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Meet the Grad: Subin Kim, Army Reservist and Jack Kent Cooke Semifinalist

Meet the Grad: Subin Kim, Army Reservist and Jack Kent Cooke Semifinalist

Every student at NOVA brings a different story, and a different perspective on student success and achievement. Commencement brings to life their accomplishments.

Subin Kim, originally from South Korea, served six years of active duty in the Army and attends NOVA as a reservist. He looks forward to graduating and feels like this is the beginning of a new chapter of his life after years of hard work. Kim, thanking his professors, notes the diversity of opportunity that NOVA provided.

Kim always said he would be in the technology field, and the institution is proud of this #NOVANighthawk as he graduates at the 2022 Spring Commencement and shares his story. After graduation, Subin will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:

I was born in Korea, and I had lived in South Korea until I graduated elementary school. More or less, it is the culture I was most accustomed to. Korean is my first language and I still speak it to my parents

After elementary school, I went with my mom and brother to Malaysia and studied at a private school. The curriculum was a little different from the Korean curriculum. The main language in the Malaysian educational structure in early childhood education was a mix of Chinese and English.

I moved with my family to California in the spring of 2009. I eventually went to high school in California and that was my first introduction to the American culture. After graduating, I initially wanted to go to college off the bat and got into Cal Poly Pomona. However, in the middle of that process, I received a phone call from an Army recruiter. So, I made what I thought was the best choice for my future, which was to join the Army. It opened many doors and opportunities for me as a foreign student because I was able to become naturalized after my basic training. My job in the Army was logistics, and I currently am still a member of the reserves.

So, I served on active-duty for five to six years. I then met my wife through my Army friends when we were both on active duty. So yes, I married another service member.

We relocated to Virginia in 2020. I started at NOVA in the Fall semester after COVID hit.

What brought you to NOVA?

One of my brother’s friends that I grew up with from Korea settled here in the Northern Virginia region. He told me a lot about the area. I would often visit him when I was stationed in New York. I was familiar with the area as I had previously visited about four to five times.

The other thing that drew me to NOVA was because my wife is from around here, too. I wanted to be somewhere new and to focus on my education without going back to California. Conveniently, Virginia was it for me.

What are you studying or plan to study at NOVA?

I am studying computer science here at NOVA. So, I would say that the biggest influence in my life is my father, since he’s been in the IT industry for a couple of decades now. Even when my brother, my mom and I went from overseas to the states, he stayed in Korea the whole time.

For my siblings and me growing up in Korea and before we moved, he was always asking mind intriguing questions. He would ask me things like ‘What do you think you could offer to the world?’ ‘What do you think about when computers take over? In a roundabout way, I opened my mind to the world of computers before I even realized it. It has always been something I wanted to pursue academically.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA; i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.

I’ve had pleasant interactions with most professors here at the college. Both Dr. Pomeroy and Corri Sullivan, the transfer advisors, have been so helpful explaining the differences between JKCF and different opportunities available.

Some of my professors that I interacted with–Dr. Alexander, Dr. Harland, Dr. Chou, Professor Chamathi, Dr. Kansal–they were all super helpful. Their way of teaching helped me understand materials better. They all have such different and great approaches to helping students learn. Their varying teaching methods apart from the materials show that they really care for students. Whenever I reached out to them, they were helpful. My recommendation letters came from them.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?

At NOVA, you can have diverse opportunities to explore different topics. And you have so many more opportunities here that you wouldn’t be able to experience anywhere else. It is beneficial for incoming students to know about what NOVA can offer them and help them grow their intellectual curiosity.

How to do you feel about being a Jack Kent Cooke semifinalist? I am grateful to have been given the recommendation to the Jack Kent Cook Scholarship Foundation and to embark on my graduation. It’s basically seeing the results of how hard I’ve worked academically over the last couple of years. It puts me at the edge of my seat, and I am always looking to grow more.

How do you feel about graduating from NOVA?

I feel nervous because it feels like I am at the start of a new chapter in life. I just went through the first few years of college, but I know that I want to pursue higher education through to my bachelors. Even after I find an opportunity, I would continue education whether its technical education or business and industry certifications.

I think graduating here marks a steppingstone. It’s just the beginning. I am nervous and a little bit afraid, but I think I can look forward now. I think my experience here at NOVA would affect me positively in the future.

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?

I will be attending the Massachusetts institute of Technology to study Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making. I am so excited. 

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.