For much of her life, Priscilla Kang ’22 struggled to articulate her own story. As a Korean American, she felt like she didn’t fully belong to either culture; and as an only child, she didn’t have a sibling to confide in when she experienced emotional turmoil. It was at Syracuse University that Kang finally found the channels through which she could achieve a sense of personal direction and fulfillment: storytelling and photography.
Kang was drawn to the programs offered at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “I knew I wanted to go to school on the East Coast, but I didn’t want to be in a huge city because I wanted to focus on my studies,” says the California native. “I thought I was interested in being a newscaster, but I ended up finding my place in photography after taking some intro classes.” That set her on a path to shape a career in the video photography business, so she added majors in both management and marketing management in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.
“I think I’m dipping into the creative right side of my brain with photography and enriching the left side of my brain with business management and marketing,” Kang says. “To be a leader in your field, you have to know how to create things, but then you also have to know how to manage your finances. I think the three majors work very well together.”
Faculty Support Is Key
Kang says that getting to know her professors has had a profound impact on the quality of her college experience. “In my time at Syracuse University, I have experienced only kindness from every one of my professors,” she says. “If you show genuine passion for what you do, the faculty will always be there. They exceed my expectations in providing the resources I need as a student.”
Those connections have provided her with unique opportunities to fulfill her potential. “I’m so grateful to Newhouse professor Bruce Strong, who notified visual communications students that Fujifilm was hosting a contest for multimedia storytelling students,” she says. The Students of Storytelling Contest invited students from colleges across the U.S. to submit proposals for stories that could be effectively illustrated using photographs or videos. “This opportunity allowed me to share my story of being Korean and American, yet somehow neither at the same time,” Kang explains. “And I won!”
If you show genuine passion for what you do, the faculty will always be there. They exceed my expectations in providing the resources I need as a student.
“My entry was about my Korean American roots and my reconciliation of the two clashing cultures within my identity,” Kang says. “In March, I found out that I was a dual citizen—American and Korean—and it came as a shock to me. I had spent half my life trying to deny my Korean identity and my parents’ heritage.” As one of 30 winners across the country, Kang was awarded photography gear valued at nearly $3,000. “I’m currently working with Fujifilm to explore possibilities for future internships,” she says. “I became really connected with the industry just before the end of my sophomore year.”
Kang’s mentors at Whitman have led her to additional prospects. “Professor Monforte, my accounting instructor, noted how well I did in her class,” she says. “She put me on a list of ‘accounting superstars’ in a program that’s full of opportunities for accounting internships and meetings with people in the ‘Big 4’ accounting firms.”
A Summer SOURCE Grant
Last summer, Kang was awarded a grant from The SOURCE—the Syracuse University Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement. It provides funding of up to $5,000 to undergraduates who conduct research and complete creative projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. “I originally wanted to create a documentary about the negative effects of the strict study culture on adolescents in East Asia, but because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, I took the opportunity to self-study media production,” Kang says. “I learned how to use different applications, including Blender for 3D modeling. I also learned how to create a commercial from start to finish and honed my skills in end-to-end digital media production. And now I work for The SOURCE as a student research mentor!”
Throughout my time at Syracuse University, I have learned that if you tackle your dreams with passion, they will come true.
She also works as an office assistant and photographer for the Visitors Center at Newhouse. “I get to work in the studio taking headshots, and I create graphic designs for the Visitors Center’s social media platforms, presentations and advising office. I have an amazing boss, Wes Whiteside, and it’s a flexible position that allows me to enjoy myself and improve my strengths in media.”
“Throughout my time at Syracuse University, I have learned that if you tackle your dreams with passion, they will come true,” says Kang. “And you’ll connect with other passionate people who will push you to be even better at what you love to do.”
As a Syracuse University student, Kang is certain she landed in the right place for her college experience. “I feel such love and support from my professors,” she says. “When I graduate, it will be because of them that I have the knowledge to back up the qualifications written on my diploma. I will feel grateful to all the people who supported me.”
This story was first published on December 22, 2020 and last updated on .
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