fbpx Leah Cohen | Phillips Exeter Academy

Leah Cohen

Year of Graduation: 
2020
Leah Cohen at Exeter

"My advice is try everything! Everyone wants to see you succeed."

Bubbly and outgoing, Leah Cohen can hardly walk through the Academy Center without smiling and greeting several classmates.

Her primary passion is field hockey, a sport she’s played since 5th grade. As a member of Exeter’s varsity squad since prep year, she enjoys the team camaraderie and sportsmanship. “I love it—the team is a really great group of girls,” she says. During Exeter’s off-season, Leah plays for Seacoast United Field Hockey Club, a local team. Last summer, she traveled with the Seacoast United team to England to play other women’s club teams. “The best part was, win or lose, there were cookouts after each game so I got to meet the girls who live there,” Leah says. “It was really cool to get to know them and learn about their schools.”

Athletics provided an entree to Leah’s second passion: writing. She covers sports for The Exonian, Exeter’s award-winning student newspaper. “Whatever they assign, I write about,” says Leah, who may cover basketball one week and wrestling the next. “I’m learning about sports I know nothing about, which is fun.” As part of her reporting research, she enjoys attending sporting events and interviewing athletes. (See some of Leah’s stories in The Exonian.)

Leah has enthusiastically embraced new activities at Exeter, especially in her second year. She played squash, was on the tech crew for the school’s winter production of “Urinetown,” and tried out for the lacrosse team. She has also joined several Exeter Student Service Organization clubs: Games with Seniors, Pen Pals and Reading Buddies. “For me, it’s the small moments that count,” says Leah who visits a local elementary school weekly to read with third graders. “When I’m working with my Reading Buddies, I love the reward of a kid having an ‘aha’ moment as she sounds out a word to perfection. The kids feel great, I feel good, and this partnership brings me closer to the community outside Exeter.”

Friendships are important to Leah. In addition to the relationships she has made in Amen Hall (“We’re all close. There’s no one there I don’t like hanging out with,” she says), she is active in the Exeter Jewish Community, enjoying Shabbat dinner every Friday with the tight-knit group. “A lot of my friends, Jewish or not, go. It’s a great way to unwind after a busy week with good food and great company,” she says.

Not surprisingly, as a writer, Leah’s favorite class is English, where she enjoys writing narratives and reading. She has embraced Harkness as an especially effective way to learn math. “I like learning from my classmates how to solve a problem versus having the teacher lecture about it,” she says.

She has also forged a strong bond with her adviser, Rev. Heidilee Heath, Exeter’s interim school minister. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and she’s always there to motivate and support me,” Leah says. “She also brings donuts to advising meetings which is pretty awesome!”

Leah has learned one big lesson since coming to Exeter: ask for help. “When I came here, I thought, ‘I got this.’ But I realized you need to reach out. Everyone wants to see you succeed.” She regularly visits her teachers with questions, schedules peer tutoring for subjects she finds challenging, and often reaches out to friends in her dorm for help.

“I’ve really enjoyed trying new things and finding out what I like,” Leah says. “It has made a big difference in my Exeter experience. My advice to other students is try everything!”

— Debbie Kane