Kanoe Montaño ’18 is a proactive Senior at Lake Forest College. She is the public relations officer for Latinos Unidos, a wellness peer educator, and she is a resident assistant. Montaño’s positive impact at the College is reflected in her peers’ opinions of her. Nouha Ezouhri ’19 said she is “[a]compassionate and beautiful person who is so devoted to the causes she cares about.”

Darya Rodina ’18 added that “every interaction with Kanoe was always positive and encouraging. She is a good advocate for people who need help or support.”

The enthusiasm her peers admire extends to a variety of life experiences, including travel, school, and her future career. Stentor spoke with Montaño about her interests, passions, and experiences.

Stentor: What are you most passionate about?

Montaño: “The thing that I am most passionate about is working with people who need support, in whatever way that is. I want to go into Student Affairs and be a college counselor eventually, so I want to work with a range of young people in very vulnerable states to help them feel more empowered. At the core of it, I like making other people feel empowered and validated because we have all been invalidated in one way or another. That’s a terrible feeling.”

Stentor: Do you have any hidden talents that most people don’t know about?

Montaño: “I can start a fire in under 10 minutes, but not on wet wood. I would need dry wood, but I go backpacking a lot; that’s why I can start a fire easily. That is something that a lot of people don’t know because it’s such a random skill, but it’s also a useful one.”

Stentor: How was your study abroad experience in South Africa?

Montaño: “Stellenbosch is a politically tense environment, much like the rest of South Africa. It was kind of creepy to walk around there and see all these names of these horrible men that did terrible things and are responsible for the horrible political system. I don’t want to say that it was amazing, because learning about the hardships in the higher educational systems in South Africa—the protests, and how they were treated as black women and as students—is not amazing. It was heart-wrenching but in the best way, because I was able to figure out how much privilege I have. South Africa is amazing. I was treated only with the most welcoming and kind intentions, but seeing that real and raw side of the country was impactful.”

Stentor: What do you love the most about Lake Forest College?

Montaño: “I love the faculty support that I received when I felt at my lowest and when I felt like my role as a student was compromised. My experience with Residence Life staff has been the same exact way. They have really supported me as a person rather than as an employee. I had thought about transferring out during my freshman year—I am from Colorado and that’s far away. I was just so homesick, then I thought about how l love my professors and how they are so good to me.”

Stentor: What advice would you give to freshmen?

Montaño: “Right now, you are not fully who you will become. You are really young. You are 18. You might have thought that you learned so much about yourself in high school when all you were doing was similar to a painting. You bought maybe two brushes and a couple of colors of paint that you like, and you might have had two sizes of canvas. College is where you are going to paint that canvas. College is where you will realize that you need different kinds of brushes, different kinds of paint, and a bigger canvas. You are going to grow and you are going to work on yourself. Your friend group will change, and that’s okay.”

Rudo Ellen Kazembe’20 can be contacted at


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