Student Highlight: Kelsey Kawana ’16


Hi! I’m Kanita Wang from Taiwan and Thailand. I’m a sophomore, and a likely concentrator of Anthropology. My weekly posts will highlight individuals who belong to this diverse student body, and truly embody the spirit of Brown. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing people, and I hope to share a bit of their awesomeness with you all.

One can distinguish Kelsey miles away by her outstanding outfits, which are often stylishly retro or flavored with different East Asian designs. But what makes her appearance so impressive is not just the colorful clothes she wears, but also the confidence and control that she embodies.  Kelsey is a woman who sees and expresses herself with brilliant clarity, and connects with the world around her in beautiful and meaningful ways.

Class: 2016

Hometown: Pasadena, LA

Concentration: Double concentration in BEO (Business, Economics and Organization) and East Asian studies

Classes this semester: Chinese 700, Introduction to Statistics, Micro-organizational Theory Class, The Entrepreneurial Process: Innovation in Process

How did you decide on your concentration? Well, when I first came into Brown, I was dead set on studying literary arts and just taking literary classes my entire time here. But after taking Principles of Economics and going to Beijing for a language program the summer after my first year, I began to think that there was something else I wanted to do. In Beijing, I saw how the pace over there was so fast, the growth of businesses was so exciting – I knew it was something that I wanted to be part of, directly or indirectly.

What has been your favorite class so far? There hasn’t been a class that I regretted taking – even the ones that kicked my butt a little bit. The Entrepreneurial Process has been amazing, by far the most instrumental in shaping what I might do in the future. I would also highly recommend Financial Accounting with Frank Scutio, and my first year seminar Belonging & Displacement with professor Sobral has a special place in my heart – I took it and then I TAed it sophomore year. I also loved Playwriting I with Elmo Terry-Morgan: we had to write a play and produce it, and it was incredible – one of the best experiences I’ve had to date.

What are you extracurricular activities? Even though I’m concentrating in business, I still write on the side and I still write with people from my old poetry Slam team. I’m a TA (Teacher Assistant) for ENGN 9 and next semester I’ll be TAing another literature class in the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies department. I also play a lot of basketball, about 6-7 hours a week, and I’m the head of East Asian departmental undergraduate group (DUG), so I plan its events, take charge of degree day, set up professor lunches – it keeps me busy.

Why did you choose Brown? Actually, the first time I visited campus, I thought it was really dreary because it was raining and I didn’t have fun; I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. Then the second time I came to East Coast, I decided to check out Brown again, and this time, I felt very comfortable: I usually get really sleepy during info sessions, since they’re all very similar, but at Brown I was struck by how passionate the session leader was about what he was saying. I’m the type of person that knows what I like and don’t like, and has an idea of the type of person that I want to be. After my second visit, I felt that Brown was, and still is, the perfect place for me get there, to become that person.

Do you have favorite spot on campus, or in Providence?  There is also a lovely spot about twenty minutes away from main campus: if you walk back towards Wayland Square, there is a little wooden area near Blackstone Park through which you can stroll down to the lake where the crew team practices, and it’s one of the most beautiful walks that I’ve ever been on.

Can you share a fond memory that you had at Brown? I have a clear memory of this night during early Freshman year: a couple of friends and I went to the Waterfire festival downtown, and at that time I literally had six friends, but we happened to run into some other people that I knew really well, and together we walked along the river and ate food. When we returned to campus, we had some burgers at Johnny Rockets on Thayer, and some of my friends started talking about this album they both really loved; the way they were describing it made everyone very excited to hear it, so we went back to my room in Andrews, laid down on the floor, and listened to the album back to back. Throughout the entire time we didn’t say a single thing, we just laid there listening to the entire album. I’ve never done that before.

Speaking of albums, what is a song that captures your character, or your time at Brown? I can tell you about one of my favorite songs: Build me up Buttercup by The Foundation. I love Motown, because it’s music that makes you happy, and my time at Brown has been happy – really transformative, really magical.

Words of wisdom for prospective first years? This is for people going to college in general, and I always tell my sister this: my years at Brown have gotten progressively better, but I wish I had as much fun in my first year as I am having now. Maybe it was partially to do with being far away from home on the East Coast, but I had reservations about jumping into certain events. When you feel that there is something you really want to do, just do it. If there’s a great party, go to it; if there’s a cool play, ask someone to go with you; if you meet someone cute in your class, you should definitely try to get to know them. Because why not? You’re only here for four years.

Know someone who belongs in this column? Think YOU deserve a student highlight? Send me an email at and we’ll make it happen!


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