For Ronald Kim (MPA ’06), politics is personal.
This energetic second-term assemblyman— representing his hometown, Flushing, as well as Whitestone and Murray Hill—was always inspired by “the idea of coming back to the neighborhood I grew up in, not only to help people, but also to empower the next generation of leaders to take ownership of local issues.”
And he’s no stranger to hard work, having honed his craft at Baruch as part of the National Urban Fellows program. Through the fellowship, Kim was able to earn a Master’s in Public Administration at SPIA while simultaneously serving as an advisor to the Chief Education Office of the Chicago Public Schools—no easy feat.
“It was one of the most challenging few months of my life so far,” Kim recalls, “with many ups and downs. But every time I fell short or felt defeated at my fellowship or in the classroom, there was always a professor at Baruch or a classmate who took the time to lift me up.”
One of those professors was Baruch College Fund Trustee Dr. Lewis Friedman, whose professional development class greatly influenced Kim. As part of the class, Kim was required to keep a three-month journal documenting his processes at work, an exercise that taught him “the importance of self-reflection and having a growth mindset.”
Kim recalls: “I learned that you must learn from your failures and setbacks instead of letting them invalidate who you are.”
He put these lessons into practice after graduating from Baruch, becoming the first-ever Korean-American elected to the New York State Legislature in 2012. His accomplishments include working to establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday and supporting legislation to empower small business owners.
“There’s nothing more gratifying than resolving an important issue, no matter how small or large,” he explains.
A native son of one of the world’s most multicultural cities, Kim is proud to see SPIA’s enhanced emphasis on international studies.
“I chose Baruch because of the genuine, lifelong relationships I was able to build with leaders from around the world,” he says. “So I’m excited about the global partnerships that will lead to even more diversity in the classrooms.”
– Gregory M. Leporati