February 12, 2020

Meet Stella Park: Featured ELI Alumna

By Angelina Gamradt

Stella Park moved to the U.S. from South Korea a year ago in December to be closer to her two children. She also had a big goal in mind: attending dental school. And so, she decided to start her studies with the English Language Institute to get ready for this next challenge. After a great deal of work and preparation, Stella will begin dental school at Rutgers University this spring. “After middle-age,” she said, “I want a new career to improve myself. There are two advantages to being here: investing in myself and being near my children.”

Stella spoke to me about how she felt so much support during her time at the ELI. Realizing how hard it can be to speak at the level of your intelligence in a language you do not know, she said, “My teachers helped me express my thoughts. They inspired and encouraged me to embrace my mistakes.” She also found that the diversity of her classmates helped her feel supported.

Stella with Her Mother Wonkang Kim
Stella with Her Mother Wonkang Kim
Stella (second from left) brunching in NYC with Classmates
Stella (second from left) brunching in NYC with Classmates
Stella on Right with Classmate Yuyang in Washington Square Park in front of NYU’s Bobst Library
Stella on Right with Classmate Yuyang in Washington Square Park in front of NYU’s Bobst Library

Stella reflected on how she now feels open to express herself here, especially since all in class are treated equally, no matter their age, adding that when she was called upon in class to speak her mind, she was always treated with respect. She felt impressed by her classmates, finding conversations with them inspiring. They often shared recommendations on museums, musicals, and restaurants, including their favorite places featuring their home cuisines. “Teachers are experts in American cuisine,” she said. It is true, many of our teachers are as skilled in pizza selections as they are in teaching English.

When Stella was growing up, her mother was an elementary school teacher. In fact, her 83-year-old mom is still a mathematics tutor for elementary-age children. In fact, her mother’s love of education has given Stella the same passion for a life filled with learning as her own. Clearly, Stella has embraced this way of life and hopes to support her children as they develop their own opinions and goals.

“New York is energetic and diverse,” Stella told me, “and has more opportunities for jobs.” Therefore, the family plans to stay in the U.S. and, in time, her husband will join them.

In just a few short years, Stella will be ready to see you in the dental chair. She is truly an inspiration, and we wish her all the luck in the world.

Stella and Her Husband Young Koh
Stella and Her Husband Young Koh

Angelina Gamradt has been with the ELI since 2006. She currently supports the Professional English Program and assists with visa processing.  Until recently, she supported the Comprehensive English Program for 12 years.


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