Barbra Kim belonged to the inaugural cohort of students who were the first to benefit from Georgetown University's M.A. in Asian Studies (MASIA) program. Barbra currently works at the U.S. Department of State's Office of Korean Affairs as a Foreign Affairs Officer. Below is our short interview with Barbra:
1. Please tell us about yourself. What led to your interests in Asian studies?
I’ve always been interested in international relations. I majored in Political Science and minored in East Asian Languages and Civilizations for my undergraduate studies. As I neared my senior year, I realized that I’d best be able to merge my two backgrounds by experiencing living abroad and studying foreign policy from an East Asian perspective. I spent a year studying in Seoul on the Boren Scholarship, but felt that it wasn’t quite enough. I wanted to pursue a more focused graduate degree. I moved to Washington DC, spent a year at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Korea Chair while applying to graduate school, and when it came time to make my decision, it was a no brainer to choose the M.A. in Asian Studies program.
2. How did the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?
Through its gateway courses and mandatory career preparation requirements, the MASIA program equipped me with practical, relevant skills that continue to help me tackle new, steep learning curves with confidence. MASIA also offered flexibility in its curriculum, allowing me to build on my transcript/resume by taking specialized, functional coursework.
3. What specific skills and knowledge did you gain from Asian Studies courses at Georgetown?
I’ll never forget Professor Michael Green’s gateway course on Theory and Policy in Asia. I learned how to write succinctly for policymakers, a skill that is critical for a career in Washington. Additionally, as a 2012-2013 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow, I was able to focus and hone my Korean language skills, which has definitely been useful in my current job.
4. Where do you currently work?
I currently work as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the Office of Korean Affairs in the State Department.
5. What advice would you give to prospective/current students in the Asian Studies Program?
I’d recommend taking advantage of the entire Georgetown experience. Grades are important (no doubt about it!), but Georgetown also offers an incredible student body. I personally met a lot of great people by joining a few professional organizations on campus. I also strongly suggest taking a few courses in other departments. Most importantly, the MASIA support team is your greatest asset - go ahead and use it!