Yong H. Kim

Keeping Track of Discussions with My Thesis Adviser

Now two full weeks have passed since my research for the Dietrich Honors Fellowship started. Doing independent research over the summer struck me as an inspiring and stimulating responsibility, as it may be one of only a few opportunities that I have to conduct research about my own interests, and not for a class project. If I were doing this all alone, I would find it daunting and frustrating determining how to begin and where to head. Fortunately, under the direct and regular supervision of my thesis adviser, Professor Martin Gaynor, I am able to unfold the project in a timely manner and build my own perspectives on issues that interest me.

We meet weekly—and often biweekly—depending on workloads that are given to me at our previous meeting. I am absolutely loving our meetings. I get to ask Professor Gaynor about materials that are not often taught in class and get to hear the his personal opinions on many policies . For example, he assured me that there are always costs and benefits to policies as exemplified by the Affordable Care Act. I believe that I can better learn something through deliberate discussions and constructive feedback, instead of by dry textbooks and lectures, as discussions and feedback can be only given and understood only if I have full understating of the subject. These conversations gently push me to fully grasp the concepts and construct my own viewpoints.

When it comes to discussion, however, the professor’s profound and abundant knowledge can be so overwhelming that I may have a hard time following him. I find it crucial to keep written documents of what we talk about, not only to keep track of what our meeting was about, but also for my future reference. Documentation allows me to allocate my time and work efficiently and to see the big picture of where he is leading me. Without keeping written documents, I may have a hard time organizing my time and our invaluable discussions would be forgotten.

What Can the U.S. Learn From the Health Insurance Systems of the Netherlands and Switzerland?

kimI have always been interested in providing services for those in need. For example, I enrolled in Constru Casa, an organization that recruits people to help construct houses for underprivileged families in Guatemala. I’ve also participated in programs that fought against poverty in Korea by helping the elderly without proper health services.

But as each project ended, I felt helpless and like my best efforts only provided temporary relief to a grave problem. Without a permanent solution, we are doing nothing more than chipping away at glacier.

While a part of me still asks me to jump into action so I can continue to help others, a larger part motivates my pursuit of permanent solutions. To be honest, I do not have a solid plan on how to change the world, but I humbly dream of making this world a better place for all one day, with better health services for all.

Learn more about my project.

Meet the Fellows


Front row (left to right): Naomi Sternstein, Kayla Lee, Karen Nguyen, You Bin Maeng, Ariel Hoffmaier, Amber James, Lauren Yan; back row (left to right): Mary Catherine (Casey) Devine, Ian Sears, David Beinhart, Yong H. Kim, Isabel Bleimeister

In early May, members of the 2016-17 group of Honors Fellows joined the 2017-18 cohort for lunch, where they discussed their challenges and successes and offered pointers to the new group.

Attendees included David Beinhart, Isabel Bleimeister, Mary Catherine (Casey) Devine, Ariel Hoffmaier, Amber James, Yong H. Kim, Kayla Lee, You Bin Maeng, Karen Nguyen, Ian Sears, Naomi Sternstein and Lauren Yan.