December Graduate Global Student of the month
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Our Graduate Global Student of the Month is Youngok Song, also known as Sunny. A native of South Korea, Sunny is currently pursuing her Graduate degree in Marketing and is in her second year.
South Korea is described as a dynamic country. After the colonial period, the Korean War devastated the country, killing and injuring millions of people and scaring those who survived. South Korea became one of the world's poorest countries, but with the effort, the economy of South Korea has become the 12th largest in the world.
Today, South Korea is known for pop culture, such as the K-pop genre and films. BTS music boy band has gained attention globally, and the Korean Film Parasite was the first non-English language movie to win the Oscar for best picture.
"I am proud of my country that overcame difficulties and now brings people pleasure," Sunny said.
Sunny came to the United States for the first time in 2011 through the exchange student program, where she lived in Jackson, Mississippi, for one year. She worried that since she did not speak English and knew very little about Mississippi's culture, the culture shock might be harmful. However, once she began interacting with people and studying, she realized being in the states brought her joy. Sunny was inspired to continue living and working in the U.S.
After her time in Mississippi, Sunny went to Arizona and began volunteer work with American Conservation Experience. There she helped eliminate invasive plants and built fences to protect wild animals in national parks with other volunteer workers worldwide.
Following that experience, she kept studying and got into the master's marketing program at Clemson University. During that master's program, Sunny rounded her skills and abilities to prepare for a doctoral program. Finally, in 2019, she came to Oklahoma.
"As a doctoral student, it was easy to choose the marketing doctoral program at OSU because professors' research is fascinating and impactful," Sunny said. "… I heard that the marketing program at OSU was excellent... the professors at our program communicate well and think together to make the program its best."
"As an international student, loneliness is the most difficulties students face," Sunny said. "Holidays in the U.S. are the hardest time, although it should be a pleasure. I have no place to visit in the U.S., so I have to wait for my fellows to come back to the empty town. However, the OSU community made me feel I belong to this community."
For Thanksgiving, Sunny said one of the faculty members invited her to his house for dinner. She said his family welcomed her and other international students and treated them like family members with delicious American foods such as Turkey and pumpkin pie.
Besides the academic setting, Sunny explored how meaningful it was for her to get to know the people she worked with. She was nervous her first semester, but the OSU community welcomed her to talk with other Ph.D. students and faculty. It became easier to speak with professors or staff throughout her time at OSU.
"I was impressed by the diversity at OSU," Sunny said. "At OSU, I can see that faculty and staff are diverse, and if I have questions, staffs are happy to help us. Students are also very diverse, so I feel safe and a sense of belonging at OSU. I am susceptible to the relationship with others, and at OSU, I feel like I am home."