Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
Senior communication major in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Kaitlyn Vanklompenberg applied and was accepted to ASU's Leadership Scholarship Program, following in the footsteps of her older sister Kat. The prestigious program comes with a four-year scholarship and allowed Vanklompenberg to meet many ambitious, like-minded individuals who grew into some of her closest friends. It also allowed her to develop and craft her leadership skills, as she says, "truly becoming a better leader and human."
A member of the 2016 cohort, Vanklompenberg introduced herself to the group as having a passion for music, admitting to spending all of her money on concerts. "I’ve learned how to play the violin, viola and piano and I am trying to learn the guitar." Vanklompenberg, who is half Vietnamese, also told her cohorts, "I will take you all to get phó and boba."
It was through her experience at LSP where she discovered Changemaker Central, an ASU community of like-minded students that are leading social change in our local and global community. Inspired by her love of storytelling and spoken word, Vanklompenberg applied for and received the paid position of "Storytelling Series Chair." The position, she says, entailed planning and executing university-wide events that hosted nationally recognized speakers telling their stories.
"While a time-consuming and at times overwhelming position, I always walked out of the office feeling productive and confident in what I was doing."
ASU Now sat down with Vanklompenberg to find out more about her ASU experience.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: Nearing the end of my junior year in high school, I fell into the world of poetry, spoken word and storytelling. Soon after, I began performing in talent shows, at coffee shops and in front of my close friends and family members. Through this, I was able to recognize the importance of communication. I often feel like people are uninterested in what I have to say — when I have a microphone and a stage, they can’t help but pay attention. This hobby has turned into a passion of mine!
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: I am currently enrolled in COM452 Communication of Happiness and you would not believe the number of people I have told about this course. I am not exaggerating when I say this class has changed my life! When entering this class, I, admittedly thought it would be an easy class discussing the mere philosophy of happiness. To my surprise, this class has challenged me like no other. I have been able to change multiple aspects of life because of this class and it has been highly impactful. While typically maintaining a positive attitude toward life, this class has given me the tools to make every day count. Through means of weekly journaling or exercising consistently, this class has taught me how to be happier. I am so lucky that ASU offers this class and would recommend it to everyone.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: ASU has been a part of my family for decades. Many of my aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings have attended and graduated from ASU. Side note: My mom is currently back in school at ASU hoping to earn her bachelor’s in 2020! Go, Mom! To keep this tradition, I always knew I would apply for this university. After initially applying, I was accepted into LSP which further solidified my choice to attend Sun Devil Nation!
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Try to have an optimistic outlook. When you get a bad grade, move on and do better next time. When you have to do a group project with people you don’t know, get to know them! Try to exit college with as many positive memories as you can — and that starts with your attitude!
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My favorite spot on campus is definitely the lounge area on the first floor of the Stauffer building. Having so many communication classes there, I would always find myself in that room either before or after class. The quiet space allows me to catch up on homework, meet up with a friend or just relax. I also noticed that non-com majors don’t know about it, so it hardly ever gets crowded!
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am planning to continue my education at ASU within the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. I am hoping to earn a master’s degree within the same field I am currently in!
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Unfortunately, I could answer this with many options, and it is difficult to choose one. I am passionate about many things — social justice, sustainability, health rights, and more. When thinking off the top of my head, I am reminded of a topic that many overlook — the period problem. Overall, the fact that companies charge women around the world for pads/tampons/etc. is a capitalistic problem that will not slow down anytime soon. On top of that, there are countless countries with outrageous limitations toward women because of their menstrual cycle (ex: Uganda, Sierra Leone). Some women are restricted from cooking food while on their period or bathing near any shared utensils. Some women are contracting bacterial infections and even die due to their lack of resources in regard to period blood collection. Underdeveloped countries lack the knowledge it takes to fully understand menstruation; therefore, periods are treated as “taboo.” In conclusion, while there are countless problems we could tackle, I would focus on the lack of knowledge and rights surrounding menstruation and the women that experience it.
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