Jin Han Kim: 'Developing personal values is as important as pursuing academic studies'

May 24, 2016

Jin Han Kim

Economics, Psychology, China & Asia-Pacific Studies

Great Neck, NY

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

I participated in the Cornell in Washington semester in my junior year, which shaped my personal values and reinforced my career aspirations. As a student trained in economics and having a passion for public service, I could not have found a better internship than the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. The experience of working in an executive agency was both humbling and inspiring. For an undergraduate student working with the nation’s top leaders in their respective fields, the fast-paced environment required new learning every second. But it was truly inspiring to first-handedly witness how the professionals at the White House were all connected by their promise to serve the American people – to work for the greater good. For me, their work signified that the pursuit of public service and that of career development need not be mutually exclusive. Their work motivated me to continue to cherish my commitment to public service while aspiring to become a competent professional. Washington, D.C., was an optimal location where I could combine my skill set, cultivated through my studies at Cornell, and my ideal for serving the public.

What is your main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?

As a Cornell Tradition Fellow, I have been deeply committed to providing service through volunteer activities. From serving as a cross-cultural adoptee mentor to teaching at an elementary school afterschool program to volunteering at a mobile food pantry, I tried to find meaningful ways to offer assistance to the communities around me. During the last winter break, I participated in cross-cultural service trips – in Vietnam and Nicaragua – that expanded my understanding of the meaning of service and encouraged me to grow as a global citizen. I believe that developing personal values is as important as pursuing academic studies and professional career goals, and engaging in public service activities allowed me to interact with and learn from other volunteers whose selfless and charitable acts inspired me.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Explore! Cornell has so much to offer and trying new things will allow you to find your interests and passions as well as things that you don’t like. The latter is as important as the former. So explore!

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