Kymani Montgomery '12 on staying connected to LAS

In Spring 2022, Kymani Montgomery ‘12 (he/him) met with students from the LAS Technicolor Fellowship to discuss the work they do on campus and his experiences of supporting 2SLGBTQ+ communities through his role at the Ten Oaks Project, where he serves as Programs Manager.

Kymani is a Black, queer, immigrant with a background in political science and education. Through his work, Kymani strives to help children and youth have difficult conversations about racism, gender, sexuality, and class. He wants to bring recreation and camping to communities that have been historically shut out. In his free time, he enjoys video games, painting, unsuccessful baking, and reading Black feminist authors.

The LAS Advancement team sat down with Kymani following his work with the LAS Technicolor Fellowship to dive deeper into his story and what LAS means to him.

Why is reconnecting with LAS important to you?
Reconnecting with LAS is important to me because I feel like — I say this to people all the time — I am the person I am today because I went to school at LAS. My interest in being engaged in community started at LAS. I was a kid who, I’ll admit, complained a lot, wasn’t the most agreeable person, and always wanted to see change. I remember Mr. Deupree offered a position at LAS which gave me the opportunity to be on student council; instead of complaining, I realized I want to be part of creating a space that I enjoyed better and that my friends and everyone else enjoyed better. That desire has carried me through my leadership positions as Class President at LAS and as a RES president at my university as well. That genesis of being in 9th grade, seeing issues and wanting to present solutions – I feel like I owe so much to LAS.

What was your favorite part of chatting with our technicolor fellowship students?
Just seeing the initiative that I saw in the Technicolor Fellowship students: hearing they’d created the group themselves, that they’d been working with other people and presenting to the school community. That desire to create, expand and educate people is still there! LAS is such a great place because it fosters that. Connecting with the students, I was able to see what students are doing now: creating this sort of community and making safer spaces for each other. They are making their own legacy, something that students in the future can benefit from as well. It’s heartwarming. 

Could you imagine expanding your involvement in the future?
I would love to come back as a visiting scholar. You know, I always wanted to get into education; right now my role [at Ten Oaks Project] is very heavily in education, workshops and the outdoor recreation space. I always wanted to be a teacher at LAS; that was my dream for a while: being able to connect with students and my former teachers. Coming back as a visiting scholar would mean being able to share the knowledge I’ve learned since I’ve graduated, learning from the students themselves and from educators that are there now. That’d be really wonderful.

What does LAS mean to you?
LAS means to me: community and learning. I learned so much about myself at LAS. I learned how to define my boundaries, I discovered my passion for working in camp spaces at LAS Summer In Switzerland (SIS), and I also had such a wonderful community. I’m still friends with people I met when I was 14, and who I met while working at SIS. LAS also means building this global community: as an alum, you can go to almost any part of the world and find someone who you’re able to connect with. That element of community is so powerful and so important.

Favorite LAS memory?
I remember visiting my sister – I would’ve been in 7th grade, maybe 6th – when she was attending LAS. I visited with my family and I remember going up on the COG, experiencing what the Magic Mountain actually was for the first time. I instantly was like “ I want to come here!” I knew then that I was going to do everything in my power to convince my mom to let me come to school here, and that Leysin was a place that I was going to call home for years. Seeing what the school and spaces looked like, I just knew this was going to be my home. And it was! From 2008 to 2017, it was home. Not only did I go to school there, I also worked at SIS for a few years. 

I also want to highlight the teachers! Being in a boarding school situation, these people who you are around, the last people you see when you go to sleep, the first people you see when you wake up… the educators become your support systems. I remember at graduation crying with my math teacher when I realized: it’s going to be a while before I can come back here.

So many of my teachers have taught me how to be the educator I am today. I still look back on the things I learned from them as I figure out how  to do my best work now. The educators at LAS go above and beyond. They go through a lot! We (students) put them through hell. I appreciate that and all their patience and time they spent and cared for us.