By STEPHEN O’KANE, Staff Writer | Published May 14, 2009
Jin Kim, a senior at Pinecrest Academy, has lived in Korea, Japan and the United States, and now he is proud to call Pinecrest home as well.
The young man spent most of his life in Korea, where he grew up, before moving to Japan with his family for three years because of his father’s job.
“After that, I decided to come to the U.S. and I found this exchange program,” he said.
Son of Seag Tae and Ki Suk Yun, who still reside in Korea, Jin came to the United States on his own in search of new experiences and an opportunity to receive a strong education.
He went to a public school in Ohio when he first came to the states. While he had a very positive experience there, he was interested in attending a private school and found Pinecrest among his list of options.
Jin enrolled, and as he started to become more and more involved at the school in Cumming, he noticed a difference from the public school.
“I’m not sure how to describe it but … it feels more like family and united,” he said.
The sense of community at Pinecrest helped Jin feel like he had found a home away from home. And, in many ways, he did. Now living with Mike and Mary Drapeau, a couple whose own children attend Pinecrest, Jin has been welcomed as a member of the family and as a Pinecrest Paladin.
“He has contributed to our school in Senate and football and is well liked and integrated,” said Beth Howard, dean of academics at Pinecrest.
Jin is already thinking about what to do after he graduates. He plans to participate in the Coworker Program with the Legionaries of Christ, in which he will give one year of service to the church. One of the Drapeau children participated in the program and told Jin about his “amazing experience.”
He plans to attend college after his year of service and is interested in studying international business and traveling. As a speaker of four languages—Korean, Japanese, English and Spanish—he will bring an unusual set of skills to any academic environment.
Jin was not Catholic when he came to Pinecrest but was welcomed into the church this year after completing the RCIA program. He was baptized at St. Benedict Church, Duluth, where his host family worships. Kevin Panas, a teacher at Pinecrest, was his first religion teacher and introduced him to Catholicism.
“I wasn’t a Catholic at the beginning,” he said. “(Mr. Panas) never forced you to be Catholic … and I gradually learned stuff from him.”
For the last year and a half, Jin has been learning and studying Catholicism through RCIA. Panas ended up serving as Jin’s sponsor for confirmation and was also named his godfather for his baptism.
“These past three years were amazing,” Jin said about his experience at Pinecrest.
He even has some advice for upcoming freshman.
“Middle school and high school are really different. You have to participate in many activities … and academically you have to try harder,” he said. “As long as you try your best, I think you’ll be fine.”