This week’s campus celebrity is Kali Staman! Kali is a senior biochemistry major. She juggles two jobs as the head advisor of a local youth group and as a part-time nanny. It is Kali’s last semester at Rowan as she is set to graduate in May. This also means that it is Kali’s last semester as Editor in Chief of Rowan’s literary magazine, Avant.
Most would not guess that a biochemistry major would be interested in running a literary magazine, but Kali knew she wanted to be involved in Avant before setting foot on campus. The advisor to Kali’s high school poetry club was a Rowan graduate. He would talk all the time about Avant, the fun times he had, and how it helped him grow. Kali knew she wanted to keep writing a part of her life. It is an outlet solely for herself, separate from the stress of school (as she says, it gets her out of her “chemistry brain”). Avant was the place to do that.
She became Editor in Chief in the fall of 2014. The spring 2016 issue will be her last issue as editor and as a Rowan University student. When asked what her favorite part of Avant is, she immediately answered, “My staff, hands down.” She loves to talk about her staff members every chance she gets. Kali takes pride in leading a group of great people to produce a fantastic magazine every semester. She receives praise on behalf of her staff and contributors whenever someone picks up the magazine for the first time. She even handed out copies during her interviews for medical school. One interviewer “laughed their face off” when they read one of the staff’s favorite pieces. She suspects that was part of the reason she was accepted.
As a fellow writer, I asked what word she would put in the dictionary. She answered, “Poungy.” Her cousin coined the term to describe her grandfather’s great, big Newfoundland dog. Kali was too young at the time to realize “ploungy” was not a real word. The closest thing to an exact definition would be “those big dogs that just floof around.”
Kali encourages any Rowan student with an appreciation for writing, whether they are a veteran wordsmith, an eager beginner, or a lover of reading, to attend a meeting. The Avant staff meets from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm on Wednesdays in Owl’s Nest in the student center. Copies of Avant can be found at various locations around campus, like in the Campbell Library.
After she graduates, Kali will be returning to Rowan in a way. In August she begins medical school at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (or CMSRU). Kali has four more years of school and her residency to look forward to, but she is excited to start working hands-on with patients. She mainly is just excited to learn. She compares her love of medicine to a poetry lover who would read every poetry book in existence if they could. Med school will keep her busy, but she plans to continue writing for herself. Kali also believes her writing skills will lend themselves to scientific and medical publishing.
Despite running Avant, completing her school work, and preparing for med school, she does have some free time. She likes to spend that time running obstacle course races. I usually think of obstacle courses in high school gym class, but these are far from high school PE. Kali competes in Spartan Races and she described the typical course as “marine corps boot camp if you squished it down into five miles and plopped it on the top of a mountain.” The races include everything from monkey bars, rope climbs, and crawling in mud under barb wire. They span anywhere from five to thirteen miles long with twenty to thirty obstacles. At the end, you must jump over fire to cross the finish line. It requires a lot of time and effort to stay in physical shape for the races, but Kali finds the races a great test of her determination. Besides Spartan Races, Kali also enjoys hiking and kayaking. Any vacation spent in the outdoors is a good one for her.
Kali certainly is drawn to any challenge. When her schedule gets insane, Kali thinks of a saying her mother told her. When she was younger and the stress was overwhelming, her mother would look at her and ask, “K, how do you eat an elephant?” Of course, Kali didn’t know the answer to a question that made no sense. Her mother would answer for her, “One bite at a time.” So Kali takes life one day at a time, even one hour at a time. It doesn’t matter how busy she is or how much work it is, she goes after it with all of her determination. Her advice to underclassmen urges them to have that same gumption. Every person should find that goal that drives them to accomplish it no matter how long it takes. If you are considering doing anything you should “suck in your gut and do it.” By the end you’ll have a great story, and if you don’t do it, you’ll probably regret it. She sums up her outlook on life as, “if you’re going to overwhelm yourself, overwhelm yourself with things that you enjoy.” Kali certainly lives by those words.
From everyone at Her Campus, we wish Kali well on her last semester and her next great adventure!