Seoul, South Korea
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Prior to the 2016 presidential election, I had zero knowledge of or interest in politics. However, as I followed the elections for the first time and observed my peers express their opinions, I opened my eyes to the importance of being politically aware. During the months leading up to the election, I spent a lot of time trying to gauge my own political opinions and where on the spectrum I stand, and went on to take classes and attend lectures that discussed relevant topics, such as Constitutional Politics: The U.S. Supreme Court, Public Finance: The Microeconomics of Government, and Prejudice and Stereotyping. These courses equipped me with the language through which to express my views on political issues.
What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
I am the most proud of my psychology honors thesis, which examines how the perception of minority advancement affects White Americans’ perception of and behavior toward Black people. Prior to beginning this project under the supervision of Assistant Professor Amy Krosch, I had worked as a research assistant in Professor Stephen Ceci’s Child Witness and Cognition Lab, contributing to projects examining intergroup relations in children and linguistic analyses of juror deliberations. Three semesters spent as a research assistant were undoubtedly exciting and meaningful, but I found myself wanting to gain experience in all parts of research — not just running experiments and coding data, but also helping shape the research question and interpreting results. Over the past eight months as an honors thesis student, I was able to gain just that experience. With immense help and support from Dr. Krosch and my lab manager Rachel Lisner, I was able to hone in on a topic of interest, design the experiments and stimuli, run participants, analyze data, and will soon be writing up a formal report of findings. Being able to start and finish a research project on a question that I am incredibly passionate about provided me the opportunity to build on what has already been studied in the field and make a tangible impact on issues that matter.
How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
For the majority of my life, I grew up in Korea, an ethnically homogeneous country. Even when I spent a few years in Vancouver, Canada, as a kid, I lived in a small, predominantly-White town. Hence, when I first came to live in America as a college freshman, I was shocked by the diversity. It is true that being Korean had always been a big part of my identity but because for five years prior to coming to college, I was surrounded by other Koreans, being Korean was not something that had to be perpetually looming in my mind wherever I went. The abrupt shift from being a racial majority to minority led me to become interested in race relations, perception and inequalities, particularly from a psychological standpoint. Over the course of my Cornell career, I explored this topic through classes and by investigating intergroup dynamics in children as a research assistant. Ultimately, I found the inquiry to be so intriguing that I decided to shape my honors thesis project around it. In this day and age where racial conflicts are unfortunately common, and as an international student looking to work and live in America after Cornell, these issues appear all the more pertinent and meaningful.