It has been a truly sensational moment to graduate from the ANU College of Law this year. As I made the leap from student to alumna, I reflected on the people, connections and events that had shaped me up to that very moment.
I thought about my Year 7 teacher Mr Ian George McLellan, who always believed in me and helped me so much when I moved with my family to Cairns, Australia from Gwangju, Korea.
I thought about my ANU professors, like Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Dowling, Patrick Guinness, Ruth Barraclough, Nick Cheesman and Joshua Neoh, who were excited to teach, genuinely compassionate, and always made time for students - walking into their classrooms was like entering a different universe.
And I thought about Professor Phillipa Weeks, who was perhaps the most impactful to my time at ANU.
Professor Philippa Weeks is the reason I studied at ANU - without the Phillipa Weeks scholarship, I may not even have had the opportunity to be a part of this great ANU community or meet the amazing mentors who have made such an impact on my life. The scholarship supported me to study transnational law in Geneva and also join a research field school trip to Sumba, Indonesia.
Phillipa Weeks inspired and taught so many future lawyers at ANU, and those people were in turn, motivated by her kindness and humanity to donate to a scholarship in her name.
That is the power of the ripple effect, and being able to experience it first-hand taught me that every little gesture - whether it be a warm smile, or inviting someone who is sitting by themselves to join you - has an impact. In this way, Phillipa Weeks taught me not to just be a great lawyer but also a kind human.
These are the values that have guided me throughout university. In my first year at ANU, they gave me the courage to pursue the idea of building the first library in Batase, a remote village in Nepal, specifically to combat human trafficking. With the support of ANU, generous donors, Libraries Without Borders, Friends of Himalayan Children, the Batase community and a team of 13 other incredible students, we opened the library on Christmas Day, 2018.
Today, Batase village residents have a secure place where they can have access to a digital library (KoomBook), human trafficking awareness resources, 1000 physical books plus 45,000 E-books, whereas before they had to walk for two days to reach the closest library.
Now, as I prepare to dive into my graduate position and start my future in law, I think about my older sister - Lee Gayoun. My sister was the reason I became interested in pursuing law. She suffered from medical negligence when she was very young and, because of that, only lived to the age of seven. I used to be angry that I lost my sister but as I found my purpose in law, I was able to channel my anger into a passion and dedication for helping others who have suffered similarly. I hope to be a lawyer that she can be proud of.
I've realised that it is my turn to continue the ripple effect and be the 'kind human' that my sister, Phillipa Weeks, and my many mentors at ANU, have helped me become.
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