Duke PRIDE welcomes guest speaker Hanna Kikos and celebrates St. Patrick’s Day


Photo by CeCe Lampa

Pride members surround guest speaker Hanna Kikos (7th from right), following her speaking about her personal college experiences.

On Thursday, March 8, Duke PRIDE invited guest speaker and alumna from the class of 2017, Hanna Kikos, in order to help students prolong their abstinence from alcohol and drugs into their lives in college, while writing colorful cards to a nursing home in the Elmhurst community.

Club Sponsor Rebecca Marianetti asked Kikos to come back and speak after learning that she was going to a “dry” campus, or a school that has a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol on campus. Kikos was always passionate about finding alternatives to illegal substances.

“I think that as noble as it is to keep your values in high school, it is even more difficult to extend them into college,” Marianetti said. “Hanna is just such a good example of leading a life that is fun and interesting, without having to necessarily include negative influences.”

Photo by CeCe Lampa
Junior Jacki Riek writing a card for a nursing home, using all Irish colors, to make it as festive and joyful as possible for the recipients.

Not only did she find leadership skills and strong relationships at York, but she seems to have a similar fate at Belmont University, where she is a freshman this year. Kikos has found friends that have similar values regarding drugs and alcohol, and never felt very pressured by her newfound companions into uncomfortable situations.

“The most important thing to remember about entering college is staying true to your morals,” Kikos said. “Even though there are usually people drinking at parties, I always abstain from it and nobody has questioned me.”

Kikos brought up a lot of points describing how she can enjoy herself with her friends, yet alcohol is never in the picture, something that many students found quite compelling.

“She was really inspiring, teaching me a lot of great tips for when I go to college,” freshman Olivia Rosenberg said. “She also talked about how if you are strongly anti-alcohol you can find ‘dry’ campus so you are able to stick to your morals.”

Reminding the club of some of the impacts that alcohol can have, Kikos noted that she likes “remembering her nights”, and would rather not have a cloudy vision of herself having fun with friends.

Photo by CeCe Lampa
Junior Bridey Costello writing a card for a local nursing home with a St Patrick’s Day message.

“I have never understood why kids my age want to use alcohol because it never appealed to me,” Kikos said. “I can just have fun with my friends and don’t need to go to a party to equally enjoy an experience.”

Many of the Duke PRIDE board members will be entering college next year, and all of them want to continue being clean of alcohol, but still enjoy their college experience.

“I loved the guest speaker this morning,” senior and board member Siva Sreedhar said. “I feel as though she helped us understand some of the fears we had entering college next year, and let us feel comfortable being ourselves in college.”

One major aspect of Duke PRIDE is finding fun activities other than illegal substances, so making cards for a nursing home was an activity done in past years that was repeated this year. Last year, Sreedhar delivered the cards to the nursing home for Valentine’s Day and was very excited to see how pleased the recipients were with their notes.

“Seeing the smiles on each of their faces made me so happy that we could help them find a little bit of happiness for a holiday,” Sreedhar said.

This is just one of the various activities done in PRIDE meetings, there were some other charitable works done in PRIDE meetings this year, including donating Christmas presents to Operation Christmas Child for children in third world countries. Though it is not easy for students to keep themselves away from peer pressure, this club makes their focus helping students find alternatives to the temptations that surround them.

Though it takes a fair amount of self-confidence, Kikos doesn’t feel insecure about missing out on drinking with her friends.

“Who cares if I am invited to the party when I can find friends who can support my beliefs and help me in my journey?” Kikos said. “I would much rather be myself than change for friends who I most likely am not compatible with.”