Damien Hollins is a peer support leader in Hillary House. They are well-known for their service around the school and participation in the performing arts department. Recently, they shaved their head as part of Shave For a Cure, a fundraiser for leukaemia patients which you can read here.
Here’s a little insight into Damien and how they ended up in these places around the school.
Q: You entered Macleans during the year of lockdowns and COVID-19. What was that like?
Entering Macleans during lockdowns was a bit of a bumpy ride. The change from in person learning to digital was a big learning curve, especially going from intermediate to college. Macleans life was full of disruptions and blockages and we all had to work through it. It was strange not having to go to school but still doing it. Like, not going there in person was very strange, especially since in intermediate I would always go to the exact same class everyday. Macleans at home is a very weird experience, especially going to zooms in casual clothes, although my camera didn't work very often. The fluctuating year was stressful for everyone at the school, me included.
Q: Did you have any goals coming into Macleans? If so, what were they?
When I came into Macleans, my goals were pretty simple: just kinda get through it. I didn't realize just how much opportunity there is at this school. I think most people just want to get through high school and leave it behind, which is fair. I definitely didn't have high aspirations when I came into this school. The secret is to try early. Macleans gives everyone the opportunity to try something new. Trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone, even if it's cheesy, is how to improve. When I came into the school, I didn't have any aspirations and now I am an advocate for making your own.
Q: How important is the S in MACLEANS to you?
The S in MACLEANS is the most important part to me. The only way I got to any minor success is through the kindness and help of others; I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am today if not for people being supportive of me. I, of course, do many of the service clubs within the school and I led the 2023 Shave For A Cure with Hana. I think fundraising is a very important part of service, as it makes a tangible difference and improves life directly. I try to fundraise as much as possible, much to the annoyance of my family. Being a part of the community and fundraising is a very real way to impact and help those in need. I come from a lifestyle where I don't have to worry about basic essentials, and reducing the inequality in the world is something I'm very passionate about, even if it's only a little in the grand scheme. Things like flag duty and doing peer support help out the school and students, which is also important. Helping people like people have helped me, even if it's just a little, is yet another thing I'm passionate about. I'd say the S is a little important, maybe a little.
Q: Had you entered Macleans when there were no lockdowns and online classes, would you have done anything differently?
If I had entered Macleans without lockdowns. I'd say that I'd have gotten more involved and seemed out more opportunities, even if I sound like a broken record. Covid made many of us complacent and I think I definitely was a bit too comfortable in the life I had coming into Macleans. I wasn't adventurous and I tried to stay in my bubble. I think that's one of the worst mistakes that I've made here. Getting involved whenever you can is something which only happened a while after coming here. It's partly because of Covid and partly because of me. I think Covid has stopped people from reaching their full potential, and it's something we all need to overcome, if we already haven't.
Q: Do you have any advice that you’d like to share?
As corny as it sounds, just get involved. Putting your name out there into as many things as possible is the best way to diversify your lifestyle. Most of the things I do now I picked up at Macleans. Macleans allows you to pick up new activities and I'd highly recommend picking them up before you can't. Also, if you have hiccups, drink from the far end of a cup of water. Like, if you're drinking it from the lip farther away from you, it should only be half full. If you're really weirdly folding over to drink you're doing it right. I dunno, it makes it go away every time for me.
August 18th, 2023
Written by Damien Hollins, edited by Clarissa Oblefias
Photography by Joseph Zhang