“Dominican was the only school to reach out to us and call us all the way in Singapore to let us know that we were accepted,” Kern recalls. “We were blown away.”
Their decision was finalized when trusted family friend Barbara Leong ’53 convinced the twins that Dominican was the perfect choice.
“Our mother is from Hawaii and we were considering the University of Hawaii,” Shaun says. “But one of her close friends in Hawaii, who had attended Dominican in the 1950s, called us when she heard we had been accepted and said ‘you must go to Dominican.’”
It wasn’t long after arriving on campus that the brothers realized Dominican’s personal touch extended beyond the admissions process.
“We immediately appreciated the class size at Dominican,” says Shaun. There were typically fewer than 20 students in each of our classes, so this meant we had direct interaction with the professors.”
Dominican’s intimate and supportive environment also helped the brothers define their goals and recognize their strengths. Both Shaun and Kern appreciated that their faculty-mentors guided them toward success.
“As we quickly realized, at Dominican the faculty take time to get to know each student and really wants to see each student succeed both in and out of the classroom,” Kern says. “The blessing about that is if you have the capacity to accomplish great things, the faculty will guide you as opposed to pushing you.”
Both Kern and Shaun note that this close relationship with faculty helped them discover their sense of purpose.
“Dominican was a platform for us to see our calling, go for it and achieve it,” Kern says.
Kern initially planned to major in mass media and communications but switched majors to business his sophomore year. Melba Beals, who at the time was Chair of the Department of Communications, encouraged him to minor in communications.
“Melba designed a program for me and made it possible for me to run my own radio show,” Kern recalls. The show, focusing on issues facing Asian youth, went live via the Internet (radiodominican.edu) every weekday morning at 6 a.m. Pacific Time in order to reach listeners in Asia.
“My show targeted kids in Asia. Shaun and I volunteer for a youth organization in Singapore, so I gained many ideas for my show from my work with the youth,” Kern says. “The fact that I could work on this show at Dominican and be heard by an audience around the world was great.”
As a freshman, Shaun initially envisioned a career in computer graphics. He too decided to pursue a business degree his sophomore year after a working as a summer intern with a consulting company in Singapore, where he developed a cost-saving marketing strategy that earned him praise and helped him realize his skills.
“I helped that company save about $10,000 worth of marketing costs that summer,” Shaun says. “That experience was rewarding and helped open my eyes to a career in business.”
Back on campus, the twins immersed themselves in their business studies – guided by a number of mentors in the business school, including Chris Leeds, professor of business, and Liz Capener, assistant professor of business.
“Liz was one of the first people in the business school who saw our potential,” Shaun says. “Liz saw our natural talents and she encouraged us to work to our full potential.”
Kern credits Leeds for inspiring him to excel as a student. Today both brothers draw on lessons learned in Leeds’ courses in their own business.
“We started our own business together and we use lessons learned from Chris in our working lives every day,” Kern says. “We created our company based on what Chris taught us.”
After graduating with honors with bachelor’s degrees in International Management in 2006, Kern and Shaun returned to Singapore. Kern became a director at the Centre of Business Communications and a lecturer at the School D’Hospitality in Singapore. He also earned a master’s degree from Griffith University in Australia.
Shaun moved into a career as an author and motivational speaker, focused on supporting young entrepreneurs
Three years ago the brothers formed Kurioslee, a corporate service and consulting firm specializing in human resources; training and development; risk management; accounting; and entrepreneurship incubation.
The company’s focus is helping businesses reduce operation costs in non-revenue generating activities. The goal is to enable companies to be more efficient and focus their time and resources on their core business activities.
The company not only assists companies in business growth, but also focuses on helping those starting out in the business world find their dream job.
“We are particularly passionate in inspiring youths to find their purpose, destiny and goals in life,” Kern says.
“Often people go through academic challenges in childhood and high school, but when the right people come along, those people can spot certain things in you and you can decide to shine,” he adds. “We were given this platform at Dominican, and now we want to give people the platform to shine.”
The Dominican ideals of study, reflection, community, and service remain a constant inspiration.
“Overall, we loved our experience in Dominican. It was a stepping stone that propelled us into our destiny,” Kern says.
“Too often, people know their gifts and talents but lack the qualifications, motivation, and guidance. Dominican provided us with all three things.”