“Korean-American, combat veteran, wife, foodie, and mother of two.”
Hometown: Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea
Fun Fact About Yourself: Although I am scared of heights, I am a certified Army paratrooper and have jumped out of several perfectly good airplanes during my military career.
Undergraduate School and Major:
United States Military Academy, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Systems Engineering
Naval Postgraduate School, concentrating in Security Studies, Far East Asia
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army, Associate Dean of the Korean Language School- Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Learning to be a leader is no easy task. Being a young, female leader in combat surrounded by much older males can be even more intimidating. At only 23 years old, I was responsible for 11 soldiers and over $2 million in equipment. We were tasked with collecting signals intelligence across 17,000 square miles of Afghanistan. One of my biggest accomplishments was overcoming my own insecurities to confidently lead my team collecting valuable intelligence across some of the most dangerous territory in the world.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Genuine. As one of Owen’s Forte Fellows, I had the privilege of meeting some wonderful and very accomplished ladies at a recent conference with other fellows from other business schools. As I noticed the interactions of the ladies around me, I can honestly say that the ladies from Owen are so warm and welcoming. Between my interview day and meeting my classmates so far, I really feel like I’m part of the Owen family.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Owen prides itself on offering small class sizes so people can really get to know each other, have real relationships, and actively build a strong community. After experiencing small class sizes at West Point, I knew that class size was going to be a key component in selecting a program. Sitting in a class at Owen during my interview visit, I was reminded of my time as a cadet in the classroom. Students were genuinely being themselves: relaxed, engaged, and comfortable in sharing their opinions during class. I wanted to find a smaller program and get to know my classmates and professors on a deeper level and Owen offers exactly that.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Along with the Armed Forces Club, I am excited to join the Healthcare Club. Nashville is home to a diverse range of healthcare companies, and I’m looking forward to building relationships in and learning more about this exciting industry.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After over a decade on active duty, I wanted to jumpstart the next chapter in my professional life. I knew that if I wanted to have the same level of responsibility and influence that I had in the military, I needed to get an MBA. Although I learned a lot about leadership and developing teams from my military service, I was missing the foundation in business that I would need to be successful in the private sector.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? After speaking with several friends who had transitioned out of the military, I noticed a common theme. Of my friends who had left the military and went straight into the workforce, a large majority of them went back to school within 2-3 years to get an MBA to advance and be in positions of greater responsibility and influence. I realized that if I wanted to make an impact on a larger scale, I needed to have an MBA.
What other MBA programs did you apply to?
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I’m at a very different spot in my life than most MBA candidates, and finding a positive and supportive culture was most important to me. The only way to really evaluate a culture is to go visit and spend time talking with current students and alumni. During my visit at Owen, the director of admissions went out of her way to introduce me to other student veterans and really made me feel at home. When I returned home from my visit, I knew that Owen was the right fit for me.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? The military taught me to expect the unexpected, but nothing could have prepared me for the night we received my husband’s cancer diagnosis. At 31 years old, my husband was fighting Stage III cancer and would go through four rounds of chemotherapy and two major surgeries to remove tumors that had spread throughout his body. I had no choice but to be strong, not only for my husband but also for our 1-year old daughter as we sought to make life as normal as possible for her throughout my husband’s treatments. Paired with my duties as an Army officer, this was by far the most challenging time in my life. Looking back on this experience, it’s easy to lose perspective on what is most important when you are busy in the day-to-day hustle of life. Today I can say, without a doubt, that I am a stronger and more conscientious person because of this moment and I learned never to take anything for granted.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? After a family trip to Disney World to celebrate this huge milestone, I look forward to joining a local firm dedicated to creating positive change and making a difference in healthcare.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Growing up as part of a military family and through my own career in the Army, I have learned the importance of contributing to a cause greater than myself. Healthcare is facing many challenges from an aging population to social pressure to cost control. In five years, I see myself contributing my unique perspective as a minority, female veteran to solve problems facing an industry that touches every American.