This type of situation, where students change for the better, is precisely the moment Kang Yoon (’86, Clothing & Textiles) finds most rewarding and worthwhile. Once a stay-at-home mom taking care of her husband and two sons, Kang is now living her second life as a psychology counselor mostly for university students. Kang began her new life style after pondering deeply about getting ready for her later life.
“My kids are all grown up now and do not need their mom anymore,” Kang said. “So I wanted to get prepared for my own future and actually do something.”
As for choosing what to do, Kang contemplated between doing what she wanted and doing what she could do. She had originally thought about working in the field of interior design, but it required too much late night work and was physically demanding. Therefore, she decided to go for something doable and got started on psychology counseling, as age is not a problem in the field and it does not require much physical stamina.
Although Kang’s process in choosing her career was somewhat compromised, counseling turned out to be what she had wanted to do after all. Back in her college days, Kang had taken many classes related to children and psychology. She had also dreamed of being a pediatrician or a teacher.
“The keyword for what I always wanted to do was ‘care,’” Kang said.
In 2005, Kang began to attend a counseling course in a graduate school in the United States. After returning to Korea, she continued doing various volunteer work and counseling programs. In 2008, Kang succeeded in receiving admission to a graduate school in Korea as a counseling psychology major. Kang’s passion for psychology counseling had helped her immensely in getting admitted to graduate school at a late age.
Kang has been focusing on consulting university students for six years. According to Kang, there are three main problems students discuss: future course, personal relations and sexual harassment on campus. Sometimes students would come in under the pretext of an aptitude test or academic advice, but end up talking more about their personal problems such as depression or relationship issues.
For suffering students, Kang first listens closely to their troubles. After listening to the counselees’ matters, Kang advises ways to deal with their problems.
“Some students don’t have anyone to talk to about their deepest thoughts. I want to make sure that they feel they are heard and help them let it all out,” Kang said. “Everyone has answers inside them. I simply help students realize the answers so that they can eventually handle their problems on their own.”
Kang says she likes counseling university students because they are smart and insightful.
“University students tend to struggle to find the answers to their problems by themselves,” Kang said. “Also, there is so much I can do for these young adults.”
However, Kang sometimes feels frustrated and uneasy when she deals with students in extreme situations. Not long ago, there was one suicidal student whose case was so dire that Kang had to resort to contacting the parents. The student’s parents disregarded Kang’s earnest worry and the student’s condition became worse after the incident.
“Encountering such cases breaks my heart,” Kang said. “I try to lift up their spirits as much as I can and give them hope.”
Kang offers words of advice for university students regarding their future.
“Many people stress dreaming these days, but vague thoughts can easily turn into mere delusions,” Kang warned. “Students should reach for realistic goals and try to materialize their dream. After all, experience and getting to know certain fields are crucial for their future careers.”
In fact, one student dreamed of a life dedicated to volunteer work. However, after an internship at a non-governmental organization, the student realized the field was actually comprised of administrative work and political fights for money.
Kang thinks experience outside the campus is especially important for Ewha students.
“A women’s university has its own traits and atmosphere and therefore can be limited in terms of social interaction,” Kang said. “Ewha students should overcome these limitations through various experiences, and check out the situations of the world outside the campus.”
Kang plans to continue her psychology counseling with university students. She will also expand her range of counseling to ordinary people.