According to her WesCeleb nomination, Julia Kan ’22 is a “ball of light who literally does it all.” This is no exaggeration—Kan has spent the past four years fully engaged with all corners of campus, from the art studios to the biology labs, all with a smile on her face. Outside of academics, Kan’s a star singer and violinist, a Community Advisor for The Office of Residential Life (ResLife), and a friend to everyone she encounters. This week, The Argus sat down with Kan to get the scoop on her Wes experience.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated to be a WesCeleb?
Julia Kan: Oh my God. Girl, I don’t know. I have friends on The Argus? No, I don’t know. I think I’m involved in a lot of different things on campus. That’s probably a very generic answer, but I think it’s true. I’m a STEM person and an arts person because I’m a double major in Molecular Bio[logy] & Biochem[istry] and Studio Art, so I feel like I know a lot of different people, and I’m also a CA for ResLife, for senior wood frames and Fauver.
A: Can you tell me more about that?
JK: Basically, we oversee all of those residents and try to build community, which is kind of difficult because it’s such a big group, but we have to organize events and stuff. I organized a volleyball tournament a couple of weeks ago, and refereed for it, and felt very underqualified. But it was really fun, I feel like it was well-received and I got to see faces from the senior class that I didn’t really see before. The Fountain [Ave] crowd is a different crowd. Being a CA also helps me meet people in ResLife, which is really fun because people come from all different corners of campus on staff.
A: Can you tell me more about your majors and how you decided on them?
JK: So I came into Wesleyan pretty much being very dead set on doing some sort of STEM major and some sort of art related major because I really liked both of those in high school. I did a lot of music all throughout high school, playing violin in orchestra, and all those things. And I like science a lot, so I was like, bio and maybe music or studio art, but I wasn’t really sure, and eventually I decided on Molecular Bio because I think it’s more interesting. I don’t really care for ecology—no offense to animals. I think it connects a lot to my future career interest, which is medicine. And then my studio art major was like, ‘I did some drawing in high school just by myself, kind of self-taught, I feel like I should try it more seriously in college, because I did music so much [in high school]’, so I was like, ‘maybe I won’t do music in college, maybe I’ll just do it on the side, ‘cause I’ll always have it.’ So I chose to do studio [art], and it’s been really fun.
A: Are you working on any senior project or thesis?
JK: Yes, oh my God. I’m doing my senior studio thesis for drawing, which is a two-semester-long process, and in the spring you do a solo exhibition in the Zilkha Gallery, which is very intimidating and weird, and I feel a lot of imposter syndrome, because I’m like, ‘I’m not a real artist, what makes me worthy of exhibiting in a real gallery?’ But it’s been interesting to experiment with stuff. I’m trying to make my work about domestic spaces relating to my Chinese-American identity, kind of working on layering and collaging and memory. A lot of American-born Chinese people feel like they have a foot in two places, one in the States and one in China, where their family immigrated from. So I’m trying to express that through the space of a home. We’ll see how it goes.
A: How do you feel about being a senior?
JK: It’s weird. I was really scared of this year, especially because last year was pretty challenging because of [COVID-19] and everything else, but I love being a senior so far. I love my housemates—shoutout to 85 Home. Having your own living space is really nice and I feel like I know people on campus more and leading stuff is also interesting, being put into that position. But it’s definitely weird, I’m getting a lot of sentimental things coming up for me. I’ll pass somewhere on campus and I’ll be like, ‘aw, that’s where freshman year I did this stupid thing.’ So, weird but good.
A: Speaking of past memories, do you have any favorite memories from Wes that stick out to you?
JK: There’s a lot. Probably one of my favorite memories was with my acapella group, Notably Sharp, freshman year. We did our first concert—I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but kegcert—which is where people host it at their house and invite all their friends at night and it’s really, really fun. That’s a favorite memory.
Also, one time I was in SciLi with my friend Isabella and we were studying for spring finals and I had not gotten sleep for the past three days. It was a Friday morning I think, and I’d just taken a final or submitted something, and I approached her in SciLi and I was an absolute zombie, and then I sat on the chair next to her and I don’t even know what I was doing, but my bag was still on my back, and I was moving around and was like, ‘okay I have to go to Olin and do work.’ I got up, and there was this rotten banana from Usdan that had been in my bag for like 3 days, and it was all over the chair. And it spilled out of my bag and squelched on the floor and I was in such a state of distress and emotional instability and so I just started crying. And there was banana all over the floor and she had to go to the bathroom and get paper towels to wipe down the banana because I was crying. That is a fond memory I look back on. Oh, finals season.
A: Do you have any advice for your freshman self?
JK: I would say that it’s good that you’re trying lot of things, but it’s okay to let some things go when you’re feeling like it’s not right for you at that time, and you can always go back to certain things once you feel like that’s a space [you] want to be in again. Just being more of an advocate for myself, that’s what I would say.
A: Do you have any favorite spaces on campus?
JK: I love the CFA [Center For The Arts]. I’m in there a lot, the music studios especially. I’ve played a lot of violin in there with some good friends and sang a lot in there. The lobby and the practice rooms and the basement are definitely a favorite space. I’m starting to like my thesis studio; it’s a room in a house on Washington Street, very far away. It’s 346 Washington, between Farm and Lotus House. I’m finally putting lamps and cozy things in there. And then my house, obviously. And Olin. Olin’s my O.G.
A: Is there anything else you want to add?
JK: What parts of my identity are worth sharing here? [laughs] I guess music has also been a really big part of my time at Wes. I coordinate this music mentoring program at Oddfellows Playhouse and teach music to kids. I hire Wesleyan students to do that, and I feel like it’s been really grounding and good to run that program because you can make connections with the Middletown community and not just stay in the Wesleyan bubble, because I really feel caught up in campus life sometimes, so that’s something I’m really grateful for.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Annie Roach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.