KAGC Student Spotlight: Sandra, Boston College
Finding not only other undergraduate students who look like me and are invested in this specific field, but also adults who make it their livelihood to provide such a unique pipeline to the most powerful place in the country made me so gratuitous to KAGC.
Born and raised my entire twenty years of existence in the “Bergen bubble” of New Jersey simultaneously provided me with so much acceptance and foreignness. On a positive note, I never had to experience anything by myself. As a twin, I not only had someone that looked like me but also had someone that I felt comfortable with at every step of my childhood. We lived in a small town that was proud to be diverse and communal. As my twin sister and I navigated our way through the school system, with the help of our older sister, we felt assimilated and “normal.” When we opened up our lunch boxes, friends peered over in curiosity rather than in disgust. I always felt “cool” that my friends could see the time and effort that my mom put in to make various lunches for my sister and I every single day without fail. I happily ate Korean seaweed soup in our insulated containers and showed off the asian fruits my mom cut into shapes. My friends and I would go into lunchtime excited to see what we could secretly trade or share that day. One of my favorite days was our annual culture day, where parents, like my mom, would come in with hanboks and other traditional clothing and food for the students to try on and eat. I naively thought my experience was the societal norm, with immigrants from all walks of life feeling accepted and excited to bring pieces of their heritage into this big melting pot.
However, my vision of America and society itself began to reveal its true colors in high school. As a student in the Law & Justice major at Bergen Technical High school, I was immersed in a highly competitive environment that challenged every student to their specific disciplinary major. Learning about the foundation of government, the framework of our Constitution, and the roles that legislation has on American citizens, I found it incredibly engaging and immersive. Yet, one of the most common patterns I noticed was the lack of diversity in positions of power; white leaders of our country were making radical and fixed decisions that drastically affected people of color. With an ever increasing racial and ethnic diversity among the U.S. population, why was it so hard for us to gain a seat at the table?
Nevertheless, it was exactly because of this that I decided I wanted to be the first in my family to accomplish this arduous goal. By carefully crafting my college application, I was accepted into Boston College (BC) as a Political Science major on the Pre-Law track. BC was the first place that I felt surrounded by people who were politically active and civically engaged. I was so excited to have finally met people that I could converse with, and what was more surprising was the powerful and familial connection of the Asian community that shared this common interest. As the current Vice President of the Pre-Law Society for students of color and the Political Director of Asian Caucus, which is the umbrella organization of all Asian clubs that serve as a political voice and policy research group for the Asian-American community, I was able to work on panel events and collaborations to help share the importance political activism and history for our community.
As I was approaching the end of my sophomore year, I saw from the Korean Student Association (KSA) newsletter about KAGC’s 2022 Congressional Fellowship. Reading heavily into this organization and their mission, I felt as if I finally found a community that I could truly grow and connect with. Interning in New Jersey with State Senators and Representatives, I never felt a sense of belonging because I would always be the only Asian person working. In an already limited role, I felt that I was given even more mundane tasks because of how the higher-ups perceived me. I remember spending the whole weekend in the library typing up my essay and getting all my files in order to submit my application. I waited patiently to hear back, and before I knew it I was scrambling to find a place in Washington, D.C.
Working as a Legislative Intern on the Judiciary and Immigration portfolio for Senator Menendez has so far been such an enriching experience that I can only thank KAGC for. Like most Asian students, I had to always navigate my passion in law and politics by myself because nobody in my family had any personal ties to the legal field. Finding not only other undergraduate students who look like me and are invested in this specific field, but also adults who make it their livelihood to provide such a unique pipeline to the most powerful place in the country made me so gratuitous to KAGC. It has been so inspiring to network on the Hill and take advantage of all the opportunities I have received thus far. This experience has truly made me gain my sense of belonging and dreams closer than ever before.
Sandra Kim is a current junior at Boston College, where she majors in Political Science. In 2022, Sandra was selected as a 2022 Congressional Fellow and interned for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). She also attended and volunteered at the 2022 National Conference.
Click here to learn more about KAGC, the largest nationwide network of Korean American voters for opportunities to share the Korean American identity, discuss the key issues of our community, and get our voices heard, counted, and reflected in public policy.