Korean student graduates summa cum laude from Harvard
For the first time a Korean student has graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University.
Jin Kwon-yong, an economics major, was one of the two highest ranking undergraduates out of 1,552 graduates at the commencement ceremony at the prestigious Ivy League school, Thursday.
The 20-year-old graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average after completing the four-year course in three years.
Together with the honor, Jin received the John H. Williams Prize, awarded to the student in the economics department graduating with the best overall record.
Jin also received the Hoopes Prize, Harvard’s highest honor for undergraduate writing.
It is the first time for a student with Korean nationality to graduate as the highest ranking undergraduate at Harvard.
Jin said the key to his outstanding academic achievements was his diligence in attending classes. Because the classes at Harvard cover extensive amounts of class work each time, if one were to miss even one, significant time and effort would have to be spent on catching up.
According to Jin, he was able to earn his grades by focusing while in class and taking detailed notes.
Although an economics major, he has proven excellence in other fields as well.
The essay he wrote for a biology course, “The Risk of vCJD Transmission by Blood and Suggested Public Policy Response,” was awarded first place for the Conant Prize, given to the best essay on a subject of scientific interest, for a general education course in natural sciences.
The essay was selected to be in a textbook for freshmen at undergraduate level.
While still an undergraduate, Jin took courses at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, receiving top grades for all four courses.
After leaving Korea, Jin arrived in the United States during 6th grade of elementary school to pursue his studies abroad.
The valedictorian added that his inquiring mind and sense of independence came from his parents, who have emphasized the importance of self-motivation and responsibility.
Jin, who was accepted into Yale and Harvard’s law schools in December, has decided to attend Yale, to be able to experience varying academic traditions.
When asked about his future dreams, Jin said he hopes to be a lawyer that represents Korea’s interests in suits between countries involving finance and international trade.
Another Korean student is to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy with honors and become a state scholarship recipient at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Choi Woo-suk, aged 22, will graduate at the top of the economics department with a grade point average of 3.93. He also qualified for Graduation with Distinction, which is awarded to those within the top 100 out of the total of 1,200 graduates.
He was included as the only Asian in the top 20 that are given the privilege to pursue a master’s degree at distinguished universities across the nation, and he will study public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School starting August.