Our CAPAL Scholar Spotlight is Hayeon Kim, an incoming third year at Northwestern University, committed to Korean American advocacy. She is currently interning at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC).
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects?
At the EPA, I am representing the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), a non-profit organization that promotes APIA representation in all levels of the political process through leadership, education and programming. For my project, I am reviewing one of CHPAC’s recommendation letters from 2014 on Social Determinants of Health and investigating whether or not the EPA has met the recommendations.
How does this internship/scholarship fit with your professional and career goals?
My involvement in CAPAL and APAICS have been the highlight of my summer, as I have gotten the opportunity to meet Korean Americans and Asian Pacific Americans alike in various positions in community organizations, federal agencies and on the Hill. I am interested in policies and literature that advance the rights of marginalized groups, therefore my CAPAL and APAICS communities have been the forefront of my internship experience in D.C. in inspiring me to pursue a political career in the future.
What do you hope to achieve this summer through your scholarship/internship experience?
I hope to grow my network base in D.C. and to learn about ways in which other AAPI leaders got to where they are today. I definitely want to come back to D.C. and return the favor to the next generation of AAPIs when I am older.
What does public service mean to you?
Public service means not forgetting the people I have connected with in the past and never silencing the voices of the marginalized across multiple communities. As Grace Lee Boggs said, “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” In this light, public service isn’t for publicity’s sake. It’s not about nominations, appointments, medals, honors, or awards, but the passion and urgency to rise with our community members as if our livelihood depends on it.
What do you consider to be the most interesting thing about you?
On the side, I am an oral historian for a research project on Korean American activism with Professor Ji-Yeon Yuh and colleague Lee Won Park from Northwestern University. Currently, Korean American activism is an under researched area of American history. Our mission is to create a digitized, historic record of Korean American activism for the public that would be accessible decades down the road. I’ve already interviewed people from the National Association of Korean Americans (NAKA) and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and hope to meet more community organizers from WCCW, KAAW, KOWIN, CKA and other acronyms I have yet to learn. Let me know if you have any contacts!
What are you most excited to do in Washington D.C. this summer?
I am a 1.5 (more like 1.8) Korean American immigrant who recently received her American citizenship. I am the only one in my immediate family with an American citizenship and without an Anglicized name. In this season, I am critically observing the ways in which our country has historically and systematically defined Americanism within a white complex. Especially in D.C., where explicit patriotism is fundamental for social and political success, my not-so-Asian and not-so-American stereotypical identities are in tension. Whereas the need to constantly prove my Americaness is instilled in my upbringing (cue the classic ‘Where are you from?’ question), I am also growing more conscious and prideful of my Asian identity.
So, I guess I’m most excited to learn about myself this summer.
Hayeon is a rising third year student at Northwestern University studying American Studies and Asian American Studies. She is a 1.5 generation Korean American excited with the opportunity to learn about the AAPI identity as it functions today and in history. At school, she is a Resident Assistant and work study student and minor of the Asian American Studies Program that began through a student-led hunger strike in 1995. With this personal history in mind, she hopes to fight for the rights of the AAPI community through her involvement in student government and Asian Pacific American Coalition. Furthermore, she is interested in immigration rights in the context of language access and government support. Through CAPAL, she hopes to learn more about ways to advocate for the AAPI community in federal employment.
Meet all of our 2015 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted by Taylor Huang-Boutelle
Taylor is an incoming Senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is double majoring in World Literature and Feminist Studies, with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Social Change. Taylor is in the D.C. cohort for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (www.causeusa.org) and is currently a summer interns at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, where she is focusing on development and fundraising, and will be developing the blog content for this summer. Taylor is passionate about issues of representation, coalition between underserved communities, and creating spaces for strength and solidarity around injustices through community activism and public policy. taylor.boutelle [at] capal [dot] org