The second largest city in South Korea, Busan, is home to current Golden Eagle Hyunwook “Yun” Cho. Located close to Japan and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Busan is an area categorized by a fast-paced nature and emphasis on convenience. Moving from an active area with a population of more than three million to rural Crookston with a fraction of its population was not a challenge for Cho as he had his eyes set on attending an American university from a young age. At around 13 years old, his family took a trip to America for the first time. During their trip, they participated in a tour of a university in California which guided Cho’s future college plans. For the first two years of his college experience beginning in 2015, he studied graphic design at both the University of Minnesota Duluth and Twin Cities campuses. With a fellow friend from his hometown attending the Twin Cities campus, Cho felt a sense of home even while away.
Cho returned to Busan for the following three years to fulfill the military service requirement for his country. Although he was only required to serve two years, the pandemic prevented him from returning to America for another year. Once it was safe to travel again, Cho transferred to the University of Minnesota Crookston and became a Golden Eagle. He recalls he was drawn to the university because it was both transfer-friendly and affordable. Rae French and Sok Leng Tan, international student advisor and director of global programs at UMN Crookston respectively, were positive influences on his transfer experience as well. They provided Cho all the information he needed to successfully transfer his credits and start this new chapter of his life. Cho explains they have continued to be a helpful resource for him, not just in his transfer to the university, but in every aspect of his college life. From providing advice to finding opportunities on campus, Cho is grateful for all the kindness they have shown him since he came to UMN Crookston in the fall of 2021.
Being an international student allowed Cho to connect with other students from around the world. “Since it's a small campus, all international students know each other and get along,” Cho explained. As a member of the International Program at UMN Crookston, he helps French host events for international students while also participating in the fun. In the past, Cho has attended events including a corn maze, haunted house, and a ski trip in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Because Cho had only lived and attended schools in urban areas, this was his first time participating in these activities. Enjoying the outdoors and natural environment of Crookston and the surrounding area has been a perk of attending a rural university.
When Cho is not involved in the events hosted for international students, you can find him volunteering, spending time with friends, and enjoying on-campus activities. Delta Theta Sigma (DTS), a fraternity at UMN Crookston, is a group Cho’s friends recommended he join. He explained that DTS focuses much of its attention on helping the community through volunteering efforts. In the past, for example, the group helped a homeless shelter in town clear the building for them to start remodeling the facility. Outside of the fraternity, Cho also participated in the intramural volleyball tournament hosted by the Wellness Center earlier in the year and frequently works out there with his friends as well.
Cho’s academic plan shifted slightly when he began attending UMN Crookston. He switched his major from graphic design to communication upon admission, and enrolled in the new graphic design minor on campus. In describing his switch to the communication major, Cho noted, “Communication is a very broad study, and I also thought it could provide many different jobs.” Megan Bell, Ph.D., his academic advisor, has guided him throughout his journey as a communication student, and Cho respects her timely responses and kind nature in helping him set up his classes. One of his favorite classes he has taken for the communication program is digital marketing. Within this course, he participated in an online simulation to see how digital marketers select keywords and optimize their advertisements to increase sales. It was enjoyable for Cho to receive feedback about the money his decisions generated every week for a hypothetical company.
UMN Crookston is known for its hands-on programs, and the communication program is no exception. In addition to the core required classes for the major, students enroll in an internship course to gain more experience in the communication field before they graduate. At the end of the spring 2022 semester, the helpful guidance from his two mentors, Megan Bell and Rae French, led Cho to a summer internship with the University and Alumni Relations Office on campus. Because of his background in graphic design, this marketing and social media internship seemed to be the perfect fit for him. Throughout the summer of 2022, he has created graphics for the university social media accounts and around campus, facilitated marketing efforts, and attended meetings with his supervisor, Kelsey Engelstad. He notes the work environment is lighthearted and supportive with jokes enjoyed throughout the day. “The people are really nice, but at the same time, they are really professional,” he mentioned. Cho admires the leadership he views from this office and hopes to pick up on these skills within the three months of this internship.
As an aspiring human resources or sales employee, Cho will be entering his final semester at UMN Crookston with his future career in mind. There are countless career paths ahead of him, and the experiences he had at UMN Crookston have opened more opportunities and ideas for jobs. “Since I’m doing the internship, I realized I really like doing the graphic design stuff and marketing or social media too,” Cho stated. After being in the United States for the past few years and enjoying his time here, he wants to stay and work for a company in the country after graduation. In the meantime, however, Cho will be following in traditional UMN Crookston style: making new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
Cho’s Favorite Summer Activity: Traveling to different places.
Written for the Summer 2022 Torchlight e-Newsletter.