If you were a student, staff, or faculty member on Chapman University’s campus over the last four years, you knew (or knew of) Kristin Kumagawa ’22. A School of Communication graduate with a double minor in disability studies and public relations and current HCOM graduate student, Kristin (and her service dog, Mailie) left quite an impression.  If you had the privilege of knowing Kristin, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that her favorite quote was, “Just because you can’t change everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to change anything.”

Orientation Leader photo: Kristin and Mailie

Orientation Leader photo: Kristin and Mailie

I am Japanese-American. I am disabled. I am queer. I am Chapman.

Kristin’s I AM CHAPMAN Campaign poster.

Kristin was an incredible student and an even better individual.  Kristin’s friends describe her as sweet and caring – someone who was a fervent champion of others and a friend who would always have your back. She brought sunshine into the classroom with her smile and positive attitude.

Through her fierce advocacy work for individuals with disabilities (Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative, American Association of People with Disabilities, Disability in Hollywood), her involvement on campus (Orientation Leader, Greek Life, Chapman Spoonies, PRSSA, I Am Chapman speaker and representative, On Broadway, Assistant to Dr. Blaser, work in the Cross-Cultural Center/Student Engagement, Lambda Pi Eta board member, and so much more), and her outstanding academic work in the School of Communication, Dodge, and Wilkinson, she will be always be remembered by our community.


  • Kristin was a proud organ donor. The School of Communication has partnered with OneLegacy to encourage organ donation in Kristin’s honor throughout the semester. Please click on this link to sign-up to be an organ donor in Kristin’s honor: https://register.donatelifecalifornia.org/donate4kristin

We hope to share your memories with Kristin’s family and the School of Communication community to honor and remember her. If you’d like to include your own memories of Kristin on this page, please complete the form here: Kristin. We will continue to add your thoughts and anecdotes.

Read more about Kristin and her involvement at Chapman:

Kristin, Griffin, Amanda representing HCOM at at SoC Experience Day

Kristin, Griffin, Amanda representing HCOM at at SoC Experience Day

Chapman has many great qualities, but the best part about attending is that we are a community. Our school is on the smaller side, which I personally love because I like being able to see familiar faces in my classes and get to know my teachers. There  so many opportunities to get involved on campus, and if you take advantage of them, you can discover new passions and even make some of your closest friends. For instance, I’m a Communication major, yet I spent many of my weekends working on sets for Dodge film projects and independent films acting, or doing production design. All campuses have some type of culture, but I am proud to be a part of Chapman’s because we support and relate to one another on a level that I don’t think could be found somewhere else.  -Kristin

AADP picture of Kristin and Mailie

AADP picture of Kristin and Mailie during her time as an intern.


If you’d like to include your own memories of Kristin on this page, please complete the form here: Kristin. We will continue to add your thoughts and anecdotes. Thank you.

Read about the impact Kristin had on the people of Chapman:

I was very honored to be one of Kristin’s professors. Kristin was smart, kind, dedicated, and had an amazing future ahead of her. I loved having her as a student and I always looked forward to giving pets to her service dog Mailie, who was one of my favorite Chapman pups. Even when she was managing her health, Kristin did everything she could to be a good student and classmate. I was very excited about her graduate capstone project, which she was working on this semester. Kristin was developing a media tool kit for narrative content creators – such as writers for television shows – to educate them about minorities with disabilities. I knew the substantial impact that her project could potentially have. And I knew Kristin was going to have an impact as well. We are all going to miss Kristin tremendously. I’m sending my love to her family and friends. The School of Communication will not be the same without her. -Dr. Jennifer Bevan

Chapman student, Kristin, and her service dog, Mailie

Kristin and Mailie

Kristin was my orientation leader, and she left such a positive impact on my orientation experience. Right off the bat, you could tell that she truly cared about us first-years and wanted the absolute best for us. I can vividly remember her presentation of “I am Chapman” and feeling so inspired afterwards. I frequently saw her around campus since then, whether it be by Doti or the Piazza, always with a smile on her face. I could not have asked for a better person to be my orientation leader because of how much her words and actions shaped my first couple days at Chapman, and how it would then affect the trajectory of the rest of my time here. I am so grateful and honored that I was able to meet her and was able to share this experience. –Francesca Stover ’25

Kristin and I first met through online zoom classes during the pandemic as I transferred to Chapman University in the Fall of 2020. Even through the computer screen, you can tell how vibrant and unforgettable she was. She always added to our amazing conversations in Dr. Bejerano’s class. Her kindness and openness made it easy for other students to be comfortable, causing us to feel safe when discussing topics we shy away from. When we returned to in-person classes, I ran into her in the halls and introduced myself to Kristin and Mailie. Kristin and Mailie were the dream team and always had a smile every time I saw them at events around campus. I got the opportunity to spend some time helping her transition into her Lambda Pi Eta Board position and worked alongside her for the past couple of months. She took me up on my offer to drop by when she needed advice or tips and tricks, making it more fun to see her walk into Doti Hall with Mailie. We even made Mailie her honorary Lambda Pi Eta name badge so they could wear it at events. Kristin was the definition of making a great first impression in any room she walked through. Even though she is gone, she has and will continue to impact people’s lives forever.-Carmen Chavez ’22

Kristin was such a bright light of positivity in my world, a true artist and beautify human being. I will always remember her by the art she made me, the flowers she brought me and all the joy she provided us all with.-Karla Monterrey

Kristin was my boss and friend in the Department of Student Engagement. I first met her this fall as we were both orientation leaders, and we grew closer at work throughout the last semester. She was so incredibly inspirational. Despite her health issues, she worked so hard and consistently came to work with a good attitude and a huge smile on her face. She was an incredible activist, and inspired me to make a difference in the communities that I care about. Her dog, Mailie, was my sweet little office dog buddy and I looked forward to every shift with the two of them. Kristin had a lasting impact on this university and the people around her, and I can only dream to be at least half of the incredible human that she was. I will miss her everyday, but I take comfort in knowing that she changed the lives of so many people during her time on this Earth. I miss you, Kristin, and I hope you are at peace. –Mackenzie Ferrell

I met her during my freshman orientation. She let me pet her dog and made me feel so relaxed during a stressful time. She was a ray of sunshine, and I will miss her deeply. -Sofia Incaudo

Kristin representing Chapman Spoonies

Kristin representing Chapman Spoonies

Kristin was a beautiful person inside and out. I first met Kristin in the club, Chapman Spoonies (a club for students with disabilities). I was so nervous going to my first meeting because I had never attended anything like this before but Kristin immediately made me feel welcomed and loved. Whenever I was on campus, she would make an effort to ask me how I was and greet me with a warm smile. It always lifted my spirits to see her and her service dog, Mailie, on campus and always supporting people in every way she could. Through her leadership, I learned how to be an advocate and stand up for the things I believe in. I am so thankful to have known Kristin and I will miss seeing her on campus and in the Spoonies. -Curran McIntyre

Kristin and Mailie in the snow

Kristin and Mailie in the snow

Kristin was an amazing student leader I got to work with at the Cross-Cultural Center and Student Engagement office. She was the sweetest person and she is always smiling when I see her and Mailie. When we worked together during the pandemic via Zoom, Kristin remained a positive attitude and influence through the Zoom screen even though things were challenging at times. She was a super talented graphic designer who could create designs that are cute and accurate to our vision (even though we were not the best at describing our vision in words). Kristin was also a passionate advocate for the communities she was part of. During the #AntiAsianHate movement in 2021, Kristin offered to design additional stickers with playful but important messages from her RIVERBEAR CO. Etsy shop for the Cross-Cultural Center to distribute and to fundraise for AAPI community organizations. I am going to miss Kristin very much and will always remember her. -Shishei Tsang

River and Kristin_1

Kristin was the guiding light in my life, my biggest role model from the time I met her. I am so lucky I had the pleasure ofknowing and loving this girl in the time that she lived. she was truly meant to be my Tri Delta big, and she was the most loyal, compassionate, driven, and empathetic person I’ve ever met. she embodied everything it means to be a loyal and compassionate person, and so much more. she was always giving to people and was loved dearly by those close to her. she was very involved on and off campus and made an impact in so many peoples’ lives with her kind heart. she really was a gem in such a tough world, and she will never be forgotten. I will make sure her memory and her dreams live on❤️-River Gayton

Friends showing a medal and trophyWhen my daughter had leg surgery Kristin was one of very few friends who visited her multiple times and stood next to her.-Nada Shaath


During my exchange program at Chapman, I did not get to know Kristin personally, but I‘ve heard speeches that she‘s given and saw her quite a lot walking through campus with her beautiful dog. Her speeches were impressive and she seemed like a very inspirational young woman.-Maja MutzenbachMailie and Kristin celebrating

Kristin and Mailie snuggling in car Kristin was one of a kind and we will miss her immensely. Such a beautiful soul that left an impression on everyone she met. She was an irreplaceable friend to my daughter. We enjoyed her visits to Wyoming the last couple years. Kristin and Mailie loved the snow. I’m so glad we knew her for the short time she was in our lives. RIP beautiful girl, -Christina Gayton