Campus & community, People, Profiles

For Jenna Kudaimi, writing for fanzines strengthens her community ties

"If I go into a character's mind, it just helps strengthen my empathy," said the first-year Berkeley student, who has worked on fanzines since seventh grade

a person wearing a yellow and green headscarf and glasses stands outside and smiles
Jenna Kudaimi is from San Jose, California, and attended community college for two years of high school. "I really like college way more than high school," said Kudaimi. "Then, coming to Berkeley, I really like the vibes. It feels like a community."

Brittany Hosea-Small for UC Berkeley

This Q&A is part of a series of new student profiles for our 2023 back-to-school coverage. Have someone you think we should write about? Contact [email protected].

Berkeley News: Where are you from, what year are you, and what do you plan to study?

Jenna Kudaimi: I’m from San Jose, California. I hope to major in data science. I’m a first-year student, but I went to community college for two years of high school. It was actually really nice because I made a lot of friends in the community college program. I really like college way more than high school. Then, coming to Berkeley, I really like the vibes. It feels like a community.

Is having a community important to you?

Oh, yeah, for sure. I don’t think I would survive without people to talk to. Even though I don’t know some people very well yet, I made a friend today. My mom says I used to go up to random people when I was 3 and hug them. My brother keeps saying, like, Yeah, you were weird like that. I have no recollection of it.

Are you close with your family? Do you have a strong community within your family?

Yeah, but not my extended family. They live far from me. My dad’s side lives in Chicago and my mom’s side, they’re just scattered all over Europe and the Middle East.

What other ways do you find to connect with people?

I write fiction for fanzines. I do that on the side, and it’s really fun.

Can you tell me more about fanzines? How are you involved?

A group of people artists and writers who like the same thing, like a show or a game, they get together and create a fanzine. I write about the characters. Recently, the one that I got back was called Requiem, and it’s about the video game Omori, and I wrote a little piece about the character, about how he feels and how, because there’s technically two characters, but it’s the same person. It’s kind of hard to explain it without the game. But yeah, I wrote about how these two personalities come together and how he feels about himself.

So you go inside of the characters and imagine how they’re feeling?

Yeah, I love doing that. It’s my favorite thing. I’ve been working on them since seventh grade. My friends and I, we collaborate on making our own characters sometimes, too. It kind of helps me empathize with people. I’m just very empathetic, so if I go into a character’s mind, it just helps strengthen my empathy. Sometimes I’ll have a hard time, and I’ll write my feelings onto the character.

How many have you worked on? Do you have fans?

I’ve worked on four, not including my current one. My friends are my biggest fans. I’m really glad for them. Shout out to all my friends and my family. I love my family.

Do you think that, because you were already in college, it will be an easier transition to Berkeley?

I took a summer class at Berkeley. So yeah, I think it is a little different in terms of class sizes because in community college, the teachers cater to you as a student. And it’s not that they don’t cater here, it’s just a lot harder, with like 400 students in a class. Yeah, but I do think it will help me a little bit because I’m not directly going from high school to community college. I’ve already made that leap.