Fulfilling a Dream

Karem Mathiang ’18

Karem Mathiang ’18

Karem Mathiang ’18’s family came to the U.S. from Sudan for one compelling reason: to ensure that Karem and his three siblings got a good education. Years later, that dream is coming true. Mathiang, who grew up in New Jersey, discusses his commitment to bettering the welfare of people of color in the U.S. and abroad, the values and lessons he gained from his mother, his early love of animation and much more.


Africana studies (Computer science minor).

Clubs and organizations:  

Black Student Union, MANdatory, Muslim Student Association and Exiled.

Favorite book:

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

Favorite movie:


On choosing a major:

I took African Americans Since Slavery with [Associate] Professor [of History Crystal] Moten, and I enjoyed it—a lot. 

On choosing Dickinson:

Dickinson was a place that I could see myself exploring. It was unfamiliar territory, much different from the city I grew up in.

Favorite place on campus:

Wherever my bed is.

Favorite Dining Hall/campus food:

The mango smoothies at the Quarry.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I have too many interests to be restricted to just one career until I retire, but I know that I want to be successful and wear suits (that’s important), provide for my family (even more important), help others struggling in Sudan as well as students of color in the U.S. (most important) and enjoy whatever time I have left drinking mango smoothies (not as important).

Little-known hobby:

I have a coin collection (don’t judge me).

Proudest accomplishment so far:

Attending college. When my family came to the States, my parents told us we came for one reason—to get a great education. Being a Dickinson student is the ripening fruit of their labor; when I graduate, it will be their dream coming to fruition.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… the creator of my own cartoon show, something like Static Shock, Hey Arnold, Arthur and, especially, The Simpsons. I thought it was cool that somewhere, a grownup, was getting paid to draw and tell stories. This interest in animated tales grew as I got older and discovered anime. I felt like it was a job I could do.

Biggest influence:

This might sound like a cliché, but my mom, without a doubt, has the biggest influence on me. She’s sacrificed so much to give her children things that she never could have dreamed of, and she taught me that if a girl from a small village in Sudan can grow up to do amazing things, then why can’t a boy raised in a small city in New Jersey?

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Published February 9, 2017