70-year-old Kim Young-ja graduates from the YU School of Business
Working at day and studying at night by running a business in Goesan, Chungbuk
Traveled 5 hours round-trip every day for 4 years to take night classes
[February 20, 2018]
A very special student will be graduating on the 22nd. She is 70-year-old Kim Young-ja (photo) who will be receiving a very special diploma after commuting between Chungcheong-do and Gyeongsang-do for four years.
Mrs. Kim showed by example that ‘you can do anything that you put your mind to’. Mrs. Kim is a businesswoman running Cheongseong Industries, an automobile parts company in Goesan, Chungbuk and enrolled at the YU School of Business in 2014.
The distance between Goesan, Chungbuk to Gyeongsan, Gyeongbuk, which is where YU is located, is over 180km. She traveled about 5 hours round-trip on weekdays when she had classes. She spent four years working at her company during the day while taking classes at night. Mrs. Kim stayed at the company dormitory on weekdays and traveled between Goesan and Gyeongsan every day to take classes to balance work and school. On the weekends, she stays at Cheongdo, Gyeongbuk at her home, and once Monday starts again, she traveled to and fro Goesan for work and classes for four years.
“After work, I always rushed to get to class that started at 6 p.m. I always left the company at the last minute and so there were many times that I was worried that I would be late to class. I wanted to set a good example and be proud of myself while studying with younger students.”
For four years in college, Mrs. Kim was never late or missed a class. Though it is obvious that it must have been very tiring to travel long distances and take classes, she always enjoyed her classes. She not only studied diligently. She spent time with students who were the age of her grandchildren and enjoyed college life just like any other student in their 20s. In her freshman year, she participated in a class trip and took care of her fellow students by bringing food that she prepared. She even invited her fellow classmates and seniors and juniors to her home in Cheongdo on several occasions.
“Despite my old age, the students were very friendly and simply called me ‘big sis’, and they hung out with me. My professors were very considerate too. They always showed concern on rainy days because I would have to drive a long distance late at night. I was happy for all four years thanks to the family-like environment created by the professors and students.”
Mrs. Kim always wanted to study more, but she said that she did not have the opportunity because she had to take care of her children and run her business. She promised herself that she would attend university once her children grew up to be on their own and once her company became stable, and finally enrolled at YU in 2014.
Mrs. Kim is an entrepreneur. She founded her company in 1985 and ran the company for 33 years. She is a recognized businesswoman in the industry for her company’s thorough quality management. She suffered a huge injury while working with a machine at her company 23 years ago and lost her left hand. But she did not despair for long. With the motto that she could do anything as long as she put her mind to it, she worked hard at her company and built it up to what it is today. This is the same for her at school. She worked on her academics for four straight years, which is tough even for younger people, and studied harder than anyone else. She studied English on her own and is at a level of communicating at a basic level. She is also studying Chinese and Japanese, and her academic endeavor is still in progress.
We asked what her plans are after retirement after she said that she would like to use what she learned at college, as she now has a diploma in business administration, in order to make her company stronger.
“I don’t have a grand goal or anything. I want to stay healthy and if I have the opportunity in the future, I would like to make food for the elderly living alone or need assistance and travel as well. I believe that by tackling one goal at a time, I will be able to achieve my dreams one day. I hope that younger people will also enjoy challenges in their lives with the confidence that they can do anything that they put their mind to.”