International student spotlight: Taehee Kim

Taehee Kim, a student of UAA’s international studies program, is graduating with a mission: use his new knowledge to make a difference.

Photo courtesy of Taehee Kim.

Kim, who is majoring in international studies, is from South Korea. He has attended UAA since 2010. Like many students, Kim has mixed feelings about leaving such a large part of his life behind.

“I’m really excited and happy [about graduating] at the end of this semester,” Kim said. “I feel sad because there were a lot of students [who I knew] around campus when I came here, but students move or go to other states.”

Like other students he knew, Kim will be the next student to move on to a new chapter of his life with his degree. Leaving behind peers and friends on campus is a familiar struggle for many students. While Kim leaves his friends, he takes knowledge with him.

“I learned [that] we are facing all kinds of problems,” Kim said. “The problems are getting worse, but we as human beings do not have a solution yet.”

Kim recognizes that alone, he does not have much power to enact policy changes. In response to that knowledge, Kim wants to use his degree to work for a nongovernmental organization, or NGO.

Kim is particularly passionate about environmental issues. He understands climate change and pollution are hazards. Within an NGO, Kim feels he would be able to fight to protect Alaskan summers and countless other environments.

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“I think there is nowhere like Alaska in the summer,” Kim said.

Kim has consistently been on the Dean’s List over the duration of his studies. Sociology, political science and Spanish are some of Kim’s favorite areas of study from his time at UAA. Interacting with NGOs in Model UN this spring gave Kim a taste of working in the field.

“There are a lot of people who abuse their power out there,” Kim said. “I am looking for NGOs [to work for] so that I can approach the issues we have more closely in the field.”

Kim and numerous other graduates have been given knowledge that can be used to make a difference. International or local, all students have the potential to make something of their college experience.