Michelle Kahn ’12 Makes Her Own Kind of Music

You never can quite tell how rich in extracurricular activities the life might be of a student that sits right next to you in class.

Consider Michelle Kahn ’12, a dual major in history and government at CMC. She not only worked recently as an intern for California Sen. Diane Feinstein, but also edited and designed a music textbook authored by her pianist father who when not “gigging” around town has a day job as a professor of music at Los Angeles Valley College.

“The only instrument I play is the computer,” Kahn says (she gave up taking “enforced” piano lessons at age 12). “If you design and write correctly, you can get a lot of harmony out of keyboard taps and mouse clicks.”

Kahn says the textbook came about as a result of her dad having “a bit of a midlife crisis.

“He was spending time figuring out ways to further develop his career,” Kahn says, “so, he decided to publish the Fundamentals of Music textbook he had always wanted to write.”

According to Kahn, her years of experience working on student-run publications (she was editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and is currently publisher of the Claremont Port Side) helped build passion for, and a skill set in, all types of writing and design.

As the body text of each chapter of the book was completed, Michelle laid out her father’s text on Adobe InDesign, making sure that the content was error-free, visually appealing and reader-friendly. By summer’s end, the father-daughter duo had produced a 241-page textbook with a full-color cover and had ordered 100-plus copies at Kinko’s.

Feedback from both students and faculty at Valley College has been positive, Kahn says. “Working on these projects with dad was an amazing experience on both a professional and personal level. It taught me how to apply my graphic design and editorial hobbies to real-life professional situations.”

Although she did not share her father’s drive to pursue music as a career, Kahn posits that her own path into more journalistic pursuits has cemented the filial bond she shares with her father.

“I think that is why my dad and I work so well together,” she says. “We have such similar personalities, senses of humor and values, but such different interests and skill sets.

For Sen. Feinstein, Kahn worked as an intern in the Senator’s Los Angeles office, one of four district offices in the state. There she says she learned that although thousands of miles away from the glamour of Washington D.C.’s Beltway, it’s politics as usual everywhere.

“I feared that phones and constituent letters would preclude me from directly experiencing politics; was I ever wrong,” Kahn says. “My fellow interns and I played an integral part representing the Senator at local meetings, writing memos that analyzed and judged current legislative proposals, and meeting directly with constituents.”

The last week of Kahn’s internship proved the most rewarding for her as she and her fellow interns were charged with listening and responding to constituents’ individual health care horror stories and then conveying those messages to the Senator. “As old men in wheelchairs and new mothers teared-up, I remembered why politics has always interested me,” Kahn says. “Despite the glory of media-savvy strategizing, I want to help people on a personal level.”

Throughout Kahn’s academic and extracurricular life, CMC has played a major and continuing role.

“CMC has always intrigued me, but my on-campus interview sealed my decision,” Kahn says. “Admission counselor Evan Rutter and I discussed the impending death of dead tree newspapers, joked about the newly dyed magenta streak in my hair, and sang Beverly Hills by Weezer. Afterwards, we walked over to McKenna auditorium, where Anderson Cooperthe journalist I most admire was speaking.”