This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.
Getting to know someone is a lot easier when you accidentally get her mail and emails, her W-9s, and her graded essays for four years. Such is the story of mistaken identity that the two graduating Catherine Zhangs have experienced in their time as undergrads. They have been confused with each other by department interns, preceptors, and even two deans. Their story results from the quirky coincidence of having the same name — both Cat, for short — but the women leave campus with a friendship of deep respect and admiration, each having made an important impact on the College community.
“Cat is probably the prime example of showing how one person can make a ripple effect on campus,” said Zhang, the former Undergraduate Council president who hails from Wexford, Pa., outside Pittsburgh. “It’s beautiful to see how impactful and far reaching her advocacy for equity and voice for justice has been and will continue to be.”
The Cat Zhang from Plano, Texas, a journalist and comedy writer, who served as editor-in-chief of Harvard’s satirical news publication Satire V, was equally complimentary about her namesake’s tireless effort to make tangible changes to campus life.
“From the moment she stepped on campus, we all knew she’d be our Undergraduate Council president. Cat has near universal appeal, but with real substance,” Texas Zhang said. “What she says, people take in good faith.”
Before the Zhangs ever met in person, they were virtual doppelgangers. Both members of their respective high schools’ speech and debate teams, they discovered their shared name on Facebook during their junior year when commenting on a mutual friend’s profile picture.