September, the start of the fall semester, is when many Kingos start thinking about their majors and careers. Thankfully, at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), the Sungkyun Mentors guide Kingos through such concerns. To welcome the beginning of the second semester, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) interviewed Soon-Hyeun Jung. She is a Sungkyun Mentor of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) sector and a graduate of the Department of Philosophy at SKKU.
The Mentor of Kingos: Soon-Hyeun Jung
Soon-hyeun Jung, Sungkyun Mentor
Q1. Please introduce yourself.
Hello, I am Soon-Hyeun Jung, a Sungkyun Mentor. I entered the Department of Philosophy at SKKU in 1983 and received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Provence Aix-Marseille I. Then, I returned to SKKU as a professor. Currently, I work as a Sungkyun Mentor, giving academic advice to students in the HSS sector at SKKU.
Q2. Why did you come back to SKKU and become a Sungkyun Mentor?
After obtaining my Ph.D. in France, I decided to return to SKKU. Then, as SKKU launched the University College system in 2005, I started to teach general elective subjects (GED) such as Public Speech and Debate as well as Philosophy of Life Evolution. As I taught GEDs, I met numerous first-year students, which motivated me to become a mentor; I wanted to guide these students through their school life. Therefore, I applied for the Sungkyun Mentor program.
Q3. What is the role of the Sungkyun Mentor?
Our main job is to give academic advice to students. As for me, I deliver educational information to freshmen in the HSS sector so they can successfully start their first year at SKKU. I also support students in participating in extracurricular programs, and most importantly, I promote student development. More specifically, I help students adjust to their new university life during the spring semester. During the fall semester, I help students select their majors and careers. Sungkyun Mentors also run programs such as the First Year Experience (FYE) Seminar, which provides students with individual counseling or group counseling with their Learning Community (LC, an integrated group of first -year students from several departments). Last but not least, the following programs are also provided: Creative Study Groups, Global Buddies, and various LC programs.
|Sungkyun Mentor Contacts|
The Journey to Become a Good Mentor
Q4. You have worked as a Sungkyun Mentor since 2007. Please tell us about the hardships you may have experienced and how the system has changed.
At first, I had little understanding of academic advising due to my lack of experience. Also, many students were unaware of the Sungkyun Mentor system, as they had never heard of “academic advising.” However, with the help of extracurricular programs, students started recognizing what the Sungkyun Mentor system was for. The LC and academic advising systems were built from 2008 to 2011, which allowed students to know more about us. Also, after the Counseling Area was created on the Golden Lawn Square (GLS), the intranet service system, students could contact mentors more easily. Later, from 2012 to 2019, the academic advising system was activated successfully, allowing for significant advances in the program. Finally, in 2020, the mentoring program broadened its area to online advising due to the pandemic. In a way, this change was the start of a new phase in our program.
Q5. How can students apply for the counseling program? Also, what should they prepare before meeting a mentor?
Students can apply for individual counseling through the following process: accessing GLS, entering the Challenge Square, selecting the Counseling Area, and applying for Counseling with a Sungkyun Mentor. Students can also receive counseling through e-mails and phone calls. To prepare for counseling, students should bring or send documents regarding academic consultation or bring a “workbook” that shows their current situation and concerns.
Q6. How is the Sungkyun Mentor program different from mentoring systems in other universities?
The Sungkyun Mentor program is very systematically built. Our mentoring system is a combination of the LC program and the academic counseling of Sungkyun Mentors. Through individual counseling, mentors can check how students have adjusted to school. Furthermore, through group counseling and extracurricular programs, mentors can help students participate in group activities and improve their personal and social skills. Most mentoring systems in other universities only focus on the student’s individual growth. On the other hand, the Sungkyun Mentor program focuses on improving students’ citizenship through community activities and extracurricular programs.
Q7. What makes you most happy as a mentor?
I feel happy when I can fulfill my abilities as a mentor. For example, there are times when students find a solution to a problem themselves based on the information I have provided. Watching over such a process makes me very proud. I believe academic advising is not a “one-off event” but a “growing process” for the students. Hence, it is truly an honor to participate in even a tiny part of this process.
Q8. What should be the most important ability of a mentor?
The most essential ability would be professionalism. Mentors should always try to help the student as much as possible, but should not overly empathize with them. It is also vital for mentors to differentiate between areas in which they can help and cannot; the mentor’s job is to teach students how to find solutions. Mentors should always be ready to help students grow and further lead them to success.
Q9. Have you experienced any difficulties as a Sungkyun Mentor? Also, what should be improved in the system?
I had a lot of concerns before becoming a mentor, as I used to be an ordinary professor. The two jobs differ a lot in terms of their roles. While professors are only required to deliver lectures to the class, mentors must listen to students and empathize with them. To become a better mentor, I observed and studied the academic advising system in various places, expanding my view. On the other hand, I believe students who do not enter SKKU through the University College system should also experience the mentoring system. Since the Sungkyun Mentor program is not a default provision for them, students have fewer opportunities to ask for help or advice.
Future Soon-Hyeun Jung
Q10. What goals do you want to achieve as a Sungkyun Mentor?
My goal is to work as a Sungkyun Mentor for a long time. I love SKKU and the students, and I always feel thrilled and proud when helping the students solve their problems. I believe Kingos are individuals with a high potential for development. Thus, I think my role is to support and encourage them for a long time.
Q11. How would you hope to be remembered by the students in the future?
I do not want to be remembered in any particular way. While some students simply talk about their academic concerns, others tell me stories that often include personal information or even stories they consider “embarrassing.” It would be very awkward if I kept remembering them, or if the students remembered telling me such stories. Furthermore, I believe that students should be the protagonists of their successful university lives. I only hope that students remember the Sungkyun Mentor system is available for them to use as part of a helpful program at SKKU.
Q12. Finally, do you have any advice for Kingos who may worry about their future?
Think about what you want to do, what you want to study, and what you are good at. After that, try to utilize the many resources our school provides as much as possible. You can talk with your Sungkyun Mentor if you have concerns or wish to participate in any specific program you are interested in. In any way, remember to find and express your interest through diverse activities at school. Good luck!
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