From a former Doctoral Student to a champion of Social Justice –A story of Alumnus Dr. Myung Park (’18)

Dr. Myung Park a graduate of the Educational Leadership Program (EdD’2018) remains one of the passionate graduates College of Education EDLR program has had. Myung is the Executive Director for international education at Pierce Colleges with admission of about 500 international students annually accounting to slightly over 5% of the population of the pierce colleges, a number projected to grow to 10% by 2021.“International education is my passion, and I think it means more than concentrating on students, and you have to figure out the faculty, college, business partners, and the community into that mix,” Myung narrates.

Her work with International educations has increased opportunities for global learning for international students at all Pierce College campuses in Seattle. “My work is not just about serving international students who come to the Pierce colleges, but I work daily with my team to make the entire Pierce College environment more global, and making this possible by creating more opportunities for our students to learn overseas, to see how education, business and communities operate collaboratively”, Myung explains.

Myung’s experience in managing education dates back from her early work as the Executive Director for Global Programs and Partnerships at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Myung recalls often picturing herself for many years to work in an international relations role while growing up as a young girl in Seoul, South Korea. Fast-forward, Myung’s December 2013 arrival at Pierce College as the Executive Director of International Education, her childhood dream generally came to full circle — with Pierce colleges continuously gaining a name as an innovative, proven leader in the process of globalization college education.

As a strategic thought leader in higher education, Myung Park continues to apply her strength in finance, and emerging technologies to create and build international education departments that support positive enrollment, revenue growth, and student success. In her own words, Myung states, “I am always in pursuit of new challenges, and enjoy working cross-functionally to promote, and gain adoption of ideas that drive brand awareness, and engagement for institutions of higher learning”. Myung’s higher education efforts have paid off in different ways including leading to an increase in international admissions at Pierce Colleges with students coming from thirty-eight countries.

Asked about what she found exciting during her time with the EOLL program, Myung is quick to say, “My experience at Seattle University was an amazing one and especially the great confidence that professors like Dr. Collette Taylor build for us as students moved me a lot”. Myung narrates her class work experience about social justice that she adds reminded her of her father’s vision of "equity for all", which she explains has since stuck with her.  Myung recalls how her father brought together other thirteen (13) families as part of their family over the years. “These were either families he found on streets suffering or working for very low or sometimes no pay that he would bring them along to give them alternatives for survival in their home in Korea. “These families ended up being part of our family in the longer run for the rest of their lives”, Myung adds. She recalls her father sharing whatever resources he had with the community in need, something she found weird as a young girl then because as a child, she did not understand why he was doing what he was doing, not until her enrollment into the EDLR program that introduced her to social justice work. Myung then began recalling all the memories of her father’s plight for those in need as a social justice action to those that were in need.

Myung has not remained the same after her experience with the program; she has decided that it is time for her to contribute to social justice promotion by sharing her resources with those in great need just like her father’s plight for others even with the little he had.  Recalling how she came to the USA just with as little as $1000 in 1987 that was just as enough to pay a onemonth rent, buying a few groceries, and about $50 for any emergency fund, and looking at the strides she has made in life from support extended by other people, she feels it is time to go beyond her career and begin supporting social justice work.

Myung and her husband have decided to start a family foundation that she explains will be a vehicle for supporting those in great need in the greater Washington area and internationally. "My father did not wait to have a lot to share, yet he touched lives of many families, so, we are firm about giving back to the community since other community members have been there for us as a family", Myung casually narrates with a smile on her face.  "Our children have grown, with our daughter now 27 years, and our son aged 24, we feel the pressure to earn and save to support them has reduced", Myung adds. She narrates how if it was not the learning acquired from the doctoral program, she would never realize how much of a change maker she would be in promoting social justice through her leadership and resources.

The focus of Myung’s family foundation named SKY (Support Kids and Youth), will majorly support girls in need with respect to education access locally, and internationally. Myung looks back and recalls how far she has come now with this vision, and is very enthusiastic about disrupting the marginalization, and inequity issues pertaining to girls’ access to education and improving the livelihoods of those in the care of girls. Myung adds how the foundation is committed to supporting education of kids and youth to aim high, and work to realize their possibilities.

Alongside that, Myung’s foundation is committed to supporting mothers who are behind every kid's success. “I am a beneficiary of my mother’s vision, and dedication toward her children, and am looking forward to working alongside women as I reach the kids and youth in our foundation's work", Myung explains. "I have a drive and passion for educating women leaders because women can be more impactful”, Myung adds while sharing her passionate drive for social change.

“I believe in social transformation that to me includes care about others, enabling others to live their lives well”. Myung adds.  She describes the catch word for her new family foundation, to be "Support People Aim High”, and expresses how their vision is to share with others what they have to enable them end oppression.  It is this drive that has pushed Myung to support College of Education Center for Social Transformation and Leadership (CSTL) because she believes that every doctoral student who graduates from the program have the capability to impact and change lives and the environment within which they work in order to accelerate social justice. “As a center that is aimed at training leaders, and providing opportunities for engagements on social justice issues, I feel much honored to be associated with it alongside my foundation dream”, says Myung.

Myung’s story is just one among the many other graduates of the EDLR program. Her story articulates the bigger vision of the program of creating leaders who are prepared to lead with a passionate commitment toward transformative social change globally. As Myung progresses in her career, and with her strong networking skills that places her high in cultivating relationships with government, community members, industry leaders, her dream to growing her social justice efforts through her foundation is a possibility. It is stories like these that paint a picture of the breadth of our EDLR program at the College of Education.