Ms. Se-in Kim was in the KDI School class of 2018, and she graduated with the degree of MPP (Master in Public Policy). After her master’s degree, she received admission to Harvard University’s PhD in Population Health Sciences (PHS) program. She has worked for KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) for 8 years, the Korea International Cooperation Agency, and most of her work has concentrated on international development and health.
Q) What made you decide to come to KDI School? Why did you decide to go to KDI School among other graduate schools?
As personnel working in KOICA and dealing with international development, I take priorities in development studies and carry out most of my research in development. I planned to go to graduate school right after my undergraduate degree, but I got a job instead to get real-life experience. As I was working, I felt I needed more improvement in economic base or economic methodology. So, I entered KDI School as a part-time student.
My career seems more related to development policy, so it made more sense to take the MDP. But, instead of taking the MDP, I chose the MPP (Master in Public Policy) because I wanted to study development policy in a broad aspect.
Q) When did you start attending KDI School and when did you graduate KDI School? What major-related activities did you do at KDI School? What extra-curricular activities did you take part in?
I entered KDI School in February 2016 and graduated in January 2018. As a part-time student, I did not get to participate in student clubs as I only took classes in the evening; but, I did study group with friends from developing countries.
Q) What did you enjoy the most and find most difficult while you were at KDI School?
I commuted to KDI from Seoul, so it was difficult for me to commute long distance from Seoul every weekend. Nevertheless, the environment of KDI School allowed me to focus on studying, the library opened 24 hours and books were available on request. The on-campus tennis court and the lawn were nice when I took a walk.
In terms of study, there were many economics-based classes, it was difficult for me to catch up in the beginning. However, KDI School was helpful to me during group discussion and work in that there were people from diverse developing countries that know the real-life situation in their countries.
Q) Why did you plan to go to Harvard University for your PhD?
First, there was a large pool of professors in the research field that I want to study further. Second, regarding my career and research interest correspond to the Harvard’s Population Health Sciences program. Third, the school has actively engaged in a various programs in the field of global health, I think it enables me to find more research opportunities in the future.
Q) What is your program at Harvard? What are you interested in studying? What do you want to do? Do you have any plans after getting the PhD?
My program is the PhD in Population Health Sciences with a specialization in Global Health and Population. I am interested in studying health system, such as health financing, workforce management, and health service delivery issues. But the specifics will be discussed later with my advisor.
My primary goal is to stay in academia as an independent researcher.
Q) What kind of person do you think you are? What personality or character do you have?
I do not have an active personality, but I do not have fears in taking a new path and challenging myself to do new things. I could be satisfied with a stable career, but I wanted to know more things and my curiosity led me to want to know more about a new field.
Q) Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy playing tennis and watching YouTube.
Q) What was helpful to you in getting admission from Harvard?
It wasn’t mandatory to write a thesis, but I wrote one. The guidance from professors in writing a thesis was so much helpful in terms of having a research experience; I want to give thanks to Dean Jong-il You, Professor Wang Shun, Tabakis Chrisysotomos and Kyewoo Lee.
Also taking classes in quantitative methods was helpful, especially a class like Econometrics and Mathematics course. It improved my knowledge in quantitative methodology.
Various past experiences in project management at KOICA must be my strong point to get admission because the program has many of on-going field-oriented researches. And also KDI School has a global reputation among public policy schools, so it helped me in gaining admission to Harvard.
Q) What was your relationship with your classmates?
I became close with PhD students in KDI School, and received help with math. Most of the people I took classes with were part-time students, so I was able to do good networking with other part-time students. Many of them were working in the government sector as researchers, so I had a chance to meet them in my work setting after graduation.
Q) Please let current KDI School students know if you have any favorite places to introduce.
I used the library on the fourth floor over the library on the second floor. The terrace next to KDI School research building on the first floor is a good place to take a rest.