In early April 2023, Daniel Eigler-Harding, a classmate of mine from Georgetown, reached out to me with a short text: "I have an idea."
That grew into us co-founding ema.ai, an AI-powered personal assistant company. We focus on applying conversational AI to consumer products.
The National Korean Student Alliance
Growing out from the KAPS project I launched in Spring 2021, the National Korean Student Alliance was formed to serve as a national umbrella organization. With a team of 10 dedicated young alumni of various Korean student organizations across the country, we are working hard to develop an organization that connects Korean American students and Korean Student Associations across the United States of America, provides these students and organizations with resources and networking opportunities to succeed, and advances Korean American interests, culture, and excellence.
Law school is a notoriously soul crushing place. Hundreds of pages of reading every week, curved finals that count for 95%+ of your grade. Sometimes you're just straight up not having a good time.
I've been blessed and lucky in that my experience has been positively shaped by a great group of friends and almost an over-emphasis on balance that has kept my mind off school and me sane. After talking with a buddy we thought it would be good if a bit more "chaotic good" was brought into the law school and Fun Club was born. It was a new tradition where law students take on the challenge to attend at least one game of every sport that has a varsity team at UVA (there's 27 across men and women's sports!) before they graduate. We kicked off our events at the end of the 2022 spring semester with Women's Lacrosse and Men's Baseball. I worked on this project with Paul Patton (Co-Commissioner) and Chris Hamborsky (Silly Goose).
UVA Oratory Competition
In the Spring of 2022 the UVA Department of Politics hosted its inaugural oratory competition. 8 finalists from the student body presented on the topic: what is the most important value to American democracy?
We had the opportunity to speak to a panel of judges, students, and community members in the dome of the Rotunda, an iconic building standing in the heart of Grounds. This was a great learning opportunity both as as competitor and an observer of the other great speeches.
Korean Association Presidents' Summit
In early 2021 I began planning an inaugural one-day virtual summit held for Presidents of collegiate Korean Student Associations and Organizations around the country. The goal of KAPS was to build a national Korean American student leader community and provide this community with access to a compilation of resources dedicated to Korean American students.
Building on this, a team of 4 recent college graduates organized 3 virtual summits and established the National Korean Student Alliance in order to help effectively collect and distribute resources to Korean American college students.
Young Asian Pacific American Leaders (yapal.org)
In the summer of 2020, I launched YAPAL (pronounced yuh-pall) as a national fellowship and professional development organization for young Asian Pacific Americans located throughout the United States. The organization grew to over 200 members and hosted events with Members of Congress, leading political professionals, and dozens of aspiring leaders.
My Personal Mindfulness Exercise
In the Spring of 2021 I built a tool to help me approach my goals and aspirations with more awareness. After some conversations with great friends who I thought to be driven, motivated, and successful, I realized what set them apart was their ability to critically analyze what they actually wanted to do, and to identify the steps that were necessary for them to achieve their goals. Based on these conversations I built out this template for an exercise that I try to do once or twice a year as a way to touch base and chart out a path to help me be more aware and productive in my daily life.
In the Spring of 2019 I found myself bored at home over a longer-than-usual winter break. I was getting ready to study abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea and the program didn't start until March. With a lot of time on my hands, I began looking for internships for the summer and realized that their had to be a better way. Poking through website after website I decided to compile my search and share my results with other Korean American students. The database is a little old now, but most of the internships are still relevant and the organizations offer great resources. Iterations of this project have made it into both YAPAL and KAPS, with the latter organization ultimately morphing into the N-KSA.
First attempt at "spoken word"
Watch my story, "Half-breed", where I talk about my experience growing up as a biracial American at the Council of Korean Americans Gala ROAR Story Slam.
This was my first time getting to share my journey with a large group of Korean Americans and marked a shift in my attitude towards embracing my heritage.
It also made me critically think about how we present ourselves and what we change about our stories to fit a more streamlined narrative. After this experience, I made a commitment to avoid retroactively editing my own experiences as much as possible.
Designing a more interesting Zoom background
Like most people in 2020 I spent way too much time behind a computer screen and in front of a webcam. I decided to upgrade my backdrop and started looking for posters that would make the blank wall of my apartment a little more interesting but couldn't find anything that matched what I specifically wanted - so I tried to make it myself.
Here's my attempt at wall art. I like a more minimalist style (convenient for someone with little-to-no artistic training). It's nothing earth-shattering or impressive, but it felt great to design something, print it out, and mount it on my wall. The ownership I felt over something I had created, the feeling that I had made something unique and meaningful to me, was great.
The design is inspired by my background and family heritage, and each poster is signed in the relevant language for its design.
Building Korean American Community
In the summer of 2018 I was interning in New York City and spending excessive amounts of time in KTown, taking in the Korean BBQ restaurants and bustling nightlife. It was exciting to see so many other young Korean Americans and I decided to try my hand at bringing the community together by hosting an event for Korean college students who were in town for the summer. The 2018 NYC Chimaek event had 8 schools co-sponsor and over 40 attendees. I didn't have much money at the time, and my classmate and co-host (Ryan Bae from Georgetown) and I ended up shelling out a couple hundred dollars each to help cover food. It felt like a huge expense at the time to a naive college kid, but we understood the power of bringing people together and were excited by the idea of building this community.