When one sees Linda Kengne ’14 sitting in the crowded dining hall, it is immediately evident that she has a lot of confidence. She is chatting with a group of seniors and post-graduates, seemingly unaware that there is a four- or five-year age difference between her and most of her peers. But besides her obvious poise and maturity, who is Linda Kengne?
Kengne was born in Cameroon and raised in France where she spent most of her childhood. She moved to New York City three years ago. Kengne said the hardest thing about moving to America was learning English.
“I didn’t even know how to say, ‘My name is Linda.’ I have been here three years and I still haven’t completely learned English,” added Kengne.
Kengne has five siblings, including a sixteen-year-old brother who attends Cornell as a junior. She has many fond memories of growing up with her siblings in France. She detailed one hilarious anecdote, in which a monkey chased her and her siblings around the house.
“My dad introduced us to a lot of exotic animals growing up, so I am used to them,” she explained.
This winter, Kengne is a member of the cast of the winter play, Voices in Conflict. Kengne said, “My interest in acting started when I was performing one of my poems called ‘I Dream of Becoming’ in Scholastic Poetry on Broadway.”
Her love of writing and reading is evident. She has many favorite books and admitted, “I enormously enjoyed reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin because it exposes women’s sexuality. It also shows how the perception of women has changed over time.” Her favorite book in French is Don Juan by Moliere.
Kengne has big plans for the future. She has always wanted to be a lawyer and “make a difference.” One of her idols is Nelson Mandela, and she hopes to visit South Africa one day.
Kengne also admires the French singer Yelle. She said of the artist, “Her lyrics can be kind of gross, but the songs are extremely funny and entertaining. I like her because she keeps it real and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.” Kengne strives to not let herself be defined by others’ perceptions and live freely.
At first, some might assume that Linda would be quiet and reserved, especially because she is a freshman, but, in truth, she is vivacious, determined, talented, and confident. Gabriela Espinosa ’12, her cast-mate, said, “It is hard for me to express the effervescent joy Linda’s free spirit, grounded moral principles, zest for life, and passion have blessed me with this winter. She shines.”