Bio: Jeeyoon Kim grew up “in-between” in her biracial identity and in the crossroads of three differing hometowns. She has spent the past seven years working with youth programs and is drawn to this work because these spaces encourage and allow young people to explore their identities, experiences, and the “in-between”. Currently, Jeeyoon works at Emerson as the Assistant Director for Youth Development in the Elma Lewis Center and Social Justice Center.
She is currently completing her MA in Digital Marketing & Data Analytics and is an alum of Emerson (BS Print & Multimedia Journalism ’13), the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, and the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship. Jeeyoon is happiest with a full concert calendar and at home with her partner and pup.
What are the things that drive or motivate you the most in your work?
“The central piece of my work is supporting youth in their personal, political, and creative development and identities – so I’m really driven by my students, past and present. I have a really unique opportunity and privilege to hold space and create opportunities for youth across Boston to connect with each other and develop really meaningful relationships and experiences together.
Many of our students come to our programs saying in their interviews that they are looking for someplace to “find their people” – while this means different things to each student, we have heard from many of our students that our programs did just that. They leave our programs saying that they formed important friendships in our programs and that our spaces allowed them to grapple with social justice issues in ways that home or school just couldn’t. After-school settings have such a unique opportunity to be a “third space” in a young person’s life in that way.
I’m really driven to provide those spaces for students to land because I was seeking those same things and asking those same questions when I was growing up.”
“Self-care” was a HUGE buzzword for 2020, especially for those that were disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, many of whom were women. What do you think self-care will mean for you in 2021?
“The two biggest practices I am working on right now and hope to carry through the rest of 2021 are to have a regular creative practice and to hold firm and clear boundaries. These are two ways I can really show up for myself and I see them both as really healthy behaviors.
The first piece around having a regular creative practice is really about cultivating joy and checking in with myself. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been tapping back into visual art, specifically with painting which has been really fun. I’ve been artistic and creative since I was very young and come from a very artistic family which is a huge gift. My current practice was really inspired by a friend who paints daily mediation squares. The practice allows me to really approach each blank page as an invitation to see how I feel that day. It’s a very organic process that I leave feeling gratitude and like I understand myself a little bit more. Since I’ve been accumulating quite a few pieces as the months continue, I’ve started to mail pieces out to friends as little love notes out in the world so now the practice is both an act of caring for myself and others.
For the second practice on boundary setting, this one has been a work in progress so I am excited to keep improving in my practice. You are allowed to set healthy boundaries and you deserve to have those boundaries respected. Your needs, experiences, and reasons for wanting to establish those boundaries are valid.”
We have a Madam VP now! Do we still need Women’s History Month?!
There is so much content out there. What career advice for women have you heard/read/listened to that you really valued?
“A few things come to mind right away that really can be encapsulated into a theme of being unapologetically yourself. To some people that might sound vague and to others it might bring to mind some very specific items. I would ask anyone looking for advice what being unapologetically themselves means to them and let that serve as the guiding through line.
This is the same advice I’m giving myself as I continue to carve out my career path. If I meet a new connection or seek out a new opportunity, I want to head into that experience hopefully as a very authentic version of myself. I have to believe that the right people and the right opportunities will recognize and value what I bring and who I am.”
What role did Emerson play in preparing you for your career?
“As both a soon to be double alum, having earned my BS in 2013 and my upcoming MA this spring for 2021, and now as a full-time staff member, this question has so many answers! Emerson has both supported me and challenged me in equal parts. While I’ve met some of my most cherished friends and mentors here, I’ve also had many challenging experiences as a low-income, first-generation, student of color and as a young woman of color staff member.
All of those experiences have shaped me and I am so grateful for the relationships and pockets of people here who have played roles in supporting me and showing up for me along the way. I know I’ll be continuing to look for those same types of relationships and spaces as I continue in my career and I hope to do the same for others around me.”