Derek Keng finds connection through clubs
When Derek decided to come to Iowa State, he had never actually set foot on the university’s campus.
Derek, originally from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, learned about Iowa State from a representative who came to visit his school. During their conversation, the representative told Derek about the food science program at Iowa State. After going home and doing more research, Derek decided that Iowa State, and specifically the food science program, was for him.
After packing all of his belongings into two suitcases and spending over 40 hours traveling, Derek arrived at Iowa State.
“It really wasn’t what I expected,” Derek said. “The thing that surprised me the most was the size. I’m from a really dense city. Ames is like two and a half cities back home.”
Derek quickly became involved in multiple clubs on campus and found they were beneficial to him for a number of reasons.
“Food Science Club gave me the opportunity to network, and that’s one of the biggest benefits of these clubs,” he said. “It’s a very friendly community. When I first got here I was kind of awkward and didn’t know how people interacted, and they helped me to get adjusted.”
He is also involved with the Ames Student Association for Malaysians, and he regularly participates in the Guang Hwa Lion Dance. This has allowed him to stay connected to his culture and meet students with similar life experiences.
“I liked how homey it felt,” Derek said. “We discuss all the food and events we’re missing, and it brings me back to home.”
While Derek enjoys all of his classwork and has many goals for the future, he says that one of the most important lessons he’s learned at Iowa State is having a balance of work and play.
“It’s good if you can study well, but it’s even better if you have friends to do it with.”