A Key to Their Future
“We were poor, we were proud and we had dreams.”
That is how Dr. Charlie Jung Huh, an orthopedic surgeon, recalls his days as a student at Yonsei University. When he and his classmates began their studies, South Korea was still experiencing harsh deprivation in the aftermath of the Korean conflict. Still, the Yonsei Class of 1962 counted its blessings. “We were among those lucky to have survived the war,” Dr. Huh reflects. “We had living parents and homes – though some of us lived in shanties – and we had the opportunity to get a good education.”
They knew Yonsei was a key to their future. “We felt proud and privileged because Yonsei had dedicated, excellent professors,” he says. “We had dreams and were not discouraged, even though some of us wore army khaki that had been dyed black or skipped lunches once in a while. Some of us worked as live-in tutors, so we couldn’t open our own books before 10 p.m.”
Dr. Huh describes his classmates as “confident we could contribute to society.” That spirit was still apparent years later, when he was living in the United States and his daughter was applying to college. Amazed to see all the class scholarships listed in the brochures of major American universities, he was inspired to contact his classmates in 1993 about establishing the Class of 1962 Yonsei Scholarship Fund. “Yonsei made us what we are now. We wanted to make even one student be able to concentrate on his study and not worry about tuition costs like we did.” Through their generosity, one medical student has received a full tuition scholarship ($11,000 for 2012) each year since 1994.
He and his classmates attended their 50th class reunion in 2012 and received recognition for their generosity. The school honored them with a citation and plaque and, most importantly, some of the past Class of 1962 Scholarship recipients were there to express their appreciation.
The United Board administers this scholarship fund on behalf of the Yonsei Class of 1962. Working with United Board staff has made Dr. Huh realize that “the United Board is not simply an institution but a close friend.”
(First published in Horizons in November 2012)