Michelle Kim, a senior education major from South Korea, is using her personal experiences in the classroom to become the inspiring educator she aspires to become, accepting and valuing students for who they are.
Chuncheon, South Korea
Collins Hill High School, Suwanee, Ga.
B.S.Ed. in early childhood education
University highlights, achievements and awards:
Before I transferred to UGA, I was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, which is an honor society. Ever since I started college, I have been on the dean’s list. Also, I am a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Sigma Alpha Lambda.
As a student teacher at a local elementary school, I realized that teachers put a lot of effort to engage students and make a difference in their lives. This brought back memories of my sixth-grade teacher. Because I was the only ELL (English language learner) student in her class, I could see her passion for teaching because she constantly strived to provide an equal opportunity for me to be engaged in the learning environment. Instead of forcefully trying to assimilate me into the culture, she valued the Korean traditions that I brought to the classroom and taught me on a daily basis to not forget my heritage. I could see that she cherished me as an individual.
I didn’t fully realize the impact that she had on my life back then, but the student teaching experience made me more aware of her influence. As an educator, it is very difficult to be committed because no two students are alike. Therefore, I want to become an inspiring educator as a teacher who can accept students for who they are and value them.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first of my family to attend UGA.
I chose to attend UGA because...
… I heard many great things about this school. There were so many opportunities and resources available. I was drawn into the reputation that UGA carried on its shoulders and I believe that UGA provides one of the best education programs in the nation. As a result, it was my dream to become an educator through the early childhood education program at the University of Georgia.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
… going to concerts at Hodgson Hall. I try to attend at least two to three concerts every semester. This is the time when I can really relax and not think about anything else.
When I have free time, I like...
… spending time with my family. When I decided to move to the United States, it was just my sister and me. My father stayed in Korea and visited us during summer vacation. Last year, he finally decided to move to the United States. Since then, I appreciate the time spent with my family even more.
My favorite place to study is...
… my room or at the library in Aderhold. When I need to study for a test or need to read, I like to stay in my room where it’s quiet because I get distracted easily. When I am working on a project or have a group study meeting, I love going to the library in Aderhold. It has all of the resources that I need and helps me to become productive.
My favorite professor is...
… Bettina Love and Jaye Thiel. I was grateful to take their classes. They knew how to engage all of the students and helped us to prepare ourselves to become future educators. I loved hearing their real life stories from their teaching experiences and all the recommendations for books that they provided. Their instructions enlightened me and made me realize that teaching really was the path that I had been looking for.
Lastly, I love Stephanie Short. She provides me moral support. I love sharing my life stories with her and hearing her stories as well. She is a good listener and she always provides good advice for me. Also, she is willing to help me in the best way she can. She makes me feel important. Whenever I struggle or have difficulties, she always makes me think about what is important to me and leads me to the right path.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
… I would love to share it with both of my grandfathers. Ever since I left Korea, I didn’t get to see them before they passed away. I loved spending time with my grandfathers when I was little. I was too young when they passed away and I didn’t really know what “goodbye” meant. But now, if I could go back, I would have spent a lot more time with them so that I could show them the person I’ve become.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
… build a diverse community where people would be welcomed with open arms and receive any help or care they may need. I know that I couldn’t have come this far by myself. There have always been people who have supported me and helped me become a better person. I have come to know the depth and meaning of how important support is in a person’s life. I would like to have an opportunity to share the love I have received.
After graduation, I plan to...
… start my teaching career in Georgia. If not, I would like to teach abroad. I want to see how different countries value their education system and discover how it is different from our education system. Once I get some teaching experience, I would like to come back and get a master’s degree at UGA.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
… living in dorms. I love meeting new roommates and getting to know them. I will never forget the days when I first met each of my roommates. I will always cherish our memories of talking all night long, pulling all-nighters for tests and being there when I needed them.