For KSC twins Bobby and Laura Graham, their personalities, goals and lifestyles could not be more different. The one thing they share outside of their DNA is their ambition for change.
KSC alumnus Bobby Graham is best known for his time on campus as Student Body President. Bobby said that when he was sworn in his sophomore year, he wanted to give the students the voice they deserve.
“When I first took the job, students didn’t really have a voice, and I wanted to make sure that they were finally heard,” Bobby said.
After the infamous Pumpkinfest, however, Bobby said that his goals shifted.
“Once Pumpkinfest happened, my vision for the college truly changed. I, then, not only wanted to use my time as Student Body President to give students a voice, but to also use it to figure out what we wanted Keene State to be. I wanted to be able to shape the vision of the students,” Bobby said.
Bobby’s ambition for the student body did not go unnoticed. Friend, colleague and KSC senior Noah Macri said that Bobby’s drive for success is what made him stand out.
“Bobby is definitely a go-getter. He would always come up with an idea and get the ball rolling right away,” Macri said.
Those who remained in Student Government after his graduation, including Macri as Senior Class President, knew there were big shoes to fill.
Luckily, another Graham sibling remained on the KSC campus.
KSC senior Laura Graham started her college career at the University of New Hampshire.
After transferring to KSC her sophomore year and joining Student Government as a class representative, and then last year as secretary, Laura said that there was a lot of comparison between her and her brother.
“I’m meeting all these people who have gotten to know Bobby really well over the past two years and they are always like ‘Oh, your Bobby’s sister,’ and I always have to say that I am nothing like Bobby,” Laura said.
“I want to make sure people know that I am different” she said.
Laura said that while her leadership styles differ from her brother’s, she admires how he handled his time at KSC.
“I am very different from Bobby,” Laura said, laughing.
“He’s very assertive,” Laura said. “He takes charge, while I just let things happen and if I have to step in, I will.”
“Not that the way Bobby led was a bad thing, I just don’t want people to expect things to be the way they were when he was in office,” she said.
Macri can attest to the twin’s differences.
He said that he has gotten to know both Laura and Bobby through being on orientation staff and Student Government.
“They are both great leaders. Bobby really wanted to be elected and always had a plan, whereas Laura got elected by chance. I think they will both do a great job, they will just do it differently,” Macri said.
Similar to Macri, KSC Coordinator of Greek Life and Student Leadership Brandon Mathieu has been working with Laura and Bobby for a majority of their college careers.
When asked on the differences between the Graham twins, Mathieu had no hesitation.
“Laura tends to gain feedback and perspective before she goes out and launches into anything, where as Bobby already had the understanding and knew what he was getting into,” Mathieu said.
“Laura takes a step back and really analyzes the situation before she jumps in full feet while Bobby would sometimes jump in full feet and then take a step back after.”
Bobby’s sense of understanding and “knowing of the culture and context,” according to Mathieu, is why it is no surprise he held the role of Student Body President for two years.
To the Graham family, Bobby’s leadership was expected.
However, when Laura decided to run, Bobby said that it was surprising.
“At first, Laura had no intention of running,” Bobby said.
“The thing is that everyone loves Laura; she is the nicest person you will ever meet. Once she realized how loved and respected she was, that is when she decided she would run.”
When Bobby found out Laura wanted to replace him as Student Body President, he said he tried his best to stay out of it.
“It wasn’t my place to make the decision if she should run or not, but ultimately, in my heart, I knew everyone would want Laura. When she did end up running, she had no competition in two ways. Yes, no one ran against her, but also everyone knew she was the best choice,” Bobby said.
Once the decision was final and Laura was elected Student Body President, Bobby had limited advice to pass on.
“I didn’t have to give her much for advice. The most important thing I told her was to remember that you are the student voice at Keene State,” Bobby said.
“When I first got the position three years ago, I saw Jay Kahn and he told me to look out for curve balls and I’d be fine,” Bobby said.
“Then, of course, two months later, Pumpkinfest happened — that was a huge curve ball. The biggest thing I learned is to just stay level-headed, and as long as you go in the right direction, everything will work out,” he said.
Bobby said that his time as Student Body President has been the main reason he is where he wants to be after graduating.
“I am working for Congresswoman Ann Custer and am employed by the House of Representatives. I love where I am right now, and I know I would not be here if it was not for the connections I made from being Student Body President. I hope Laura gets those same opportunities,” Bobby said.
While Bobby’s ambitions were politically geared, Laura said she still hopes to gain Bobby’s confidence in leadership.
“I definitely want to carry on Bobby’s sense of knowing how to speak in front of a crowd. He would come up on stage without preparing anything and just blurt out words, which I could never do. I hope eventually I can go up on stage and not shrivel into pieces,” Laura said.
Bobby said that Laura will be a great leader, even if she was not an obvious choice.
“Laura being Student Body President was not logical. She is shy, goes with the flow and has no obvious experience,” Bobby said.
“But the thing is that people chose her. She didn’t really campaign because she didn’t have to. She may not have been obvious, but she has always been respected. She was the right choice in an unconventional way. I could not be more proud,” Bobby said.
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org