An Irrepressible Global Do-Gooder
Through a childhood of migration, repression and exile, Evgeniya Kim found the elements that would shape her outlook on life.
She was born in Uzbekistan, where Russian was her first language. There, Kim says her family adjusted as an ethnic minority even as they struggled to retain their cultural values.
"Koreans are a tiny minority in Uzbekistan, so it was important to hold on to my Korean heritage even though we did not even speak Korean," Kim said. "When you are a minority - racially, ethnically, religiously as was the case with my family - it is easy to become marginalized, especially when the country is poor and corruption is commonplace. My father had to work really hard as a farmer to provide for our family and my mother stayed at home even though both of them had engineering degrees."
At the age of 14, Kim and her family immigrated to the United States, where they were granted asylum. After graduating from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens in 2006, Kim enrolled at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College and majored in international relations (’10).
"What I loved the most [about Macaulay] is the diversity of the student body that made me feel right at home, especially because of my own unique background," she said.
Kim, 27, is one of four CUNY women awarded a 2015 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. As a fellow, Kim will receive up to $90,000 for graduate studies at the Yale School of Management where she is currently pursuing her MBA.
In Uzbekistan, Kim's Korean heritage and Russian upbringing often brought uncomfortable questions from classmates. Yet, she found solace on the tennis court as a member of Uzbekistan's national junior tennis team and bonded with players she met during international tournaments.
"When I was just a kid, playing tennis internationally, I started traveling around Central Asia and had my first big tournaments in India and Indonesia. That’s when I met so many players from all around the world and fell in love with the international experience," she said.
While at Macaulay, Kim continued to expand on her global perspective. She studied abroad in Greece and also interned at the Open Society to address human rights issues in Uzbekistan. Through volunteer work with a non-profit organization, she also traveled to Thailand, Russia, Korea and Switzerland. She recently came back from an MBA trip to South Africa.
Combining her love of international development and business, Kim began working at the Soros Economic Development Fund, analyzing the impact of the fund's investments on 21.4 million people across 20 countries. As a future career, Kim hopes to become a consultant for organizations that have a similar global impact.
"I loved how diverse our projects were," Kim said. "From a financial services project in Mexico, agriculture deal in Ghana to a hospital in India and a port in Tanzania, I felt that our work reached those that were most in need."