From left: Pamela McCarroll, vice-principal and Jane and Geoffrey Martin Chair in Practical Theology; students Hye Lim Yoon and Sungmin Park; Principal HyeRan Kim-Cragg; and student Jaemin Lee at a scholarship fundraising event. Photo by Mary Heinmaa.
By Sally Szuster
For second-year Emmanuel College PhD student Hye Lim Yoon, scholarships make the difference between affording basic necessities such as food and housing and being able to continue her academic studies. “The financial pressure is very alive and present in my life,” she explains.
Yoon chose to pursue her doctoral studies at Emmanuel College after completing her Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary because she found an inspirational mentor in Rev. Dr. HyeRan Kim-Cragg, principal of Emmanuel College. “I’d met Professor Kim-Cragg at a conference focused on Asian women in theology and we just really connected. Our areas of research, specifically homiletics (preaching), were very similar and I knew that she would be the right fit for me as supervisor for my PhD. I feel very lucky to have found my academic home at Emmanuel, but for students like me, scholarships aren’t just nice to have—they are a necessity to pursuing our studies.”
Their academic focus wasn’t the only thing Kim-Cragg and Yoon had in common. Both are from Korea, a country with a long history and deep roots in the United Church and Emmanuel College which was developed through United Church missionaries to Korea 125 years ago. In 1928, the year Emmanuel College opened, the first Korean student to join Emmanuel, Rev. Jaerin Moon, was also the first recipient of a Korean scholarship from the United Church. Since then, over 100 Korean Emmanuel College graduates have made important contributions to theology, ministry, social activism around democratization, peace, gender justice and unification issues, and have been recipients of scholarships and awards. Nineteen per cent of current graduate degree students at Emmanuel are Korean. “Professor Kim-Cragg leadership’s at Emmanuel and the time that she’s spent connecting with Korean theological schools has really raised Emmanuel’s profile in my country,” says Yoon.
At a recent Emmanuel College fundraising event in October to raise funds for scholarships for Korean students, Yoon had the opportunity to meet Korean Emmanuel alumni, some of whom grew up in Canada. “It was very empowering to learn about their work, their ministry, and the impact they are having in their communities,” she says. “As an international student it can be difficult to connect my Korean identity with my studies. Meeting alumni with similar experiences to mine really helped me to embrace that identity.”
As an international student, Yoon’s tuition costs are close to four times higher than Canadian students. The scholarship that she received from Emmanuel covers her tuition for her first four years and some living expenses; however, it is rare for a student to complete a PhD in only four years. “It can take international students even longer to complete their PhD because they must also navigate language and cultural obstacles,” says Yoon. “I am very excited that Emmanuel is fundraising to support student scholarships, including scholarships specifically for Korean students. Not only will it help advance important academic work, but it will also further cement an enduring relationship between Korea and Emmanuel College.”
Despite the financial challenges, Yoon has no regrets about choosing Emmanuel College. “I now have the best professors I’ve ever had in my life,” she says.
If you wish to support scholarships at Emmanuel College, or the Korean Scholarship Fund specifically, please contact Ruth-Ann MacIntyre, senior development officer at the Office of Alumni Affairs & Advancement at Victoria University, at email@example.com.