by Natalia Kirychuk, Student Public Relations Writer
At the age of 15, SangYo Kim came to the United States from Seoul, South Korea, as an exchange student at a small Christian school in Pennsylvania. He entered Cedarville University in 2009, but took two years off for mandatory service in the South Korean military. Kim returned to Cedarville following his discharge and is now a third-year pharmacy graduate student, looking forward to a 2020 graduation.
When he reached the United States at age 15, Kim struggled with American culture and language but loved the educational structure. When he was in need of a new host family, the principal of his school volunteered. Kim considers their home his second home and visits every Thanksgiving.
Through the witness of his host family and fellow students, Kim saw what it meant to be a follower of Christ and began to study the Bible. He appreciated the moral standard that God held and after giving his life to Jesus, he felt God was leading him into the medical field. He visited Cedarville University on a college trip in high school, experienced a CU Friday, a planned visit day held multiple times each school year, and loved the dining hall food. His host mom encouraged him to attend Cedarville, and the rest is history.
“It's been such a pleasure getting to know SangYo and watching him grow over the years,” said Dr. Jeb Ballentine, Kim’s former academic advisor. “In the time that I've known him, his life experiences haven't always been the easiest, yet I've never seen him without a big smile on his face! He takes life as it comes, deals with the hardships head-on and overcomes.”
Since being at Cedarville, Kim has been on missions trips to Korea and to Atlanta, Georgia. He is also involved with the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) and a local Korean church in Beavercreek, Ohio.
“The Cedarville environment is encouraging to me,” said Kim. “Having spiritually minded people around me helps me grow in that mindset. And at Cedarville, that’s the majority. I feel bolder and stronger in my faith. More growth needs to happen, but being here has really developed my relationship with Christ.”
Every male citizen of South Korea is required to serve two years in the military, and Kim anticipated doing his service after completing his education. But, after failing a class during his third year, he decided to take a break from academics and complete the military requirement.
After being heavily challenged in school, Kim wanted to challenge himself in the military as well. He applied and was accepted to the Special Duty Team (SDT) in counter-terrorism. Once a year, he and other South Korean military members trained with U.S. Marines. In these interactions, Kim served as a translator and taught the Marines rappelling skills.
“For two years I was able to collaborate, work and live with people I didn’t know,” said Kim. “It was a very growing experience. I was built up physically and mentally and really saw myself mature.”
“Coming back to school was really tough,” he continued. “All of my friends had graduated and it felt like I didn’t know anything. I had lost some of my English and was rusty at academics. I decided to move back into the residence halls rather than live off campus. I met other pharmacy students in Palmer Hall and that helped with the adjustment.”
As a graduate student, Kim had the opportunity to provide health screenings to veterans at the Greene County Veterans’ Services Resource Fair in Xenia, Ohio, on October 22. When he heard that Korean War veterans would be present, he signed up immediately. At the fair, he was able to help meet their medical needs and hear their stories; he thanked them for serving both their country and his.
Kim is currently looking at options for his career after graduation. He is excited to possibly complete clinical requirements in South Korea and then return to the United States to work as a pharmacist in a community setting. He would also love to join the American military if a position for a pharmacist opens up.
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.