Great political figures of the world are often born leaders and exhibit a powerful presence early on. John F. Kennedy’s childhood headmaster said when this future president flashed his smile he could charm a bird off a tree. Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography that, while playing with his friends as a child, he knew how to defeat his opponents without dishonouring them. Even George W. Bush proved that he had leadership skills as a boy when he stood up in front of his fellow classmates with charcoal sideburns drawn on his face to play the part of Elvis Presley. With the anticipation of a newly elected team of AMS leaders here at Queen’s, the Journal gives you some insight into how the AMS candidates stack up as childhood leaders-in-training.
As a child, presidential candidate Holly Archer may not have seen herself running in an election. According to her mother Joan Archer, the young Holly had very different aspirations: she wanted to be an animal doctor named Butterfly Bunny Rose.
“She told everyone to call her that,” Joan said. “I thought it was sort of a stripper name.”
Luckily, Holly also had a fear of animals. Today she has given up on fixing problems in the animal anatomy and is looking for solutions for our student body, instead.
As the middle child in the family, Joan said Holly talked a lot.
“She’s in the middle of three kids so sometimes she talked faster to get a word in,” she said.
But when she wasn’t talking, Holly was singing.
“As a kid she would sing anything she heard,” Joan said. “They put on neighbourhood plays and they were always tragedies and there was singing involved.”
Meanwhile, Holly’s teammate vice-president (operations) candidate Jay Collins might have seen himself as part of a different team, as well. Jay’s mom Debbie Collins said he had his sights set on hockey for a potential career when he was a young player, but those aspirations didn’t last long.
“He was really into hockey for a while so I guess when he was much younger he saw himself as a potential NHL hockey player, but as he got into high school he got very into school politics,” Debbie said.
The final part of the team may add some playfulness to ACH’s campaign. Vice-president (university affairs) Jeffrey Howard’s mother Kathryn Howard said Jeffrey’s family thought he might have grown up to be a comedian.
“He is an impersonator,” Kathryn said. “He could be another Jim Carey.”
If you heard Jeffrey speak as a child, you may have thought he really did lead another life.
“He used to speak with a Boston accent as a little child,” his mother said.
But performance aside, you can always count on Jeffrey to show up. In kindergarten, he received a grey teddy bear for perfect attendance. From then on, that teddy became this candidate’s favourite toy.
Goal-setting and campaigning is no change for presidential candidate Talia Radcliffe who, according to her mother Ayala Radcliffe, has always set goals to accomplish everything.
“There were about five things she always wanted to be when she grew up and we always asked her, ‘How are you going to do it all?’” Ayala said, adding that some of these jobs included a teacher, a doctor and a painter.
“We tried to point out it was very crowded in her life, but Talia always thought she could do it all.”
But don’t take this politician’s broad agenda as a sign that she may find herself cutting corners. Ayala said young Talia was a stickler for rules and would make sure she and her mother would go three or four blocks down the road just to avoid jaywalking.
Talia might also have been practicing her public speaking skills at an early age: Ayala said her daughter used to record herself on a plastic Fisher Price tape recorder.
“Her tape recorder was a favorite toy,” Ayala said. “She used to sneak out of bed at nighttime and start recording herself.”
According to Alex Wang, vice-president (operations) candidate Ken Wang’s father, Ken was another talkative child. His school reports consistently said Ken was always socializing in class.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a dedicated student.
“When he was a middle school student, we knew he wanted to be a scientist, so he chose [the] subject of science to study,” his father said.
And Ken made an effort to learn things that didn’t come so easily, as well.
“He had [a] hard time learning to play the accordion. That time he was five years old,” his father said.
Stephanie St. Clair, the final member of this loquacious group, learned to speak French, Swiss German and Spanish in her travels around the world. In an e-mail from her parents Michael and Heidi, they said her apparent grasp on language wasn’t always what it seemed.
“Steff was only a little more than two years old when she started to impress people by reading her books to them. She couldn’t actually read but had memorized every page of her books and repeated them back,” her parents said.
Michael and Heidi said when living abroad Stephanie was bitten by a giraffe in Nairobi, Kenya and by a sloth in Tena, Ecuador.
“The giraffe was an accident, but you have to really possess lightning reflexes to suffer a sloth bite.”
Allison Williams’s mother, Bonnie Bender, isn’t surprised to see her daughter as WCW’s presidential candidate because of her natural tendency to rule as an older sister.
“She’s a real leader type. She’s the oldest of three sisters and she always took being the big sister very seriously,” Bender said.
But she learned to negotiate the bossy-older-sister role by making compromises. While Williams devoted much of her childhood spare time to playing Barbies, her sister preferred Nina Turtles.
“They would start a combo game of Barbies and Ninja Turtles,” Bender said.
Meanwhile, WCW’s candidate for vice-president (operations) was a little harder to keep track of in his youth according to his mom, Linda Cameron, who said her son Andrew would never stop moving.
“He was always a child that was on the move. He crawled when he was six months and walked when he was nine months,” Linda said.
“I used to have a pair of shoes that had lights on them so I could follow him around the neighbourhood.”
And keeping track of him was even harder with his many aliases.
“He used to write fictional names on his test papers … so you’d never know when he’d bring home a paper with another name on it,” Linda said.
“I hope he’s not still doing that.”
Meanwhile, Yanique Williams, WCW’s vice-president (university affairs) candidate, could always be recognized as a child by her face and hairstyle, said her mother Letna Allen-Roe.
“She was so cute. [My friends] remembered her as the cute little girl with two big buns of hair,” her mother said.
Allen-Roe said Yanique was determined even as a baby and knew what she wanted at a young age.
“She went to school at age two. She didn’t go to kindergarten. She went straight to grade one,” said her mother, adding that she later had to wait in grade two for a number of years for the other kids to catch up before she came to Canada in grade three.
“At age 12 she decided she wanted to be a lawyer and she has been heading that way ever since,” Allen-Roe said.
But she has secretly held on to more than just her childhood dreams, her mother said.
“When she was one year old she got a teddy bear named Spooky and to this day the teddy bear is on her bed.”
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