Esther Ahn

Hometown, Fullerton, CA
The five days at KAC’s National College Leadership Conference were hands down the best way I could’ve started my summer. I had been planning to begin my first week of break sleeping in, and relaxing by the pool but this conference took me by surprise. It was extremely eye-opening in terms of strengthening my identity as a Korean-American and exposing me to the issues that our community as a whole face. It redefined what it meant for me to be a leader and a Korean-American as well. I went expecting to have speakers lecture at us and teach what they believed were the definitions of both. However, each and every panel speaker had conversations with us about their experiences and stories allowing us to formulate our own paths and narratives. Each speaker inspired me in their own way and helped me to realize that I shouldn’t just wait for someone else to create the solution or take the chance. Even if I am Korean-American, part of the minority, and less privileged, I can do anything too. It encouraged me to set my goals higher and find areas where I could give back to those around me. Not only were the speakers amazing, but the counselors and peers I met became the community and friends that I couldn’t have met anywhere else. Despite having different interests, goals, and stories, our commonality of being Korean-American tied us together. From playing the adjective name game to watching Kingdom late at night to bonding over cup ramyun, we were able to create memories and learn from each other’s stories even outside of the conference room. As each day passed, I grew sad that the week was coming to an end and the five days didn’t feel like enough. Thanks to NCLC, I know that I’ll always have these friends to reach out to and that these five days were only the beginning of our connection. I’m excited to see what we’ll do individually and collectively in the future.