Over the past three years, Kate Starr has transitioned from a small all-girls Episcopal school in the heart of DC to a huge state school in the Midwest and back to the Northeast for college in downtown Manhattan, where she is currently a sophomore at New York University. Here, the 18-year-old Journalism and Political Science major opens up about rainbow-colored hair, life in the Midwest, and conversations with strangers on the streets of New York City.

Rebel Years: I got to the National Cathedral School in fourth grade, and it took me a little bit to find my footing. I went through a really big punk phase when I was in eighth grade. I dyed my hair white and blue and pink and every color under the sun. I would go to punk shows and hang out with older kids and go out on school nights, and I thought I was so cool. I ended up going out more than I studied, but I went to a really competitive school where it was basically cool to be smart. So in tenth grade I started really putting forth the effort that I knew that I could put forth. I stopped being punk and ended up becoming really great friends with all the girls in my school.

Freshman Year: I grew up in DC, so I thought it would be cool to try a completely different environment for college. I went to Indiana University Bloomington and I ended up hating it. I felt a huge disconnect from the people there. It was 74% white people and 62% were from Indiana, and then a bunch of them were people who had never left their suburban towns. It felt like there was not enough cultural awareness or political activism. People kind of just sat there, and I have never been a person to stay in a situation just because it’s easier. I knew since the first month I got there that I was going to transfer.

City Life: New York City has a strong sense of diversity and political awareness, and I believe those are two of the most important qualities to appreciate in others. I was drawn by the opportunity to meet people who could offer unique perspectives, and that’s one of the many reasons I love New York so far: my favorite thing to do here is to meet people. A lot of times, I’ll see someone I think is interesting and I’ll go up to them and start a conversation, and we’ll actually keep in contact.

Self-Expression: I had an English teacher in ninth grade who really cared about language and its ability to bring people together. He was extremely passionate about how important it is to read and write, and he really inspired my love of both things. As my political views developed, I got really into writing about politics. I wrote about local politics for the school newspaper at Indiana University Bloomington, but I realized that that kind of journalism was too objective; I felt like I had to consistently conceal my opinions. So I am majoring in Journalism and Political Science with the intention of going to graduate school for communications. Ultimately, I want to do communications for a cause I believe in; probably something related to women’s studies. I want to be able to voice my opinions through blog posts and other forms of content creation.