Student Profile

Justin Jia
Justin Jia ’17
Irvine, CA

Recipient of the Woong Dal Park and Myong Suk Park Odyssey Scholarship Fund

What did you do this past summer?
This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to take part in UChicago’s Summer Links Program, a highly integrative program which allows students to learn about the city of Chicago through a social justice lens. I spent the summer traveling throughout Chicago, from Roseland all the way up to Edgewater. We met with community leaders, employers, educators to learn about systemic problems that permeate the very threads of Chicago. Through this program, I was able to expand my horizons and learn about the amazing city that I have now come to call home. I was, and continue to be, truly humbled by my amazing experience with Summer Links.

Please comment on the pursuit of your major and minor, as well as any other academic interests.
I am currently interested in a major in biological chemistry and anthropology. I am especially interested in the development of ethics and values within civilizations throughout the world. On the biochemistry end, I am interested in physical chemistry and how mathematical models of chemical properties of synthetic polymers can aid us in creating cheaper and more durable materials. I am currently working in a biochemistry lab and hope to become a full time researcher or professor in the future. My dream is to one day win the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Please tell us about a significant or memorable experience you have had during your time at UChicago.
I think that the most memorable experience that I have had at UChicago is probably the European Civilization class that I took last quarter with Dr. Ada Palmer, a leading historian in Renaissance literature. Not only was I challenged more than I have ever been before, but I got to work with primary documents first hand. In high school I had the opportunity to take Latin and through this European Civilizations class, I was able to transfer what I had learned in a language class into a history class. The experience was absolutely amazing. For our final project, we were asked to write letters to ourselves in five years and talk about the life lessons that we learned from the class. I am still in constant contact with this particular professor and am working on a new project that seeks to translate lost books from the Renaissance Era.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? Are there any that are new from last year?
Outside of school I spend a great amount of time working in a hospice on the South Side. Although it is very emotionally and physically draining, the work that I do keeps me grounded and thankful for everything and everyone who I am blessed to have in my life. Besides the hospice, I serve on the executive council for the Housing Activities Resource Council which funds inter-house trips to foster camaraderie among students. I have recently become more involved in the Calvert House which runs a number of Catholic charities.

As a scholarship recipient, to what extent are you grateful for the support you received? What are your thoughts on how you might one day give back to the University of Chicago?
I am truly thankful for the ability to attend such a prestigious and educationally challenging institution; never in a million years would I have ever thought that I would have this opportunity to attend the University of Chicago. Growing up, I came from a very low-income background and knew that education was the only way that I could make something of myself. I think the greatest memory that I have is not opening the acceptance letter, but realizing that I could afford to go to such amazing university. Thank you for your generosity, although words cannot describe how I feel about your contribution and investment in my future. I know that you are giving a significant amount of money to support a student whom you have never met, but I want to make a promise to you that your money is not wasted. I will work at my absolute hardest so that I may one day give a student the opportunity to attend UChicago much like you have done for me. Thank you.

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