The Center Student Advisory Board: Interview with Carissa Yang ’21

Since its creation, the Center has made engaging students a primary part of our mission. How do we ensure our success? We rely on the passion, creativity, and informed perspective of our Student Advisory Board (SAB). This talented group of students helps us design, run, and publicize events. They serve as a bridge between students and faculty, helping the Center choose speakers and host events which fit the current climate on campus, and appeal to multiple audiences.

Carissa Yang ’21

Carissa Yang (pictured left) has been a member of the Center SAB for two and a half years, since her second semester at Colby. A member of the Class of 2021, Carissa is majoring in Psychology, with a concentration in Neuroscience, and minoring in Chemistry. It might seem odd that a STEM student is so deeply invested in the arts and humanities, but Carissa believes that having a variety of perspectives is a strength. With limited time to explore her love for the humanities in her coursework, Carissa joined the SAB to become deeply involved in the humanities in a different ways—including personal interactions with world-famous guest speakers.

Carissa first heard about the SAB when she attended a number of Center events during the fall of her first year. She says that the Board gave her the chance to explore the humanities side of her scholarship, and that she has found great value in interdisciplinary work. She appreciates that the Center engages the local community as well as the Colby campus, and says that being part of the SAB has given her valuable real-world experiences. She has honed her leadership skills, expanded her perspective, and learned to think critically about her choices and how she approaches the world.

Carissa found her footing in the SAB through its many events and activities. Each year, for example, the SAB helps to choose a keynote speaker, often an author. Then the Board forms a book club, distributing copies of one of the guest speaker’s works to interested students, staff, and faculty in preparation for the speaker’s visit. Last year the Center’s keynote speaker was Roxane Gay, the renowned author, feminist, and social commentator. The book club read Hunger, a memoir that discusses Gay’s relationship to her own body in the wake of trauma. The book club is one of Carissa’s favorite aspects of the SAB because it gives her and the other SAB members the opportunity to interact with students, faculty, and staff from all walks of life across campus. She says that it’s also a great way to introduce students to professors they might never have otherwise met. Members of SAB were able to meet privately with Roxane Gay during her visit to campus, and Carissa greatly appreciated this opportunity. She also enjoys collaborating with different SABs across campus (the Center Board often collaborates with the Museum Board, the Goldfarb Center Board, and the Oak Institute Board).

Recently, due to her exemplary work and leadership in the SAB, Carissa was invited to be a panelist for an admissions event about the Center. She spoke to newly admitted students about how their choices will affect their experience at Colby, and how her own choice to join the Center SAB had shaped the last couple years of her life. Carissa encourages students from all different disciplines to attend Center events, take Humanities Labs or theme courses, and apply to join the Center SAB; not just for the sake of learning and pursuing their own passions, but for the benefit of the community. If you think that the Center SAB is the right choice for you, please email Megan Fossa at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by Ayla Fudala, Environmental Humanities Program Coordinator