Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Jennifer Young Mi Park

Why Wheaton? The professors! I have learned so much from all of the professors I have had during my years here.

Something interesting about me: I have been to over 20 countries. I started traveling when I was only a few months old and have loved it ever since! I hope my story inspires you to do something similar because the experience of helping others is the truly best birthday gift you could ever imagine.

Sweet Sixteen: During my service trip to Mongolia with Rotary International, I met children who were born with congenital heart disease. I learned that without surgical treatment, most of them die before they are thirty years old. Unfortunately, due to the lack of medical services in Mongolia, surgical treatment requires a trip abroad – a trip that most families cannot afford.

When I returned home to Korea, I immediately found ways to raise money for these young children. I held bake sales at Rotary International functions and turned my sweet sixteen into a fundraiser—I was able to raise a little over $4,000, which was enough to cover the cost of two surgeries. I also shared my project with the Asian American Coalition (AAC) during my year as the co-president and raised about $100 from donations from the Wheaton community during our Lunar New Year Festival.

Celebrating birthdays: Similar to bringing my projects with the Mongolian environment and children to the community at Wheaton, I have also been trying to spread the word of my current project. The goal of this project is to encourage and inspire others to turn the celebration of their birthday as an occasion to give back to their community. I hope to share with my peers the gift of helping others. Check out my article in the September-October SSSR Community Letter to learn more!

Dinner with a historical figure: I would love to have dinner with my late great-grandmother—a prominent figure in the history of women’s education in Korea. I have so many questions to ask her about what it was like to challenge society’s traditional beliefs of women and education. She provided women with a chance to educate themselves by establishing higher institutions of education.