Finding a love for school, unlike ‘exhausting’ system in Seoul
MARSHFIELD When students write about what they want to be when they grow up, those letters often are buried in time, never to be read again. If they are unearthed, often the plans the student has differ greatly from what he or she dreamed of as a child.

But Narin Jeong came across something she wrote more than a decade ago that confirmed an idea that had been running through her mind.

“I read my old autobiography, and it said ... that I wanted to be a dentist living in Chicago. I was like, ‘Oh, how did that even happen?’” said Narin, a senior at Columbus High School in Marshfield.
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Narin Jeong

Age: 19
Residence: Marshfield and Seoul, South Korea
School: Columbus Catholic High School
Parents: Woo Cheol Jeong and Young Kim. Host family: John and Laura Kruse
College Plans: Still undecided, but heavily leaning toward attending the University of the Pacific accelerated dentistry program
Hobbies: Staying fit, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and listening to Maroon 5

The decision to pursue a degree in dentistry allows Narin — whose family lives in Seoul — to stay in the United States for her entire academic career. If she went to medical school, she likely would have had to go home to South Korea to complete her degree.

The fact she was accepted into a rigorous accelerated dental program helped, too.

“It was always my intention (to go to medical school), but while digging through college, I found dentistry to be very similar,” Narin said. “The more I researched about it, the more I found myself liking it. It’s a slight adjustment, while (allowing me to) stay in the United States.”

Narin attended one semester of high school while living in South Korea, but she said she very much prefers school here.

“I’m not just judged on whether I do good on simple academic subjects. I’m judged on my characteristics. I’m judged on my personality, and how I treat others as well as my academic career,” she said.

Students in South Korea were expected to go to an after-school study program, she said, and would return home completely exhausted at the end of the day.

“When we thought of going to school every morning, we thought, ‘Oh, god, this is going to be exhausting. We don’t want to do this anymore,’” she said. “Over here, I actually love going to school. I’ve enjoyed every single class.”

As a junior, Narin noticed Marshfield High School’s Habitat for Humanity club and took it upon herself to establish a chapter at Columbus.

“What sets her apart from her classmates is her willingness to look outside of school to help others,” said Steve Van Wyhe, principal at Columbus in his recommendation letter for Jeong. “She saw a need in the community, and she did her best to help out.”

Narin said she is in the process of finding a successor to take the reins once she graduates.

Besides Habitat for Humanity, Narin serves as the vice president of her class on student council, is editor of the school’s newspaper and the editor of the school yearbook, even if that was partially for selfish reasons.

“I didn’t want an ugly picture of me in the yearbook, so I had to make sure I was a part of that,” she said with a wry smile.

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