There were a couple reasons. One—I thought it would be a lot of fun, to be honest. Two—I thought it would be a great ministry and great opportunity to give back to Bethel.”
Laroche, like many other students, credits much of his growth to his Bethel experience. He explained that during his time here he’s grown spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.
Laroche has branched out relationally as well. “I’ve built so many great friendships on campus, and I’ve had so much fun,” he said. “I’ve gotten so much out of this and Bethel is something I’m passionate about because of that.”
Another thing Laroche has a passion for is honoring God in all that he does as an individual and as the president. He stated that his goal is to make a strong point that glorifying God is the mission of BSA. “I believe wholeheartedly that we are not able to serve the student body to the best of our abilities if we’re not doing everything we can to seek God,” he said.
Another goal Laroche has in mind for this year is to make himself available to the students. He hopes to be out where people can talk and interact with him.
As for his personal goals, Laroche said the list includes getting straight A’s, remembering to sleep every now and then and solidifying relationships he has established with his peers before he graduates.
As the student body president, Laroche is a strong leader among Bethel students, but he has proven to be a leader outside of the Bethel community as well. Hope, Laroche’s younger sister, a sophomore at Bethel, was able to shed a little more light on Laroche’s personality.
“Austin is one of the most extroverted, outgoing people alive... so he knows everyone,” Hope said. “So I kind of came up known as ‘Austin’s sister’... and that was my name for a while. Which was okay. If I’m to be anyone’s mini-me, I’m glad it’s him and not someone weird.”
In regards to Laroche’s personality, Hope said that the charisma he possesses has always been one of his natural qualities. She also reiterated the fact that he loves to talk. “But he is also very kind and a very good listener, and I think that’s a side a lot of people don’t get to see of him.” said Hope.
Hope also shared that when she and her brothers were younger, they weren’t allowed to watch TV often.
Laroche, being the oldest, took initiative and came up with imaginary games that the siblings could play to entertain themselves. “To this day, my brothers are my very best friends...[Austin] was always like the good leader, the good mentor.” she said. “We were different ages and interested in different things, but he was always so good at being creative and bringing us together.”
In the same way, Hope sees that Laroche has applied his leadership skills in his college community. “It’s definitely on a different scale, but he has to be creative and involved in different activities and in people’s lives to bring things together and build it up,” Hope explained. “If Austin runs his presidency like he led our little family tree club, I think it will be fantastic. I think the student body will come together and really be strong under his leadership.”