by Alex Garcia (Co-President of Kai)
Fall 2016 was a period of renewal for Kai. We launched new programs, recruited new team members, created essential “apocalypse documents” that preserves our institutional memory, and began handing down the reigns to our younger team members.
The Kai Mentorship program, created by long-time Kai member Cindy Horng, was a new program we launched this semester. The program paired six alumni with six students who applied through a competitive application process for a specific mentor. Wesleyan has often tried to create such a program, but it has been delayed countless years in the endless bureaucracy. As such, we promised to share our findings in this pilot with the school so they could learn from our mistakes and successes. The next round of the mentorship program will be announced this upcoming semester and be headed by new Kai member and mentorship program alumnae Saki Ohashi.
Older programs also continued this semester. The speaker series headed by Kai member Pi Paticha brought in the young and dynamic ad-tech entrepreneur Brian Wong. The event attracted around 35 students to the Olson Commons (formerly 41 Wyllys) to hear Mr. Wong speak. At the end of his funny and honest talk, Brian was also kind enough to hand out some free signed copies of his book, “The Cheat Code: Going Off Script to Get More, Go Faster, and Shortcut Your Way to Success.”
The tech trip to NYC was continued this year for it’s third iteration and headed by new leaders, Alvin Chitenea and Marc Esposito. Twelve students were selected to go on the trip and meet with alumni founders and professionals at companies such as Givkwik, Peatix, Alley Interactive, and more. During downtime students got to know each other and practice pitching at Madison Square Park. Our next trip will be during Spring Break for the third annual Silicon Valley trip. This trip was one of our first programs and starting next year Kai alumni will be working in San Francisco and able to give office tours to students. Time sure flies!
Starting next semester many of the senior Kai team members will be involved in teaching the Kai student forum called Kai Labs. Two years ago Mika Reyes taught her first student forum on Human Centered Design and from that experience she created a new project based class that serves real clients in the Wesleyan University community. Kai Labs is divided into two sections and has already enrolled the maximum of 30 students. The engineering section is headed by Daichi Onda and Tim Kim and the Product Manager section is headed by Alex Garcia, Pi Paticha, and Mika Reyes. The Kai team is really excited to be involved in our third student forum. Kai Labs will be more integrated with the Kai organization compared to the previous two. Last semester Kai member Marc Esposito taught a Community Consulting student forum and two years ago was Mika’s Human Centered Design student forum. Student Forums are full credit classes taught by students that have faculty advisors and count towards graduation both for the instructors and students.
In the coming months we’re excited to see our new members take on added responsibilities and come up with their own ideas for programs and partnerships. A main task ahead is fundraising for upcoming trips, our website costs, and competitions and hackathons. We now have a full-time social media coordinator, Eunes Harun, so expect more frequent updates this semester! We’re looking forward to continuing our educational programs in entrepreneurship and ensuring a diverse group of students get all the access and resources they need to succeed.