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‘Fuelled my passion’

Strong bonds for Memorial alumni who experience Korean exchanges

Teaching and Learning

By Jennifer Batten

From mutual support of global alumni communities to internship and co-op employment in alumni-owned companies or organizations to prospective student referrals, Memorial alumni connections run deep all over the world.

A group of people at a table with food and drinks are smiling at a camera. There are numerous business signs in Korean that are visible through the window.
A gathering in Seoul, South Korea, this past spring of Memorial alumni.
Photo: Submitted

While relationships are often formally forged at alumni events through scholarships and other giving opportunities, alumni connections that can lead to life-changing experiences also happen through less formal channels.

Korean gathering

When Memorial staff and faculty travel abroad for recruitment activities, they sometimes have the opportunity to meet with alumni.

In late spring 2023, Andrew Kim, director of graduate enrolment services, and Sonja Knutson, director of the Internationalization Office, hosted a casual event in Seoul, South Korea, for former Memorial students.

“Immersing in the vibrant Korean culture expanded my horizons and fuelled my passion for technology.” — Justin Lee

They reached out to alumni on social media and via email and were pleased that 12 former students were able to join them for a meal.

“Several of them who showed up expressed over and over again their gratefulness and surprise that we reached out in this way,” said Dr. Knutson. “They kept saying how happy they were and even though they hadn’t known each other, they were all excited to meet, and moved around the table to get to know each other and talk about their time at Memorial. It was really inspiring.”

Justin Lee is one of the former Memorial students who attended that evening.

Mr. Lee participated in an exchange program developed by Dr. Knutson and Mr. Kim. He travelled to Korea and never looked back.

He says his 10 years in Korea, both as a university student from Memorial and a working professional in the tech industry, continue to be a “life-changing” experience.

“Immersing in the vibrant Korean culture expanded my horizons and fuelled my passion for technology,” said Mr. Lee. “The lessons I learned as a student shaped me into a globally minded individual, ready to adapt to new challenges. The invaluable experiences and opportunities in Korea continue to propel my personal and professional growth to this day.”

Diane Jung spent a semester at Memorial as part of her exchange program.

“Life at Memorial was wonderful from the very first day and even changed my life.” — Diane Jung

She says she jumped at the chance to reconnect and joined the gathering after receiving a LinkedIn message from Dr. Knutson.

“For me, life at Memorial was wonderful from the very first day and even changed my life,” said Ms. Jung. “The flight was delayed, the rain was heavy and I got lost in the middle of Gower Street, but with the help of people at Memorial and people in Newfoundland, things got easier. Throughout the semester, I came to love the challenges and to be more confident from the experiences.”

“The study abroad experience was life-changing for the students we talked to,” said Mr. Kim. “Hearing from them was certainly confirmation of the value of the partnership work that we do. Memorial alumni working in Korea credit their experience abroad with giving them confidence in their current lives and careers.”

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