Tzu Kit Chan: Occidental’s most involved student

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tzu kit chan
Tzu Kit Chan at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 30, 2022. Eddie Dong/The Occidental

According to the Instagram account, Oxy Confessions, Tzu Kit Chan (senior) from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was thought to be a bot due to the massive amount of emails he sends to the student body. He has written to students about the SpaceX rocket launch, entrepreneurship, drones, venture capital and weightlifting competitions — and much more. His email sign-offs have told students to “seek discomfort,” and that “it’s okay to not be okay.”

“We’re all the same. We all have certain struggles. We all have certain empathetic experiences that are very human,” Chan said.

You might find Chan at club meetings, at the gym weightlifting, at the studio practicing pole dancing or in Jazz Ensemble playing the piano. If he is not at a meeting, he might be studying for one or both of his majors: philosophy and Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture (CSLC).

Tzu Kit Chan always makes time to go to the Alumni Gym at Occidental College. Photo courtesy of Tzu Kit Chan.

Chan said he has started 16 clubs. He said he sees the promise of founding clubs because he wants to explore his curiosity, learn faster and build community around niche topics.

“‘Building’ is one of the words that I really love,” Chan said. “It means that you can make something happen, you can make [things] happen from an idea to real life. How do you get there? You often need a team who can execute.”

Chan said he is looking for ambitious and competent nerds.

“The most common feedback I get is ‘Tzu, I love your energy,'” Chan said. “I’m very entrepreneurial. I love to try things. I’ll have this idea that’s vague and not really well baked, but I’m like — let’s run with it, let’s see how far it goes, and hit a wall. It’s okay that I hit a wall, as long as I started.”

Chan said one of the major reasons for his extracurricular success comes from his personal identification with effective altruism — a growing movement that strides toward doing good by utilizing logic and evidence. Chan said he is a part of Occidental’s Effective Altruism Club and Effective Altruism Los Angeles.

Tzu Kit Chan is part of Occidental’s Effective Altruism club. Photo courtesy of Tzu Kit Chan.

Chan said intentionality is key for effective altruism.

“I think many people often get tunnel vision and they lose sight of what they are fighting for,” Chan said. “What are you doing, and why are you doing it? This focus forces us to be very intentional.”

James Steinberger (sophomore), a co-captain of Oxy Barbell club, which Chan co-founded, said he is appreciative of the mentorship that Chan provides the weightlifting club.

Steinberger said he would feel apprehensive telling a seasoned weightlifter what they are doing wrong, but Chan helps him tremendously with his technique.

“He finds the middle ground between telling you exactly what you’re doing wrong but not making it seem like he knows everything,” Steinberger said.

Ariel Shweiki (sophomore), co-president of Oxy K-Tigers, a K-Pop dance club, said her first encounter with Chan was when he started the club. Shweiki said Chan is supportive and kind, and always has a smile and wave to share.

Photo courtesy of Tzu Kit Chan.

“He had a huge stack of papers for all the clubs he was starting and I was like, ‘Okay, this is kind of crazy that he’s so invested,'” Shweiki said. “I haven’t met anyone this driven to put themselves out there.”

Chan said he has had four clubs fail during his time at Occidental because he wanted to invest his time in another interest. When dealing with failure, Chan said it is important to let yourself embrace it.

“Give yourself permission to grieve, pause, explore, try again, celebrate, introspect, be ordinary,” Chan said. “Give yourself permission to dare greatly, give yourself permission to live.”

Chan said he sometimes worries if he is doing enough, even when he has a jam-packed day.

Photo courtesy of Tzu Kit Chan.

“I can thrive under pressure,” Chan said. “[According to my roommates] I have insanely highly levels of energy.”

Chan said the more rigorously we think about how to do the most good, the more we can translate that desire into tangible action.

“Maybe should I plug my Instagram too?” Chan said. “I like to connect with people @tzukitchan.”