We contacted Ted to discuss the Korean Liberal Arts Student Organization (KLASO) and how it helped bind him to the campus and other students through the challenging COVID circumstances.
Ted is a Senior in our Clinical-Community program and has recently been named President of the organization.
1 - Could you briefly describe the objectives of the Korean Liberal Arts Student Organization (KLASO)?
Korean Liberal Arts Student Organization (KALSO) is founded in 2017 in order to reinforce the connection of Korean LAS major students. We have a total of three academic teams: statistics, economics, and psychology. Each team regularly has a meeting to exchange information, to get to know friends with the same interests and to proceed with unique activities and projects related to the major. At the same time as a whole group, KLASO offers social events, fundraising, and sponsor works related to their academic works.
2 – How did you come about becoming a member and then eventually an officer?
After serving my military duty in Korea, I came back to UIUC in Fall 2020. It was particularly hard to restart my school life because not only it had been a long time to come back, but also the severe COVID situation stood as a great hardship to keep in touch with people. I was looking for a way to socialize under safe conditions and found the brochure about KLASO on Facebook. It intrigued me greatly because I was looking for fellow Psychology students who were in similar conditions. Without hesitation, I applied to join, had interviews with the president of RSO and the psychology team leader, and became a member of KLASO.
We went through every activity online last year for some members of the psychology team who were not in UIUC. Certainly, online work was unusual for everyone and we often faced uncomfortableness and hardship compared to doing so in in-person. Nevertheless, we were all highly motivated to work. In Fall, each member had researched their own interest in the psychology field and had a presentation to share knowledge with other members. In Spring, we chose one common topic and collaborated together to collate scientific journals and dissertations to make one big poster. I devoted my effort to my work, and thankfully outcomes looked much better than I expected. It seemed like my devotion was rated high by board members; in a semester, I became the psychology team leader and led the fellow psychology students, and in a year, I became the president of KLASO as the former president rated me highly as an enthusiastic member.
3 - What do you feel are the most beneficial features of membership?
I think the most beneficial feature of becoming a member of KLASO is gaining opportunities socially and academically. As I mentioned above, KLASO is meant to reinforce the connection. KLASO offers a place for students who share the same major and interest to meet up and build connections. We share information such as which classes are recommended, what kinds of career options are popular, and how to get used to school life. Not only that, each team spends time together to work on their own project. It is an opportunity to experience what students work on prior to the class, and prepare themselves for a future career. For example, in Spring 2021, the psychology team created a scientific poster about the psychological effect of sleep, the economics team had a presentation and debate of contemporary economic trends, and the statistics team studied Python program in advance. KLASO always provides various opportunities to join and work together in an academic fashion.
4 – Are there featured events that take place each year?
Every team leader designs and proceeds events for his team. Mostly, each team creates posters and presentations to present a project or a specific topic related to the major and interest. Aside from that, as a whole organization, KLASO does fundraisers to contribute money to children in need in Champaign. We could not do so last year due to the Covid situation, but we are expecting it for the upcoming semester.
5 – Are there any minimum commitments to be in the organization?
All LAS students are welcome to join. Although there is no restriction on applying to the team, I would recommend applying for the team based on the major. For example, it is possible for psychology students to join in Statistics team, but it would be more beneficial to follow the major for each team can provide more suitable information and opportunities.
6 – How does one learn more about the organization and becoming a member?
Our brochure can be found on the official UIUC Korean page, and there is information on Facebook. Application for Fall 2021 deadline is due 08/27 Friday.