The White House honored Dr. Hyun Chong Kim, professor of art ceramics in the College of Liberal Arts, with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers.
In April 2018, Kim received a medal, certificate, and letter that partly read: “I thank you for your service to your fellow Americans and those most in need.”
The award further acknowledges Kim’s efforts to promote awareness and understanding of Korea, Korean people and culture to the American public and Jackson State University.
“First I want to thank God for giving me the knowledge and the talent to help and inspire others as well as my students.” Kim said, “I also was surprised but feel honored and humbled to receive this recognition.”
The professor also expressed her gratitude for the contributions that her family and JSU has extended over her “34-year-long American adventure.”
Kim explains that she has always tried to represent Korean people and her culture in a positive light. She has reached out to Korean War veterans and their families to express appreciation for their sacrifices in bringing freedom and democracy to the South Korean people.
The Korean-American community in central Mississippi is relatively small and not well organized, limiting the opportunity for group initiatives, according to Kim. But about six years ago, largely by chance, she began to have contact with individuals in the Houston area.
“I discovered that there is huge Korean-American community there, they are well organized and include many successful business people and individuals who are politically well connected.” She said, “There is a branch Embassy there. Through these contacts I have been able to bring a Korean dance group to perform at JSU, veteran’s homes, churches and other venues.”
Among her many contributions, Kim, for two years, was able to sponsor an essay contest at JSU regarding Korean-American issues with a $500 first prize and a $250 second prize. At the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean Conflict, she also staged a major dinner event honoring veterans and their spouses.
College of Liberal Arts Dean Dr. Mario Azevedo described Kim as one of the best representatives in the areas of service for the college.
“We are all proud of her dedication and hope she serves as a shining model for her colleagues,” he added.
To be eligible for the award, Kim was nominated and sponsored by Mr. Bae Chang-Jun president of the Houston chapter of the 17th National Unification Advisory. The advisory is a regulatory consultative body on the reunification of the Korean peninsula, formulating and implementing policies on democratic and peaceful unification through the consensus of political parties and the public.