I was born in Canada to a German-English father and a South Korean mother. Growing up, we lived in a small town in Northeastern Alberta. I didn’t realize I was different in terms of my race until we moved to Ontario, where classmates asked me where I was “really from”.
Because of my differences, I was extremely shy and did not have a lot of confidence in myself. When you see unachievable standards of beauty set by society, and you can never align with those standards, it does take a toll on your self-worth and ambitions. My parents kept on encouraging me that what really mattered was your kindness towards others and your education.⠀
I didn’t come to terms with my bi-racial identity until I moved to Toronto for university. It was such an amazing breath of fresh air to see so many diverse people and to become friends with other Eurasians. I developed an amazing support network of friends and had incredibly strong female mentors. Importantly, my confidence grew and I discovered my passion for mental health.
At the age of 25, I earned a PhD in pharmacology, where my research focused on brain imaging and psychiatry. Being the first person in my family to go to university and the first to become a doctor was a huge deal, and I love supporting others to discover their potential – that’s why I am currently a mental health researcher and pursuing medical school. When you don’t see women of color in higher positions, you need to let that be your motivation to help break down barriers.
The biggest cheerleader is yourself and you can be part of that change to help empower other women and young girls.