Baylor Student Awarded 2016 Korean Honor Scholarship

September 1, 2016

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Sept. 1, 2016) – Junha Kwon, a senior economics and finance double major at Baylor University, recently received the 2016 Korean Honor Scholarship, which is awarded to outstanding students of Korean heritage to encourage high achievement of academic performance and the development of leadership qualities for their future professional careers.

The scholarship, sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, was established in 1981 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between Korea and the United States. More than 3,000 scholarships have been awarded to outstanding Korean and Korean-American students over the past 35 years.

This year, Kwon was chosen as the grand-prize winner of more than 30 scholarship recipients, including students from Harvard University, Princeton University and Columbia University

Kwon said his experiences interning in Seoul this summer for Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) prepared him to become the ideal applicant for this scholarship.

“TNKR provides free one-on-one English tutoring opportunities for North Korean refugees who escaped from the authoritarian state,” Kwon said. “In South Korean society, the refugees find it extremely difficult to compete for jobs with their South Korean counterparts, who often possess a much higher level of education. Therefore, refugees must acquire English proficiency in order to land a job and survive in South Korea.”

Through his internship, Kwon taught English to two refugees, edited the speeches of TNKR’s special ambassadors and helped organize and launch TNKR’s “How Can I Help North Korean Refugees” project.

One of the people Kwon met through this project was In Cheol Hwang, a man who has been working to raise awareness about the 1969 Korean Air Lines YS-11 hijacking, in which a Korean Air Lines plane flying a domestic route was hijacked by a North Korean agent. Hwang is the son of one of the abducted passengers and is petitioning for the return of his father, who is still detained in North Korea. Kwon served as the official translator for Hwang at the Freedom Bridge, a South Korean landmark, and launched a petition to raise awareness about the hijacking.

The scholarship selection committee considered applicants’ Korean language proficiency, GPA, resume, recommendation from a professor and an essay on one of two assigned topics relating to the applicant’s experiences and identity as a Korean-American.

“For many years, I struggled to understand my dual identity as a Korean-American and lacked self-confidence,” Kwon said. “I had flown to Korea to join TNKR in obedience to a calling from God. Obeying God freed me from all my self-doubts and confusion and provided me with more blessings than I can recount.”

After he graduates in December 2017, Kwon aspires to attend the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, where he plans to pursue an M.P.P./ J.D. joint degree in educational policy.

“I hope that this scholarship will serve as a solid platform to launch my grad school application,” Kwon said. “No matter what happens, I pray that God will continue to use me to glorify Him.”

by Kalli Damschen, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.