Baker’s Dozen Abroad Corner: Karina Cheah


Karina Cheah

Josie Rozzelle, Assistant Baker’s Dozen Editor

Karina Cheah, a junior from Bethesda, Md., is in the final stages of completing and publishing her own collection of stories all focused on loss, grief, and moving forward.

“Professor Eric Koester —­ who previously taught an entrepreneurial class at Georgetown — reached out to me via LinkedIn and said he’d seen in my bio that I’m a writer and asked if I would be interested in writing a book,” Cheah said. “I’ve always been a writer, and I’d wanted to do another long-term project for a while, but hadn’t really settled on one, so this seemed like a great opportunity!”

Koester is based at Georgetown University but offers this online course focused on helping students produce content, learn marketing strategies, and learn about the publication process. Participants in the course — which includes a few other Colgate students — use a software platform called Quip to communicate with other students, as well as the editorial and publishing teams.

Cheah said she began the project after experiencing an unexpected loss, using writing as an outlet to process it.

“As I spend more time on it, I’m realizing that there are so many unique stories surrounding the experience of loss and grieving, but it is also such a universal feeling that everyone has felt in some capacity,” Cheah said. “Although working on it and writing from the place of vulnerability — even through other characters — has sometimes been difficult, I’ve really enjoyed the experience and found that it’s played a large role in my process of healing and understanding what I was dealing with.”

Cheah is currently working on what she thinks will be the last story in the collection and is also working on compiling each story in order. As of now, her collection has six complete stories, an author’s note, acknowledgments, and a dedication. Cheah is also currently in the first phase of a marketing campaign.

“Working on this collection and moving through the publication process with the help of Professor Koester and his connections are definitely a way for me to explore pursuing writing and the creative industry as a career,” Cheah said.

Cheah, an International Relations major and French, Creative Writing double minor, is studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland this semester. There, she is focussing more on her major, exploring the field of international relations through an internship with a non-governmental organization called Initiatives of Change, working in their Land and Security Division as well as their Communications Department.

“It has nothing to do with my writing, but I am definitely loving being in Europe and being able to write — it’s such a unique experience,” Cheah said. “I wanted to do this program both to pursue a pre-professional opportunity in the field of foreign policy or international relations and to have the opportunity to live abroad for some time and practice my French.”

While the size and feel of Geneva was a surprise to her, Cheah has loved her first weeks abroad, especially enjoying the quintessential Swiss scenery.

“I’ve loved being in Geneva and traveling with the study group so far — Geneva is a smaller city than one might expect, but it’s beautiful and a very quaint mix of urban in the midst of the typically imagined Swiss landscape,” Cheah said. “I can quite literally see the mountains from the window of my housing.”

Cheah’s journey as part of Colgate’s campus community has been sometimes rocky and difficult, but always worthwhile, and both her time on and off campus has allowed her to explore who she is as a person, and find new avenues of growth and exploration.