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Staff Spotlight: Kirsten Chang, IEI’s new Digital Communications Specialist

Kirsten Chang say’s she’s just another young person trying to live her best life, and we believe it.

Chang joins the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) as the Digital Communications Specialist and will help tell stories of IEI’s impact across the state. A born and bred North Carolinian, she grew up in an area just east of Asheville and has lived in Montreat, Black Mountain, and Swannanoa, which are three small towns in the beautiful Swannanoa Valley. She’s excited to work for IEI here at NC State University because of the work she feels the organization and the university is doing to make our home state a better place. “As a communicator, I’m excited to tell the stories of the impact the Institute for Emerging Issues and NC State has on our state,” said Chang.

Chang received her undergraduate degree in English from UNC-Chapel Hill and has a background in storytelling that includes writing and editing for radio, magazines, and children’s books. She says she is always seeking meaningful experiences, from what she does for work, to the relationships she cultivates and the conversations she has. “I try to use my skills to give back to my community. I want to travel and see the world as much as possible,” said Chang. “My relationships with my family and my friends from all stages of my life are very important to me. I’m a storyteller, an introvert, and a future cat lady… I don’t have a cat yet but it will happen soon!”

In 2017-18, Chang completed a service year with the Johnson Service Corps, assisting at a senior community center in Orange County. Chang believes in the transformative power of service—not only for communities, but for the individual who serves. “Service changes communities, and it changes lives. My year with the Johnson Service Corps changed my life and my relationship to my community,” said Chang. “Before, I felt pretty cynical about civic engagement. It can be easy to get disheartened over the state of the world. But my service year showed me how many amazing people are giving back in their local communities and how small acts of service can make a difference.”

It is also this passion and understanding of service that excites Chang about our IEI Service Year NC initiative. Chang says it was this initiative that first drew her to IEI, having attended the IEI Service Year NC reception at the North Carolina Executive Mansion in August 2018. “Young people have so much to gain and so much to give during a service year,” said Chang. “Gaining real world skills while giving back to your community? It’s a win-win. I’m excited to work on promoting IEI’s Service Year NC initiative and hope that more young North Carolinians feel called to serve.”

Chang was previously an editor at a children’s book publisher in Minneapolis, where she helped produce non-fiction books for beginning readers on subjects like science, history, and social studies. As she elaborated on this experience, Chang said, “I’ve always been a big reader, so I was proud to be part of a team creating opportunities for kids to fall in love with books. After I left that role to move back to North Carolina, I stayed involved as a freelance author. I’ve written about 30 children’s books so far. It’s been an amazing opportunity because I’m constantly learning new things.”

Aside from writing children’s books in her spare time, Chang shared that she loves traveling, doing yoga, spending time in nature (hiking and hammocking), thrifting, listening to ABBA and reading of course. Having just finished “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng for her book club, she’s now re-reading the Harry Potter series “for about the millionth time,” she said.  

“Be here now” is a quote Chang lives by. She said, “I try to remind myself to be present in each moment and not get caught up in worries about the past and future. Easier said than done!”

We’re excited to welcome Kirsten to our team and read the stories to come.