Kamiak grad’s new book helps students excel at STEM

  • Mon Jul 25th, 2016 9:59am
  • Life

Yoo Jung Kim co-authored a new book “What Every Science Student Should Know” that helps incoming college students excel in science.

Kim and her family moved from South Korea to Mukilteo in 1999. After graduating from Kamiak High School, she traded four seasons of rain for three seasons of snow by heading east to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. She then spent a year in Maryland conducting cancer research at the National Institutes of Health.

Kim is now a medical student at Stanford University in California. She plans to return to Washington state to practice medicine.

Talk about your book.

I did well in high school, but I struggled for the first two years of college. I started to doubt my own abilities. Fortunately, student and faculty mentors at Dartmouth helped me to overcome my academic slump. Yet many of my college and high school friends continued to struggle with their science classes. Some of them decided to drop their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors altogether. I could easily have been one of them.

With this in mind, my student mentors — Justin Bauer, Andrew Zureick, and Daniel Lee — and I decided to write a book that could serve as a mentor for any aspiring science student. We interviewed highly successful science students throughout the country to see what they were doing. From there we distilled our observations into useful tips.

One unexpected thing about the process was finding out that 40 percent of college students who go into college planning to major in STEM end up changing majors or dropping out.

How would this book have helped you as a student?

This book is the guide that I wish I had when I was a college student. It would have helped me with time management, doing well in classes, and having a balanced life as a busy science student.

Who was your biggest influence?

My biggest influences are my parents. They’ve worked hard to ensure their children would be able to lead a more comfortable life. Compared to what they’ve gone through, studying science and medicine is a cakewalk.

If you could have a glass of wine with anyone alive or in history, who would it be?

I would love to share a bottle of wine with Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, the author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book about the history of cancer, “The Emperor of all Maladies,” to pick his brain on his writing process.

What was your favorite thing about growing up in Mukilteo?

Mukilteo is an idyllic small town for kids to explore and to develop a sense of independence. I remember spending my afternoons at the library and walking across Lighthouse Beach. The schools are also amazing; I doubt that I would have made it this far without some of the amazing teachers and guidance counselors at Kamiak High School.

What are you wearing?

I’m wearing my college hoodie and khaki pants for maximum comfort.

What do you like to do for fun?

Every couple of weeks, my friends and I have a potluck to de-stress and to unpack our experiences in medical school.

What are three things in your fridge?

Lots of frozen dinner entrees from Trader Joe’s. Student life is tough.

Fill in the blank: People would be shocked to know …

I have several B and B-minuses on my college transcript from freshman and sophomore year, which I turned into As by junior and senior year. I want students — especially those who are struggling right now — to know that they can always improve themselves.

What’s your most proud moment?

When I received my first medical school acceptance. It was exciting to finally know that despite the past hurdles, I was going to be a doctor!

What is your pet peeve?

When people mistake me for a high school — or even middle school — student. This has happened more often now that I visit high schools to talk about our book.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Eating instant noodles during finals week. Old habits die hard.

— Andrea Brown, Herald staff

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