What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
Above anything, I am a teacher. As an adjunct faculty at Columbia and NYU's School of Social Work, I teach graduate courses such as International Welfare and Social Welfare Policy. All my classes address the urgent need of some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in the US and around the globe and explore effective policy practices. I am very proud of my work in preparing future leaders for the social service and other public sector and would like to continue to contribute to students' leadership and professional development. I also serve on the Board of Directors of Transdiaspora Network, an organization focusing on youth development and HIV prevention, as well as on the International Advisory for the Korea Association of Social Workers, a nation wide organization representing social workers in Korea. I do what I do now since I have been always passionate about issues related to child health, working women / mothers, and vulnerable families on a global perspective.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
I am also currently writing my dissertation on family / labor policy in OECD countries at Columbia's phd Program, which is expected to be done by this summer. So time management is the biggest challenge but it is also the most exciting part of my work. I am very blessed to work with the most amazing mentors and colleagues who use their research expertise to better serve families and communities in need.
What is your proudest achievement?
The fact that I am taking advantage of all the responsibilities and opportunities that are given to me right now. I am also proud of myself coming out stronger and healthier after multiple major surgeries a couple of years ago. It was surely a difficult time for me and my family but I am nothing but thankful for that time of challenge and recovery.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
As a woman, I admire Michelle Obama's strength, Hilary Clinton's passion, and Laura Bush's gentleness, and I see such characters in my mother. As a first generation immigrant from Korea, she is my role model as a highly influential entrepreneur who educates, empowers, and connects people from all backgrounds.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself in various capacities. One thing for sure, I will continue to teach and work with college / graduate students. I will also serve some of the international organizations, government agencies, universities, or NGOs. We will see.
What is one thing you’ve learned from the CUP Fellows Program that you would pass along to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
I would like to share that there is always a room for improvement, so never give up and never stop. CUP has provided me with the network of brilliant and highly motivated young professionals who are committed in public service, and meeting these people itself was an eye-opening experience for me. The fellows helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, prepare myself to be a better leader, and continue to serve my communities. I owe them eternally.