Storytelling: Sam Paik ’90 and Ellen Paik ’16

Originally published on Jan. 9, 2013. Re-published to celebrate the 100th issue of the alumni newsletter.

[Sam Paik ’90 and Ellen Paik ’16]Here’s a clip from Sam Paik ’90 and daughter Ellen Paik ’16

Sam Paik graduated in 1990, majoring in history. That year, the Wesleyan men’s soccer team had a winning record of 12 wins, four losses and one tie. Ellen Paik is a member of the class of 2016. She’s currently rowing crew, and thinking about majoring in film or music.


Mia Lobel: Welcome to the Wesleyan Storytelling project. I’m Mia Lobel, class of 1997. This week’s story is from Sam Paik, class of 1990, and his daughter Ellen, a current student, class of 2016. Stay tuned after for details on how you can share your own story, or recommend someone to tell theirs.

Sam Paik: My name is Sam Paik, and I graduated in 1990. Seems forever ago. And I majored in History–Asian History.

Ellen Paik: I’m Ellen Paik. I am a freshman at Wesleyan– class of 2016. That seems forever away. I live in Bennett Hall, and it’s a great time.

SP: Wesleyan was a big transition from sort of right-wing, conservative, to being in a very liberal school. It sort of brought me somewhere a little bit more balanced, and therefore, if you can imagine the process that I had to take in order to get there. So, I had these group of friends. They were really good friends and we would argue every day for hours about feminism, about religion, about politics. And I think we would just take, they would take the opposite side just to spite me, and then I would do the exact same thing. But the thing is, y’know, we respected each other, and we learned from each other’s arguments. And I think the time that I spent doing that sort of helped me also with questioning things also to be open minded about things, and I think that trained me pretty well. I think that would be the main thing that I learnt and took away from Wesleyan.

EP: I was recently elected to the WSA. It’s quite amazing to sit in a room full of such incredible students and just listen to them, and kind of pitch in your own ideas to help the school. And it’s been absolutely inspirational for me to be able to sit in a room with such incredible students. They’re so forward thinking and they’re so giving as well, of their own time, of their own energy. Listening to those students I guess inspires me to talk, and really do what’s best for the school. There are a lot of interesting debates going on right now, need-blind being one of them. It’s a very sensitive topic, and kind of listening to different conversations around the school has really inspired me to kind of see what I can do for the school.

SP: You’ve always been involved in, y’know, student leadership, and I like the fact that you’re always trying to change things for the positive. And also you have a lot of energy and passion for change, and positive change, and helping to form group opinion without imposing your views. I think that's admirable, something that I’d never done, but I don’t know where that came from. (Both laugh). I’m glad it’s coming from somewhere.

EP: Yeah. I don’t know. I guess growing up you’ve talked a lot about the importance of leadership, and I think having that drilled into my head definitely makes me want to do something. I don’t want to just be another student that kind of, y’know, passes by the school. Just kind of goes here and then leaves. I want to be someone that actually did something and made a mark here. And for you, whenever I go to the Freeman Athletic Center, I always see your photo up on the wall, for y’know, your soccer team photo. And it’s like, what am I gonna do that’s gonna last here? Is it gonna be a photo up on the wall? Is it gonna be… I don’t know, who knows.

SP: I’m sure there’ll be plenty of photos up on the wall.

EP: (Laughs) We’ll see about that!

Mia: Sam Paik graduated in 1990, majoring in history. Ellen Paik is in the class of 2016. She’s thinking about majoring in film or music. The Wesleyan Storytelling Project is an opportunity for alumni to share their memories of Wesleyan with each other and the wider community. To record your own story, or suggest someone that we should invite into the booth, visit

Music: “Sleep Inside” by The Last Minutes—Ryan Rodger ’11, Ben Block ’11, Katherine McDonald ’11 and Bella Loggins ’10. Also, “Your Song” by Bella Loggins.

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