Kevin Zhen

Year of Graduation: 

There’s this caring, empathetic attitude that naturally pulls Exonians together.

Kevin Zhen is a senior from Miami, Florida. (The first time he saw snow was here on campus.) He’s class president, plays piano, helps lead Exeter’s breakdance club, volunteers weekly at the Harris Family Children’s Center, is a dorm proctor, and served as team manager for the volleyball team.

Before I heard about Exeter, I didn’t even know a school like this existed. Ms. Daley (an admissions officer) came to my middle school and showed us a video of Exeter that featured Dan Brown ’82 (author of ”The Da Vinci Code”), Exeter’s library and all kinds of sports and extracurricular activities. It was amazing. Immediately, I knew I wanted to go there.

Zhen (center) with Cilley Hall dormmates
When I got here, there were so many opportunities to try new things. I was able to discover new interests and find what I liked to do. It also gave me the chance to meet different kinds of people as I gradually opened up and expanded my circle.

I remember lying in bed in my dorm during my first winter here. A senior came in and asked me how I was doing and if I was struggling with anything. I talked to him, he listened and really understood, and then he shared his own story with me. Even today, it’s one of my most treasured Exeter memories and meant a lot to me that he did that. I realized the people who lived with me were not just my dormmates, but my new family: friends and boys who truly cared about me and what I did with myself at Exeter.

Together, Carissa Chen ’17, Pranay Vemulamada ’16 and Zhen organized "We All Bleed Red," a special art installation centered around themes of identity

I don't think anyone is going to graduate from Exeter without at least one close friend —  and this is a special place because of that. People really care about each other here. Maybe it’s because we live together, but I know for a fact that many other schools lack this sense of genuine community. Here there are times when people have prioritized my well-being over anything else. There’s this caring, empathetic attitude that naturally pulls Exonians together.

Because of that, Exeter is now the place I call home.