By JU HONG
(Interviewed by Carolina Valdivia)
Ju emigrated from South Korea to the United States when he was 11 years old. Ju attended Laney College in Oakland, where he was elected as the first Asian American and the youngest student body president. He graduated from Laney College with a 3.8 GPA and transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he ran for student government senator and was elected as the very first undocumented student government senator in UC Berkeley history. In fall 2012, Ju graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Currently, he is pursuing a Master’s degree in public administration at San Francisco State University. After he finishes the program, he hopes to work at a nonprofit organization to continue to advocate for the rights of immigrant community. He also hopes to work in the local government as a legislative aide to support legislators in several broad areas, such as administration, research and analysis, and public relations and communications.
How early did you prepare to apply for graduate school program? In my personal experience, it took me about a year to prepare to apply for graduate school programs. In the beginning of the year, I looked into different programs and institutions to compare tuition fees, resources and opportunities, and career choices. In addition, my mentors and undocumented graduate students gave me insightful tips and suggestions on how to find the best graduate school program that perfectly fits to my professional career goals in the future. After much thought and careful consideration, I decided to apply for Public Administration Program at San Francisco State University. From then on, I prepared by gathering recommendation letters, drafting my personal statement, and studying for the GRE. During the application process, one of my questions was- Should I reveal my immigration status in the personal statement or not? In the beginning, I was hesitant to reveal my immigration status, but in the end I decided to talk about my immigration status because it was one of my main reasons why I applied for Public Administration’s program in the first place. The entire process took me about eight to twelve months. Although it was a long draining process, it was a very rewarding experience especially once I knew that I got accepted to the program.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give other undocumented students considering/applying to graduate school? Prepare as much as possible. Based on my personal experience, the more time you spend on your application process, you will have a higher chance of getting into the program that you apply for. So what are you waiting for? Start preparing for graduate school TODAY! If I can do it, you can do it too.
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