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Alumni Spotlights

Jasper Kim

Spotlight on Jasper Kim, Marshall '94

Economics and Third World Studies

Tell me about your career.

I am a Professor at Ewha Womans University’s Graduate School of International Studies, in Seoul Korea, the world's largest women's university with 24,000 students.  I am also a columnist, author, lawyer and former investment banker, so I wear a few hats.  I contribute to various media, such as CNBC TV, BBC TV, and Bloomberg TV as well as haven written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).  Prior to joining academia, I was a lawyer for Lehman Brothers and an investment banker for Barclays Capital.  I also have written six books, the latest being 24 Hours with 24 Lawyers: Profiles of Traditional and Non-Traditional Careers (West Publishing, 2011), which profiles the typical 24-hour day of 24 law school graduates in the US and beyond.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I most enjoy the freedom to write about what I am curious about, and to teach the next generation of future global leaders.  This satisfaction is worth more than gold (even at today's bullish prices!).

What is your favorite UCSD memory?

My favorite UCSD memory was the time I spent at the Roma Cafe.  It's still probably one of my favorite spots in the world, mostly due to all the great memories there spending time studying and meeting friends.  The cafe mochas and scones also taste awesome (hope they still are), and more seriously, it was a place where I associated academia with enjoyment.

What is one thing that you learned at UCSD that has helped you in your career?

I took a Japanese economy course by Prof. Takeo Hoshi (IR/PS).  After being inspired by his course, I asked if he would be my senior thesis faculty supervisor, which he graciously agreed to do.  This opened up the doorway to academic studies related to Asia for me.  It also shows that--despite UCSD being a large top-tier public academic institution--still has faculty who are willing to take the time and effort to spend with students, even at the undergraduate level.

How did your UCSD experience impact who you are today?

My UCSD years definitely broadened my views on many things.  One takeaway is that so many people at UCSD are so brilliant in different ways.  In other words, genius does not come in a 'one size fits all' package.  Genius could come in the form of a surfer as equally as a sorority sister with the potential to think up the next big thing. To me, this is how it should be.

What social science issue concerns you the most?

I focus on East-West issues - from a legal, social, and economic interdisciplinary perspective.  Questions like, "Should the East just emulate the West?" and "What will Asia and America look like in say 2020 or 2050?"  Hopefully what I research is practical, so that it can make a positive impact on regular, everyday people.

What advice do you have for current students or other alumni?

Every person is so uniquely different.  So try to avoid the ad popularem fallacy--that just because everyone's going into banking or law school, that you should also.  Remember, it's your life, and you'll be the one putting in all the effort and hours so ideally it should be doing something you love rather than something you're ambivalent about.  Even if this process takes a while, and that you don't have a fancy business card just after graduation, it's better to wait and then zoom in on something you think is you.

Alumni Spotlights

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