Downtown Spotlight: Courage

Katherine Kwong

“What does it mean to be a Social Entrepreneur?”

At Westmont Downtown, students come in with varied perceptions of learning, work, and missional living. The program’s design equips them to embrace these multi-faceted identities across different fields and disciplines. To highlight the range of the experiences of our alumni, we are launching a new series. Once a week we will spotlight alumni who have translated their work at Westmont Downtown into current life, work, and faith.

As a downtown alum myself, I’m eager to introduce you to these bright and curious women and men who are bravely navigating post-college life. This series underscores how social entrepreneurship is not confined to the marketplace, but spans all sectors: from audio and live event production to track and field. Stay tuned to see how these entrepreneurs are embracing their creative, image-bearing gifts beyond the semester downtown.

This week we are highlighting the renowned K-Kwong (Katherine Kwong). Katherine is an avid artist and storyteller who currently is interning with The Moth — a non-profit storytelling organization that hosts live events and also produces a podcast, The Moth Radio Hour. Katherine and I connected across time zones: I sat in French Press while Katherine cooked a late night dinner at her apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Katherine is one of the few people I know who will say whatever is on her mind regardless of the social norms she may be breaking. This is what makes Katherine such an excellent innovator and storyteller — she is authentic and unafraid.

While podcasts have been a passion of Katherine’s since sophomore year, her love for them really began to grow as a result of the Westmont Downtown portfolio project. Katherine created a series of audio recordings in the form of a podcast to reflect her thoughts and aspirations. For each of the seventeen questions, she recorded a professor, or friend, or family member, or mentor interviewing Katherine. This project was the perfect outlet for her to develop a deeper connection to the art of audio production, gain valuable editing skills, and craft a polished end product.

Katherine’s broadcasting pursuits continued as she neared graduation. Her voice brightened as she mentioned the internship she landed with On Being Studios, in Minneapolis, Minnesota just months before earning her diploma. A fan of Krista Tippett’s reflective style, Katherine knew this opportunity would familiarize her with the world of production and broadcasting through the lens of contemplative media. After 10 weeks with On Being, she knew she needed to gain more experience in the field. So, she applied to more broadcasting positions including The Moth, where she was offered a six-month position. In her first year as a newly minted B.A. in English, Katherine has lived in Minneapolis, Santa Barbara, and New York City.

Katherine now assists the Moth SLAM team with administrative work, assists with show production management, and coordinates larger events. While this position does not involve airtime or audio recording, she has strategically placed herself in a space that aligns with the things she cares about: authenticity, accessibility, and narrative craft. She considers this a step towards her aspiration to one day create content herself for radio or be an artistic producer.

It was encouraging to hear Katherine share the ways the downtown semester has translated into her current position, one of them being her perspective on work. She is discovering what is means to do good work by finding meaning in the mundane. She is also seeking deeper creativity and the ability to problem-solve with people very different from herself. She is making an effort to take on the role of social entrepreneur by intentionally using spaces she is in — such as meetings with key managers and producers — as opportunities to recognize problem areas and advocate for solutions. Katherine shared a recent staff problem: regional producers lacked key product information. Her solution? Turn The Moth’s monthly newsletter into an explanatory video. Her team agreed and she is now in the process of creating a newsletter video to showcase the merchandise process. Problem solving + design skills = Getting things done.

Speaking with Katherine reminded me that creativity and social entrepreneurship are not confined to specific fields, like art or business. Katherine is pursuing social change in the world of broadcasting and performing arts by connecting more people through beautifully told stories. This is worthwhile work that has implications for our broader society and culture.

I asked Katherine for a final word of wisdom and she joyously expressed:

“At Westmont Downtown, take heart in the fact that you are equipped with the tools you need to pursue what you love. You are capable and you have ideas!”