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life with K

Life with K Spring 2024

Broader Perspective, Brighter Opportunities

Liz Fiator '16

When Liz Fiator ’16 received an email in March 2023 about an opening on the Kalamazoo College Board of Trustees, she thought it might be a mistake.

“I assumed that the board was made up of people who are much more experienced,” Fiator said. “I didn’t even realize that there was a young alumni position on the board.”

Fortunately, Fiator paused before deleting the email (her first instinct), re-read it, and decided to reply. In her first year on the board, she has already found new insight into the College and areas where she feels passionate about helping make the K experience she loved even better for current and future students.

“I graduated just a few years ago, so I still have that student perspective, and to gain insight from the other side about how the school works was eye-opening for me,” Fiator said. “When I was a student, I remember that there were things we would get upset about, like, why is the administration doing that? Now I can see they’re not arbitrary or easy decisions; these are very well-thought-out and often difficult decisions to make.

“As a student, you sometimes feel like the trustees are out of touch, or like the school is a business that just cares about making money. I was blown away by how many people genuinely care about the school and are invested in making the best decisions that can be made.”

Fiator appreciates that President Jorge G. Gonzalez and board members are committed to broadening access to a K education and study abroad experience. A native of Ghana who participated in a high school exchange program in Michigan and attended a local college before transferring to K, Fiator recently established a scholarship for international students with financial need. She wants more people to know that transfer students can thrive at K.

Her other hope for her time on the board is to be part of addressing the stress culture at K.

“I understand that stress of wanting things to work out, especially if you come from a background like mine, where you’re the first to go to college and there isn’t a lot of money,” Fiator said. “Everything feels like life or death, but sometimes these things don’t end up mattering as much as we think. It’s OK to fail. You can get to where you need to go without perfect grades, and one failure doesn’t define your entire experience.”

A computer science major who now lives in Toronto and works as a senior software engineer for Intuit, Fiator values her K experience for making it easy for her to explore her natural curiosity—“Where else would I be studying computer science and taking a class about Japanese theatre?”—and for preparing her for the real world, particularly through her senior seminar.

Serving on the board offers her a way to continue satisfying her curiosity, as well as paying forward the opportunities she is grateful to have received.

Life With K
Engaged alumni help move Kalamazoo College to higher levels of excellence. You can advance K’s mission and help build its reputation as one of the country’s exceptional liberal arts colleges.
  1. Identify and recruit prospective students.
  2. Develop students through mentoring and career preparedness opportunities.
  3. Participate in alumni lifelong learning opportunities.
  4. Serve as a volunteer.
  5. Make a charitable contribution.

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