Growing up with Mason Korea

Hanna Yoon's successful undergrad journey

Growing up with Mason Korea

“I grew up with the school and got admitted to an international business school”

Hanna Hyerin Yoon, Global Affairs major

Hanna Hyerin Yoon (26) enrolled in the global affairs program when George Mason University Korea opened its doors in March 2014. Hanna grew as she watched the school grow before her eyes. Hanna graduated in spring 2019 and enrolled as a scholarship recipient at the first and top global business school in the US, the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Her admittance to the Master of Global Management (MGM) program, which requires proving one’s academic and practical excellence, acknowledges George Mason University Korea's curriculum and operational performance. We met Hanna who says that she wouldn’t be who she is today without the University and is thankful for all the opportunities she has had.

Reporter: Hee Sung Song
Photo courtesy of George Mason University Korea


Opportunities gained at George Mason University Korea

Hanna is currently in Phoenix, Arizona in the US. She will be attending the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University starting September and is already bombarded with assignments before school officially starts.

Thunderbird's Master of Global Management degree ranked No. 1 in the Master in Management category in the Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal 2019 Business Schools Report. Founded in 1946 after World War II, it is the first US graduate school of global management. In 2014, it merged with Arizona State University, which has been recognized as the most innovative university in the US. Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management (MGM) program not only includes the typical subjects covered by MBA programs, such as marketing, accounting, finance, etc., but also fosters global business capabilities by teaching cross-cultural communication and negotiations, global management strategies, and social responsibility. The program has the reputation of producing future executives of multinational companies by providing global practice and field-oriented education. The Economist has also ranked the school No. 1 with regard to its alumni network.

Hanna was admitted to Thunderbird on a scholarship. "The scholarship from Thunderbird's alumni association and the scholarship from Korea cover almost all of my tuition. I also received a scholarship while attending Mason Korea and was able to take a load off my parents’ shoulders. This is all thanks to the education I received at Mason Korea and the people I met there.”

Various experiences gained: Internships to events at international organizations

Hanna accumulated most of the experience necessary to apply to a global business school through Mason Korea. She received a lot of information and help from the University's Career Development Center regarding internships and major events at international organizations. While working as an intern at a rehabilitation center affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center, Hanna realized the importance of mental health and developed a passion for influencing the global medical industry. While interning at the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Songdo, she realized the importance of environmentally sustainable growth and sought ways to make a personal impact. She was selected to participate in a broadcasting training program for students, where she received extensive training before assisting the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS). She also participated in an OECD world forum and North Korean refugee education, where she first-handedly experienced the global issues she learned about as a global affairs student. The diverse work experience she gained as an undergrad provided a strong foundation when she applied to Thunderbird.

"The director of the school's career development center was a huge help. He helped me get the big picture like figuring out my career path and thoroughly looked over my English resumes for international organizations. Getting help from someone with a lot of experience when you don't know where to start is invaluable. It was also really great that there are several international organizations including UN offices in Songdo, where the school is located.”

Hanna Yoon

Studying at the Fairfax campus, the center of politics and diplomacy

The chance to study at the Fairfax campus in Virginia was a major factor for Hanna’s choice of university. George Mason University Korea follows the same curriculum as the US campus and it is mandatory for students to study at the Fairfax campus in their 6th-7th or 7th-8th semesters. Students who complete their 8th semester at the Fairfax campus can enroll in graduate school or find employment in the US right away. Hanna spent the second half of her sophomore year to the second half of her junior year at the Fairfax campus.

“It took 20 minutes from the school to Washington, D.C. by car. As a global affairs student, I soaked up every learning opportunity while being in such close proximity to the US capital, the center of politics, diplomacy, and national defense. I was there during the presidential elections and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the democratic candidates, came to speak at the Fairfax campus. I can't forget the energy of the campaign rally.”

Hanna minored in psychology, which she was interested in since high school, and studied the subject in Fairfax. Her studies led to an internship at a rehabilitation center at the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center related to helping patients with mental illness reintegrate into society.

“The Fairfax campus offers more courses than the Korea campus, so there's a diverse range of subjects you can study. You also meet diverse people. Mason Korea mostly has students in their early 20s, but the Fairfax campus has such diverse people, from their ages to their backgrounds and interests. So there's so much to see, hear, and learn. I got to learn why harmony and exchange within the frame of diversity are important and how that works.”


The place where I learned everything I need to know

Hanna was able to study at the Fairfax campus without any problems thanks to her solid studying under the same curriculum at Mason Korea. Although she spent her elementary through high school years in the US, she learned how to properly write reports and essays at Mason Korea.

"There weren't that many students in my program, so I was able to form deep relationships with my professors. There are different types of students too. Some foreign students came to Korea because they like k-pop, which made me feel proud about our cultural arts. I realized that culture is an important motivator that makes you go out of your immediate surroundings and explore new things instead of being complacent. The Korean students also come from various backgrounds including domestic high schools, overseas high schools, foreign schools, etc. As a Korean who received a global education in Incheon, I have experienced the world in Korea. The faculty and staff also have diverse experiences. That’s how I got to meet my mentor who became a life saver.”

Hanna applied to Thunderbird upon the recommendation of Gbemi Disu, Chief Business Officer at George Mason University Korea, who is also a graduate of Thunderbird. Hanna often heard about the school over the years, which is why she didn’t hesitate to apply in her senior year. As a mentor, Gbemi listened closely to Hanna and always supported her, instilling confidence in her and teaching her about the qualities that global women leaders need. "If it weren't for the school, I don't think I would've been able to meet such a great mentor. I think it was because Gbemi was by side that I got accepted to Thunderbird and received a scholarship. I also received a lot of help from my professors, the staff, and my friends.”

Hanna was the student speaker at the spring 2019 graduation. Below is an extract from her speech.

"I enrolled at George Mason University Korea in the Spring of 2014. I grew up with the school as I watched numerous developments unfold at the school. I was amazed and proud to see new areas that students could participate in at the start of every semester. If I had just enrolled now in 2019, things would have been different. There's more that students can enjoy now, but opportunities are given to those who make them. We've expanded our perspective on the world as we journeyed with the school on all its new steps forward. As I grew with Mason Korea, I've been reborn into who I am now.”

Click the link to read the full article in Korean on Naeil Education.