In the Light: Iris Kang

Iris Kang reflects on her time as a Colgate student leader.

Iris Kang reflects on her time as a Colgate student leader.

Most current students are familiar with senior Iris Kang’s name: over the past year, she has served as the Student Government Association’s Vice President. Long before Kang’s SGA role though, she was a Staten Island high school student visiting Spain with her Latin class. There, she spotted a group of maroon:

“There was a group of people wearing Colgate hoodies and hats,” Kang said. “Little did I know that it was Colgate Day. When I later heard about the affinity that Colgate alumni had for our school, I knew that I wanted to be part of a community like that.”

And she definitely has. Over her past four years at Colgate, Kang has become an active participant in Colgate’s International Relations and Asian Studies academic programs. Her interest in these topics grew out of personal experience: Kang grew up speaking what she dubs “Konglish” – her own combination of Korean and English. She was fascinated by global events, and loved jotting into notebooks words from other languages.

“I’ve always wanted to learn to unravel the complex and often invisible network of factors existing in the world I lived in, and why or how events and decisions in one part of the globe can have [an] impact in another,” Kang said.

In her first year at Colgate, Kang began learning Mandarin. Her sophomore year, she worked as an intern for an alumnus in Beijing. Her junior year, Kang participated in Middlebury College’s summer language program and travelled abroad to Shanghai.

“Studying abroad was the best decision that I made in my college career, and I’m glad that Colgate supports all students to go abroad,” Kang said. “My favorite experience was when our program directors enforced the ‘No English’ policy.”

The policy fully immersed Kang and her classmates in the abroad experience.

Looking towards the future, Kang does not have a master plan ready. She does know that she wants to surround herself with individuals who are just as motivated and inspired as Colgate’s student leaders.

“I am open to the future and hope to seize any opportunities,” Kang said.

Kang’s openness has been evident throughout her Colgate career, even to the very end. As a second semester senior, she is taking her first ever course in the Religion Department. Kang encourages fellow students to branch out beyond their majors and to explore the opportunities Colgate offers.  

Colgate has been a formative place for Kang, filled with both sweet and sour memories.

“At Colgate, I think the way I found out who I was, was by trying to figure out what kind of person I wanted to be,” Kang said. “I’d like to think that our attitudes are malleable and our perception of ourselves shouldn’t be what others expect us to be. I hate to sound cliché but, as Hannah Montana said, ‘life is what you make it, so let’s make it rock.’”