For someone who never expected to be in politics, Kathy Kim ’12 (Bellevue, Wash.) has come far: Next fall she’ll begin her term as president of the Macalester College Student Government.
The economics major started her climb up the political ladder as a sophomore class representative on the student services committee. “I felt comfortable running for office here at Mac, where I know so many students and am connected to the experience,” she says. “Student government has allowed me to really get to know the college and be engaged in it.”
One of her first priorities will be to help determine what to do with the extra $75,000 MCSG discovered in its budget last spring. The fact that MCSG had significantly underspent its budget was controversial among students, some of whose organizations had their financial requests turned down. Deferring the decision to the fall “should make it a less heated discussion,” says Kim.
Because the money is a one-time windfall, she and other campus leaders are hoping that students will agree to spend it on a capital project such as renovating the Kirk Hall computer lab or renovating the basement of Dupre—something that would benefit all students. She’s also determined that the MCSG do a better job in the future with its bookkeeping and budget.
Another initiative Kim would like to see on campus is more programming around socioeconomic differences. A first-generation college student whose family emigrated from South Korea in the 1990s, Kim says Mac is good about addressing racial and international differences but not as strong on addressing class differences. She came to college, she says, wondering about “all kinds of simple questions that other high school graduates take for granted, like, What’s a major? What’s an adviser? What’s a thesis?”
Despite having declared an economics major, Kim fell in love with art history during a semester spent in Italy. Her new career goal is to work in a museum after graduation. “Museums are among the most effective ways to enact social change,” she says. To that end, her student job next year is fitting: she’ll be the Civic Engagement Center’s Arts for Social Change coordinator.
But before pursuing an arts career, Kim is considering the Peace Corps or Teach for America. As a scholarship student whose mother worked constantly at her crepe-making business (“family vacations were never a reality for us”), she feels “a strong responsibility to move on and forward to whatever I’m capable of doing.”