Yeonju is a proud Korean who was born in England and grew up in India and Thailand. As a member of an expatriate family living in India and Thailand – countries that are still considered developing countries – Yeonju experienced firsthand the lifelong impact of the privilege of birth and ensuing access to opportunities.
Driven by a desire to contribute to systemic change, Yeonju came to the United States to attend Cornell University where she sought to deepen her understanding of societal conditions that contribute to injustice. Unsure where or how to apply her knowledge, she successfully applied to be a high school math tutor at Bogan Technical High School in the Southwest side of Chicago. It is through her experience in the classroom watching students struggle with uncertainties in their lives that she came to reflect on her role as someone who is not from the communities she wants to serve. Through reflection and self-education – with the help of a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago – Yeonju began to realize her potential in capacity building roles at organizations like Educators for Excellence that are working to create sustainable, systemic change.
Yeonju is grateful to be able to contribute to the sustainability of organizations like E4E that activate people who know and have a stake in their community - like teachers - to do their work without getting held back.