Kal Penn ’00

2013 Recent Graduate Achievement Award

A native of New Jersey, Kal Penn (Kalpen Modi) attended the Freehold Regional Public High School District’s International Studies and Fine and Performing Arts High Schools before studying theater, film, television and sociology at UCLA.

As an actor, Kal’s notable credits include Mira Nair’s film "The Namesake," based on the novel by Pulitzer-winner "Jhumpa Lahiri," as well as the role of Kumar Patel in the popular "Harold & Kumar" franchise, for which he was nominated for an MTV Movie Award in 2005. In television, Penn is also known for his role as young Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the critically acclaimed television series "House," and more recently as Kevin in the CBS comedy, "How I Met Your Mother." Penn recently returned to acting from a two-year sabbatical during which he served as an associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. During his time there, he served a variety of roles, including that of President Obama’s Liaison to Young Americans. He was also the point person on outreach to the arts community and to Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders. Prior to his White House stint, Penn was as an adjunct professor of cinema, sociology and Asian American studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Penn is currently producing and hosting a science and engineering show for the Discovery Channel based on the principles of investment in American innovation. He recently served as a national co-chair of President Obama’s 2012 campaign, and in addition to recent acting projects, is finishing a graduate certificate in international security at Stanford University.

Copyright © 2014 UCLA Alumni