When I transferred to CSULB in 2004, I didn’t foresee that the hallmarks of my experience here would be the opportunities and the diversity. Being the first in my family to attend college, and living alone in California while my parents and siblings stayed in Korea, made for a challenging experience, but when I transferred to CSULB I realized that I wasn’t unique. CSULB has a delightfully diverse university community and it was inspiring to see so many different people work so hard to accomplish their goals.
I met Dr. Teri Yamada during my first semester when I was enrolled in her ethnic literature course. The message of many of the writers and the subject matter we studied resonated with me. Not only was the course engaging, but so were the students I met. One fellow described to me the first time he and his friend ate a banana. They had just swum across a river into Germany seeking refuge from their homeland’s communist government. Never having had a banana before and not knowing better, they ate the banana, peel and all. I was so enthralled with my experience that I enrolled in another of Dr. Yamada’s courses and more literature classes thereafter.
Dr. Yamada proved invaluable when I began to contemplate the possibility of graduate school. I sought her counsel and she told me to study hard for the Graduate Record Exam, recommended graduate programs and told me to not be intimidated. This was invaluable advice because at this point I was very intimidated, and the worse thing I could have done would have been to deny any opportunity that presented itself.
In spring 2006, I was accepted into UC Santa Barbara’s global and international studies graduate program. I was also hired as assistant news editor for the Daily 49er and began an internship at the OC Weekly. To learn in such diverse settings, whether it be the classroom, the newsroom or just my mentor’s office, has been the greatest opportunity and one for which I am most grateful.