Patrick Cao, Editor-in-Chief
On Jan. 28, the Asian Heritage Committee hosted “Life After Bergen” where former Bergen alumni were invited to talk about their former years at Bergen Community College and what they’ve experienced afterward in both their personal and professional lives. The event was held in room C-313 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and moderated by Professor Alexander Chan.
Invited by psychology professor and lead advisor of the Korean Student Association, Dr. Mina Ahn, four former Bergen alumni and former executive board members of the mentioned organization were invited to the event: Jake Oh, Vivian Huh, Flora Chang and Jerel Jhocson.
When talking about the importance of the event, Ahn commented, “It is important to connect our previous students with our current students here at Bergen by sharing their experiences and to promote student activities/resources.”
To start off the event, Professor Chan began by asking each panelist to share the reason why they decided to attend BCC and what were some of their experiences.
Huh, who immigrated from South Korea, answered that she attended the school since it seemed rational to go to a smaller two-year school as opposed to a larger four-year school since she was still learning English.
While Chang agreed with her, she added that she also learned to accept people from a variety of different backgrounds. Chang noted that this was possible due to how she felt Bergen was a widely diverse and welcoming college.
In fact, when asked if any of the panelists had experienced any hostility or isolation from anyone at the college, Oh stated that he “never felt different at BCC.” All the panelists agreed.
However, Jhocson discussed a major challenge he encountered that didn’t necessarily involve BCC: the model minority. Jhocson explained the “model minority” as this constant feeling of self-doubt since in his case, he felt as he had to fulfill the Asian stereotype of excessive hard work and phenomenal academic accolades. He states that while he doesn’t regret his time at BCC, he admits that he could have completed his goals in a healthier way that didn’t make him constantly question himself.
Meanwhile, when asked if any BCC-provided services had helped the panelists reach their goals, Chang spoke up, saying that the college’s academic counselors were a tremendous aid. She discussed how when she initially started college, she wanted to become a pharmacist, but as time went on and the more she was exposed to that line of work, she realized that industry was not meant for her.
Confused and unsure of what to do, Chang decided to talk with an academic counselor who, after some discussions, suggested she take business and financial-related courses. Realizing this was her passion, she continued to take these courses, before moving on to complete her bachelor’s degree at Baruch College and eventually becoming a tax accountant for Turner Construction Company.
Towards the end of the panel, the panelists were asked to discuss the challenges in their current careers.
One notable mention was by Oh, who discussed the challenges of being a social worker. He explained that in his field, one of the most challenging and disturbing things he encounters is children who have been sexually or physically assaulted.
He said, “Imagine. You’re standing in front of this child, looking them in the eye and seeing their pain. They’ve been through so much but my job is to make them feel safe and maintain my composure.”
The panel ended with professor and committee member, Dr. Kil Yi, thanking the panelists and audience for coming and highlighting the importance of what was mentioned at the panel.