What Being an Alumna Means to Me...
The four years I spent at Manhattanville have had an enormous impact on my life and my career. Having grown up in Korea during the Japanese Occupation, World War II, and the Korean War, arriving at Manhattanville was like arriving in a completely new world of peace, opportunity, and hope. Sister Brady and the other nuns who taught and mentored me were so loving and supportive that I felt an immediate sense of family at Manhattanville. The Manhattanville community provided a safe and strong center for me from which to explore my interests and passions with the confidence and conviction that I could accomplish any of my dreams -- no matter the obstacles. In particular, Manhattanville instilled in us the sense of duty that we should always seek to enlighten others.
Over the years, I found different ways to pursue that goal of seeking and sharing enlightenment. Immediately after college, I began to teach students in New York City. In doing so, I discovered that very few people knew the true history of Korea. Drawing on the courage of conviction I had learned at Manhattanville, I decided to write my first novel, Year of Impossible Goodbyes, telling my story of growing up in Japanese-occupied Korea. Encouraged and inspired by my Manhattanville professors, I felt obligated to share my knowledge and experiences growing up in Korea, and ultimately wrote six books about Korean history and culture and about the Korean-American immigrant experience. I am extremely grateful to Manhattanville for providing me the support and confidence to pursue my dreams and for instilling in me such a strong commitment to education.
On a personal note, the Sacred Heart community has been an important, ongoing part of my life and my family's life over three generations. Even before I attended Manhattanville, I was welcomed into the Sacred Heart community in Seoul, Korea when I taught Korean to the Sacred Heart nuns. After college, I was a teacher at Sacred Heart in New York City for many years. Each of my daughters, Kathleen and Audrey, attended 91st Street, Sacred Heart, from Kindergarten through 12th grade and graduated as their class valedictorians. And now, one of my granddaughters is at Sacred Heart, New York City, and will be a first grader in September, 2010.
Sook Nyul Choi (nee Imelda S. Park - Class of '62) is an author, lecturer, and educator. She has written three historic novels for young adults. This trilogy -- Year of Impossible Goodbyes, Echoes of the White Giraffe, Gathering of Pearls -- tells the story of a young girl growing up in Korea during the Japanese Occupation, World War II, and the Korean War. She has also written three children's books about multicultural issues -- Halmoni and the Picnic, Yunmi and Halmoni's Trip, The Best Older Sister.
Her books have received numerous honors and awards, including the Best Books for Young Adults Award by the American Library Association, also by the Young Adult Library Service Association, and the Literary Lights for Children Award from the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and the Judy Lopez Award from the Women's National Book Association.
Her books are on many state Book Award Master Reading Lists and in many reading anthologies and text books. They have been featured on television reading programs, such as Reading Rainbow, PBS Adult Learning Satellite Service, and Interactive School Television. The College Board selected Year of Impossible Goodbyes for inclusion in its new edition of Laying the Foundation, a series of manuals for English for Advanced Placement students. Some of her books have been translated into French, Italian, Korean, Japanese, and Spanish, as well as released as books-on-tapes and in Braille. She is a noted lecturer on creative writing and education and a Fulbright scholar. And she is a spotlight author of Harvard University's Graduate School of Education for its FINE program- (Family Involvement Network of Educators).