Student Stories

Kevin Yang

Inspiring Creativity: Kevin Yang '14

Kevin Yang’s ’14 words have the power to evoke a whole range of emotions and inspire audiences. While he won many accolades for his slam poetry performances throughout his time at Hamline, it was his graduation speech in 2014 that brought tears to the eyes of those gathered to celebrate on Old Main Mall.

Commencement is an important milestone for all students, but for Yang it also represented a hard-fought first for his family.  

“I think about my own mother and father. A story far too common throughout this world. They fled a country that did not allow them to belong, spent years in refugee camps along the Thai border.” Yang said in his speech. “[They] came to the United States of America wide-eyed and unsure about how this new place would greet them, learned first-hand how cruel it can be to be a person with nowhere to call home, learned first-hand how important it is to create a place for others.” 

Despite the nervousness he felt when he arrived as a first-year, first-generation college student, Yang found his place at Hamline. He excelled in academics as a political science major and urban studies minor, and became a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society. He was also a leader in organizations such as the Asian Pacific American Coalition, Hmong Student Association, Multicultural Alliance, and Hamline Undergraduate Student Council.

Yang explored his creative side as a four-year member of the Hamline University Poetry Slam and competed in the 2012 and 2014 College Union Poetry Slam Invitationals. The synergy of his academic and creative talents were impossible to deny when listening to his commencement speech.

"We are all here today because of someone. How beautiful is that? All of us from all different walks of life sharing this place here today,” Yang said. “Even in moments where I've felt most lost, my time here has taught me how important it is to create a place for others."

Yang is now fusing his talents to help create a meaningful place and give voice to young people. As an Americorps Promise Fellow at Intermedia Arts, Yang facilitates after-school programming to engage young people in the arts. Through creative outlets such as filmmaking, writing, and performance, Yang provides a platform for young people to speak about issues that are important to them through a medium that engages their passions.

Find out more about the political science major and the wide-variety of student organizations at Hamline, or contact Hamline's Undergraduate Admission Office to learn more about joining the Hamline community. Watch the full video of Yang's speech above.