Jiyoon Park seeks a future in politics from Topeka to Capitol Hill

Jiyoon Park, a second-year Jayhawk, grew up in Topeka, just miles away from the state capitol building. Lawrence has always felt like a second home to him, since his mom teaches here, and he has always been around. Now triple-majoring in Political Science, Global & International Studies, and Environmental Studies, Park looks forward to a future in politics, including working in areas of lobbying and national security.

Why did you choose your majors? And how do they complement each other? Was there a moment when you decided this was what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?

I have always been interested in politics, international current events, climate change, etc., so my majors all just fell into place. I think near the end of high school I really enjoyed my classes that centered on liberal arts and environmental topics. They all complement each other well because they are interdisciplinary topics that intersect with each other. Political science overlaps a lot with my international studies classes, and the environment has inroads to nearly every scholarly discussion. Additionally, KU has one of the best policy debate teams in the country, so I’ve continued my debate career here and found relative success.

What is the most exciting part of your majors and minor? What do you think is most valuable about your experiences in these programs?

The most exciting part is meeting with so many great professors. The liberal arts professors all care deeply about their students and are not only good at teaching but interacting with students. Many of them have wonderful stories and anecdotes about discussion topics or their personal experiences in politics and the environment.

What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts, and humanities?

I think KU’s community of students brings in a lot of diverse opinions. Every class is always filled with dozens of students with different opinions and ideas, which I think really shines in the humanities. This is furthered by professors fostering said discussion and providing ample inter- and intra-classroom activities. 

Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or any other learning experiences you’d like to share? If so, what was that like?

I am currently an intern at a law firm in Bonner Springs and have interviews with places in Washington D.C. for this coming summer. I think the biggest learning experience and piece of advice is to build your network. Getting to know as many people as possible and finding connections can help you build future bridges. Connections can help you meet people and can guide you when you’re uncertain about your next step, which is how I found my opportunities. Another way to build these connections is to take part in clubs or activities to meet new people. Debate has found me dozens of lifelong friends and mentors, but other activities have an equal chance of doing so for others. 

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you

The person that has probably helped me the most is Dr. Bricker. He is a professor in the COMS program and the assistant director of debate. He was one of the main reasons I came to KU and has played a huge part in my growth and development as a debater, student, and person. Dr. Bricker has driven me to be a more motivated, empathetic, and hard-working scholar both in and out of debate.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I haven’t decided on a definitive pathway yet, but it will be one of two options: go directly to law school or find a job in D.C. This could be in lobbying, national security, Capitol Hill, a think tank, or the State Department.