When he isn’t dancing up a storm, Nathaniel Kung is engaging with the decision-making process at PCC
Photos and Story by Misty Bouse
For Nathaniel Kung, 17, attending Portland Community College satisfies his intellectual curiosity and enriches an already complex life. The Sunset High School honor roll student, mathlete, and national ballroom dance competitor started Early College High School just last year but is now also leading the Associated Students of PCC (ASPCC) as its president.
“I chose to attend PCC because it perfectly aligns with my academic interests as an Early College student,” said Kung, who intends to earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year university. “The higher level of academic rigor at PCC compared to my high school education is particularly appealing.”
Describing himself as a big believer in the power of critical thinking and problem-solving, he enjoys tackling challenges. With an admitted “soft spot for finance” and a desire to dabble in business, he thinks combining these specialties with engineering will enable him to approach problems from a unique perspective to make a greater impact.
Besides studying, Kung is also representing student voices and advocating for student needs by serving as the student representative on the PCC Board of Directors for 2023-2024.
“By being a part of and actively engaging with the decision-making process at PCC, I can help bring student input into spaces that shape policies, advocate for improvements in academic and campus life, and ensure that students’ needs and perspectives are given the attention they deserve at the highest levels of the college’s leadership,” said Kung.
Kung sees himself as the bridge between the student body and the college administration. He has focused on access to technology as one of his top priorities.
“I often, unfortunately, see students who are unable to access technology due to reasons outside of their control,” he continued. “In our current society, having access to not only technology but also Wi-Fi is critical for student success in school and in their daily lives. Because of this gap in access to technology, my goal is to work toward making technology more accessible.”
To help alleviate such barriers, the college recently implemented a solution, placing tech-savvy student-employees as guides, or Digital Navigators, in all campus libraries. The digital inclusion effort offers ongoing assistance with affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application support.
Beyond his advocacy and academic pursuits, Kung has immersed himself in the world of ballroom dancing for over a decade. Engaging in showcases, competing at nationals, and also teaching, Kung is devoted to dance.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Kung reflected. “Ballroom dancing is more than just fancy footwork, it’s a form of self-expression. And that’s why I’m so passionate about teaching the next generation of dancers.
“It’s not just about teaching the technical stuff,” he continued. “It’s about instilling a deep love for this beautiful art form and empowering young dancers to express themselves in a way that’s authentic and captivating. It’s pretty incredible to watch kids grow, not just as dancers, but as confident, expressive individuals.”
Similarly, he said, that transformation can happen when students engage with student government to enjoy collaborative opportunities and find resources that can be the alchemy for their own development.
“It isn’t just a college, it’s a community,” Kung said. “Being on campus, interacting with other students and teachers is an experience you won’t get anywhere else. You grow alongside this fantastic community, and you meet some incredible people along the way. Explore these programs, and make the most of your time here.”
This ASPCC President embodies a multifaceted approach to education and personal growth, combining academic excellence, leadership, advocacy, and a deep passion for the arts that surely will inspire many.
For more information on student leadership and resources, visit https://www.pcc.edu/student-life/.