Karl Konzi helps define ‘swag’ on campus

Some students wake up and put on whatever is quickest or near the cleaner pile of clothes. Others wake up an hour early, find the perfect shirt, pants, shoes, jewelry, hairstyle or hat and go to class. These better-dressed students have what their peers call “swag.”

Sophomore Karl Konzi may be quiet, but his effortless swag speaks a thousand words.

“Usually if someone asks me where I’m from and I say I’m from the Democratic Republic of Congo, they say ‘Oh, that’s why you dress so nice,’” Konzi said.

Style is an important part of the Congo culture, but Konzi’s parents have been his biggest fashion influence.

“My mom and dad always dress nice,” Konzi said. “It makes you feel good to look good. That’s why we look our best all the time.”

Along with style, Congo culture values music and dancing.

“I listen to music everyday,” Konzi said. “If you see me, I will usually have headphones in, singing.”

His relaxing demeanor is the main reason he is respected by many of his peers.

“Karl is just cool and chill,” close friend Kelvin Bramble said. “He’s not really full of surprises. What you see is what you get from him.”

Although Konzi is aware of American culture, he isn’t influenced by much of it.

“He knows about our culture but he really doesn’t practice American norms,” junior Ladai Boost said. “That’s what makes him different. He’s cool and he understands hard work.”

Konzi hopes that hard work will lead him to graduation with a business degree.

“I study business and administration but my focus is management,” Konzi said.

His mom is a business woman while his father works as a CEO for an export and import company back home.

“I guess work ethic runs through my blood,” Konzi said.

His hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

According to junior Jacob Thomas, Konzi spends much of his time studying.

“Every time I see him, he’s in there (Gessner study room) studying,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen one person study so much.”

Students may notice Konzi because of his swag, but sometimes it is difficult for him to open up to people.

“Talking to people is the hardest part at times,” Konzi said. “I don’t know why but it seems like people back home are a little mean but they are still nicer than people here.”

Although he is still adjusting to Kansas, Konzi believes he adapts to places very well, especially when there is diversity.

“It’s diverse here a little,” Konzi said. “There are many people here that come from the same areas that I’m from so I have people to connect with and I feel more comfortable. I adapt well to all types of people because my home is so big and full of different people.”

You can see Konzi each day when he walks into the cafeteria with one white earbud in his ear and the other dangling beside him. He may wave or give a head nod, but you probably won’t hear him. His swag does all the talking.