The Future Is Eve Austin: A Student Leader Who's Empowering Her Peers to Make a Difference

Photo Courtesy of Eve Austin.

Photo Courtesy of Eve Austin.

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Whether it's by helping her peers develop themselves as leaders or interning at the Defenders of Wildlife office in Alaska, Eve Austin is out to make a difference. The St. John's University Junior is a Public Service and Public Administration student — which isn't shocking if you give her resume a glance. An active Girl Scout volunteer, Student Conduct Board member and impactful intern with several organizations, Austin has a laundry list of achievements in helping others. However, she says the progress she sees in her fellow students as the leadership and development coordinator for St. John's University Career Services is something especially rewarding. 

We spoke to Austin about how she's prepping the leaders of the future and how her life's circumstances have inspired her to help others be their best. She also shared some great advice about how to make a difference. Hint: don't think too much. 

How are you making an impact on your school or local community?

I am the leadership and development coordinator for St. John’s University Career Services' career peers! In this role, I help with the interviewing and training of the new peer cohort that we bring in each year. I also identify and create professional development opportunities for the peers in our cohort.

What made you passionate about the project or role that's allowing you to make a difference?

The results that we’re seeing. In the two years that I’ve been in my role, I’ve watched people come into their interview very shy and timid. Then, by the end of their first year in the program, they are comfortable doing presentations in front of a room of people. As much as people apply and become career peers to help others, they are really helping themselves, too. It’s the development of both the students that use our services and the peers themselves that keep me passionate about my role.

How did you get in this position? Were you elected, selected, or did you start the project yourself? What steps did you take to fulfill this role? 

I knew I wanted to be on the leadership team after my first full term as a peer and I initially applied to be the service chair. I got the acceptance email from my supervisor, Nicole, but she had accepted me into the training and development coordinator role  which I hadn’t applied for. I’m sure if you’d asked me then, I would tell you that I was disappointed and confused. But looking back today, that was absolutely a blessing in disguise. Nicole saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and thought I should take on the more senior role.

What other activities, projects, or jobs do you do at school? 

I am the secretary of the St. John’s University Irish Society, a member of the Irish Society’s Dance Team, a student worker in the St. John’s College Dean’s Office, a member of the University Student Conduct Board and a resident assistant. I am also a lifelong Girl Scout and remain involved with the movement as a National Volunteer Partner. Additionally, I am a Jeannette K. Watson Fellow though the Watson Foundation and have interned at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. I have an internship lined up for this summer with Defenders of Wildlife in their Alaska office.

What is an accomplishment you're proud of?

In April of 2019, I was asked to speak at St. John’s University’s Accepted Students Day, where roughly 6,000 people were in attendance. I was able to speak to the class of 2023 about how my time at St. John’s has challenged and changed me in all the best ways. I spoke about how the people I have met here have equipped me to always maximize my potential both in my career and in my life.

What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

It’s probably impossible for me to answer this question without talking about my dad. He passed away in 2015 when I was 17. Not that you can ever “overcome” a loss of that magnitude, but experiencing it when I was so young put a lot of things in perspective for me. Sometimes life punches you in the gut and you can lay on the ground or you can get up and keep fighting. I know that he would want me to keep fighting. And that’s what I do.

What advice do you have for women who want to make a difference at their school?

If you find yourself wanting to wait for the “right time” to do something, you’ll be waiting forever. Today — right now — is the best time.

Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?

Nicole Wolfrath from St. John’s University Career Services is my Fairygodboss. I applied to be a career peer on a whim during my freshman year and had no idea the way the program would change my life — including introducing me to Nicole. She’s a leader, a role model and, most importantly, someone I love working with. I know I can go to her for advice, feedback or even when I need someone to tell me to stop obsessing over an application answer (which has happened on more than one occasion!). Nicole is a rock and I am eternally grateful to her.

Lightning Round: What's Your Karaoke Song?

"Love Shack" by The B-52s!

Lightning Round: What's Your Favorite Book?

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lightning Round: What's Your Favorite Movie?

"Across the Universe."

Lightning Round: What's Your Favorite Quote?

“Wherever you go, be brave. To whomever you meet, be kind. With whatever you have, do good.”

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