Eungjae (NJ) Kim graduated summa cum laude in biology in 2019 from Emory University while also competing in baseball. During his time as a student-athlete, he served as the vice chairperson on the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Executive Board and was named Emory's Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2019. This spring, he was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, bestowed upon student-athletes who excel academically and athletically, while also serving as leaders in the community.
The UAA “Conversations About Race and Racism” series seeks to lift the voices of people of color and recognize the challenges faced in both athletics and academics at the collegiate level. By sharing personal stories, we hope to elevate the conversation about race to raise awareness and bring about change.
Whether it’d be a reflection on race, ethnicity, stigma of mental illness, Title IX, or other social inequalities aggravated by suppressive ideals and prejudices, I believe an effective way to address these reflections is through a centralized effort amongst the students, staff, and faculty in which the topic of “diversity and inclusion” is discussed or at least recognized in the campus community.
When I stepped foot on campus at Emory University (19C), there were two things I got out of orientation week: 1) I didn’t have to attend every event, which my orientation leader tricked me into showing up each event as she stated that attendance was “mandatory,” and 2) “diversity and inclusion” was something that my school took seriously. The latter stuck with me because as my orientation group discussed diversity and attempted to sensitize cultural relativity and differences, I noticed how different my classmates looked from each other. Our skin color was different, and so were our clothes, hairstyles, accents, and verbal expressions. I also remember this topic of discussion from orientation week because I heard “diversity and inclusion” not only for one day, but throughout the orientation week.
I come from a large, diverse public high school in Texas, so I already had accommodated cooperating and sharing meals with people from the four corners of the earth. However, “diversity and inclusion” remained in my conscious, if not, subconscious because my institution’s value of D&I was imprinted in me through early intervention. This actually had provided a sense of belonging and a welcoming acceptance in the new setting no matter what my background, or my classmates’ and professors’ background may have been.
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