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Student of the Month: Jeeyoung Kim

Jeeyoung Kim (she/her/hers) I am a prospective Ph.D. student this fall, 2021, in the joint program of the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology. I am from South Korea and came to the U.S. to pursue my M.Div program at Candler School of Theology. As a CPE resident, I was in charge of the oncology and cancer center. By collaborating and communicating with peers, staff, and supervisors, I was able to provide my pastoral resources for their spiritual health. After working for non-profit organizations, I am currently living in Suwanee, Georgia, with my family.

Explain to what the PANAAWTM mentoring program is and how it helped you in your vocational goals.

I participated in online mentoring sessions last fall, 2020. Since I worked at hospitals and non-profit organizations for several years after graduating from the master’s program, I needed resources on how to prepare for my application. All mentors provided guidance on the overall requirements of application and friendly answered our questions. Their general and individual coaching gave me insight and courage in my preparation. I was moved by their commitment to raising future theological educators and by their empowerment to move us forward. I am grateful for their genuine mentorship. I highly recommend the mentoring program for seminarians who have academic interests and passion.

What are your interests in your field of study/work?

I am interested in developing practical theology in the studies of ritual and resilience. My research will include theological practices in understanding and interpreting the experience of healthcare workers’ moral injury and spiritual anguish. I am also interested in postcolonial and decolonial studies, feminist practical theology, and cultural and moral psychology. I hope to learn about intercultural and evidence-based spiritual care and integration.

Who has inspired you to want to do the work you want to do?

I have met admirable peers, mentors, and supervisors who inspired me to follow my interests and passion. Especially when I took a course of pastoral care and spirituality by Rev. Dr. Heesoon Kwon in South Korea, I was amazed by her teaching and pastoral theology. She motivated me to further study abroad. Under her guidance, I researched and created faith community-based pastoral programs to increase Korean women’s resilience. When I attended one of the PANAAWTM conferences several years ago, I listened to various war stories in Asia where their family members experienced. After reading a book, Soul Repair, by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini, I met with Dr. Rita Brock and shared my family story in relation to the Vietnam War. Through her work, I experienced the importance of truth-telling and solved my question that I had from my childhood. While reading her other book last year, her words about steadfast witnesses touched my heart, and it inspired me to pursue my doctoral study. I deeply appreciate their encouragement for my academic journey.

Show on netflix you have binged recently or a quarantine hobby you have picked up?

I recently enjoyed a Netflix family movie, Finding ’Ohana, with adventure and comedy. It was fun to watch two siblings taking an epic journey and finally leading them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage. During the quarantine, I made a small garden in my backyard with my family. I raised green onions, sesame leaves, rosemary, jalapeno, and avocado. I felt pure joy whenever watering them and sent my gratitude to the earth whenever using them to make foods.

What brings you hope?

After training at a trauma level II hospital, I was emotionally and physically drained. There is a small forest in my backyard, and I spent a lot of time sitting there looking at the sky, trees, and birds. The energy and beauty of nature healed my soul and body. I am hopeful when I see people caring for nature and the environment. As I imagine the PANAAWTM community, it brings me hope because the community is like a forest for me where I can grow healthy. I can gain the strength to thrive not only through their mutual work to resist all forms of injustice but also their stories to become my life-affirming resources.

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