Concordia Shanghai Apr 11 2024

A Journey from School Magazines to Magical Tales at Disney

A decade ago, Iris Chen served as an editor and writer for Concordia’s high school literary magazine, “Zeitgeist.” Today, she is the managing editor at Disney Publishing, where she contributes to stories that sprinkle magic into the lives of readers.

Concordia-Shanghai-Alumni-Story-Iris-Chen-3 copy
Iris Chen

Managing Editor at Disney Publishing Worldwide
Columbia University, Columbia Publishing Course 2019 
Pepperdine University, Class of 2019 
Concordia Shanghai, Class of 2016

One might imagine that her journey to this dream career was ignited by a touch of Disney magic. However, it was her passion and determination that paved the way from the start.   

From a young age, Iris knew her path lay in the world of storytelling, and her time at Concordia reinforced her belief that the joy of reading and writing is magnified when shared with others. 

Growth and New Perspectives 

Throughout her educational journey, Iris evolved from a voracious reader and writer into an accomplished editor. At Concordia, she found the perfect environment to expand her skills and forge her own path. 

In Mr. Bryan Klingberg’s 7th grade Humanities class, she was introduced to the idea that questions are more valuable than answers, a concept that ignited her intellectual curiosity. While at school, the PC Library became a sanctuary for her literary passions. Thanks to Ms. Christina Mayers, the head librarian at the time, Iris had access to an extensive collection of books. Ms. Mayers encouraged her to broaden her literacy by exploring a diverse array of reading materials. 


In high school, Iris dove into subjects such as Creative Writing, Science Fiction, and Morality & Ethics, which nurtured her critical thinking and creativity. Although books are her first love, Iris also discovered fulfillment in music and sports. Throughout her eight years at Concordia, she was an enthusiastic athlete and choir member, further rounding out her interests and talents. 

“I’m grateful that Concordia emphasized a liberal arts education. It made me a well-rounded individual ready to tackle college-level courses in all subjects. The discipline I developed allows me to focus on long-term projects and push through hardships in my career.”  


Turning the Page

Determination was the hallmark of Iris’s journey, which saw her graduate from college in just three years and subsequently land roles at Simon & Schuster and Disney. She embraced every chance to dive deep into the publishing world, including internships abroad and participation in the Columbia Publishing Course.     


Through the whirlwind of recent years, Iris mastered the art of approaching challenges with an open mind, strategically channeling her energy, and allowing her strengths to lead the way. 

As she continues to weave her magic in the world of publishing, Iris believes in the enduring power of human storytelling. Her advice to aspiring writers echoes with wisdom:   

“Grow the story you want to tell from something only you can say before worrying about publication. Be an independent thinker, a keen observer, a persistent dreamer. And of course, never stop reading.”   


If you are interested in sharing alumni updates or stories, please contact our Alumni Relations Coordinator Ms. Irrey Zhang at