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PHD Autobiographical Sketch, Marriage Diversity

July 26, 2015


I am a young Korean woman educated in Japan who now lives in America and wants very much to excel in the area of psychology. I have fallen in love with California and hope to complete my graduate studies here. Since I majored in “Cultural Properties” or issues in Japan, I particularly enjoy studying the complex relationships, at once psychological and historical, that exist among various different Asian groups here in California. The greatest strength of my application to your program is that I am one of few Korean applicants who are fully fluent in Japanese as well as Korean, helping me to bridge one of the most prominent and historically bitter divides in Asia resulting from Japan’s historic occupation of your country.

I feel strongly that much of what I studied in Japan has immediate and profound relevance to the study of psychology, especially the psychology of cultural differences, barriers, and/or conflicts, particularly those that involve language. The XXXX is my first choice for graduate study because I feel that I am the best fit for your particular program. I deeply respect your commitment to seeing mental health and mental illness in socio-cultural contexts and your hearty endorsement of research and intervention that is relevant to the multiple cultures in which they are conducted. 

My application is further strengthened by my service as a Volunteer Peer Mentor at the XXXX, in XXXX , Japan (July 2008 - October 2009). I helped newly arrived international students to adjust to their new environment helping them to meet people and to learn to interact with people from many different countries all at the same time. In fact, I advised resident students on a broad range of issues, personal as well as academic, as well as helping to organize and implement international cultural exchange and recreation programs and events. I believe that this experience will help me to think creatively about the many multicultural issues facing Asian residents of California as well.

My passionate interest in psychology began during my high school days as a result of my own mental health challenges. Even though I had good grades in my classes, I began to suffer from chronic depression. It is very common in Korea for adolescents to suffer from mental illnesses due to the great amount of academic pressure that is piled upon them in a very competitive educational system. Students in Korea are often made to attend classes from 7am to 10pm, as I did, going to private schools at night. Surveys have shown that most Korean high school students sleep only 4 to 5 hours a night.

I went through a very difficult period in high school where I felt that I had lost my goals in  life and I suffered from low self-esteem. At times, I even felt that life was meaningless since we would all just die anyway. I even had thoughts about suicide. (As in Japan, our suicide rate for adolescents under pressure is alarmingly high.) Thankfully my mother convinced me to see a psychiatrist and soon I was undergoing treatment, counseling and art therapy, for my depressive disorder. At that time, I began to learn to look inside myself, observing my feelings and behavior with new, more critical eyes. Soon, I recovered from my depression as a result of intensive and highly successful treatment. My extremely positive experience in recovery set me on a road to pursuing a career in psychology.

I had a wonderful psychologist by the name of Dr. XXXX who changed my life completely for the better, helping me to see things in a much more positive light and to learn to monitor and control my feelings. I was able to see things much differently. Dr. XXXX helped me to control my feelings through reflection, critical thinking, and discipline. I began reading extensively in the area of psychology in my free time and by the time I was ready to begin college I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the area of mental health and dedicate my life to the cultivation of new ways to see the world in a more positive light through psychological discovery.

About the same time that my interest in psychology took off, my mother also began to study psychology, coinciding with her volunteer work as a counselor at a high school guiding juvenile delinquents. She told me many stories about her work that also served to deepen my interest in the power of counseling. I became immediately apparent to my mother and I both that many of these troubled juveniles were suffering from mental illnesses as a result of some type of trauma or abuse, often at the hands of their parents.

I chose to major in Cultural Properties in Japan because of my fascination with culture and the impact that it has on our psychology. I spent four years on this intriguingIsland taking courses mostly concerning ‘Cultural Heritage Conservation Science’ at XXXX University, located in Kyushu.  I learned a great deal about cultural restoration, in particular, and componential analyses of heritage. Studying culture was especially useful to me since I also served as a Counselor at the XXXX House as well, facing so many cultural issues in a fully international context.

.After my graduation, I returned to Korea and began working for a trading company. Soon, I faced another serious challenge to my mental health as I was shocked to experience a panic attack in a subway station which left me with the after effect of feeling scared when using overcrowded subways or buses, which are unavoidable in Korea. I plunged into a full immersion in the literature about panic disorders and this has helped me to become much stronger. Now, here in America, I feel I am at the optimal moment in my intellectual and emotional maturity to study in your distinguished program.

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