GIS Alumni Branching out to New Pastures – Yelin Kim

Yelin Kim (Class of 2019)

Studying Integrative Biology (pre-medicine track) at the University of California, Berkeley.


Hi Yelin! Can you share with us your experiences at university so far?

University so far has just been nothing but an amalgam of different and new perspectives and experiences! Everything – the culture, weather, people – has been a vast change. 

‘Daunted but excited’ probably best sums up how I felt when I started! Being left to my own devices to deal with new challenges was indeed a struggle in the beginning, but even though I’m still learning and I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve definitely started to find my place and worth within Berkeley. Meeting people from all walks of life who attend this academically challenging institution, with the common value of all being truly passionate about what we’re studying, continues to inspire me. Over here, everyone seems to have embraced what they stand for and as a freshman, it has been so comforting to see that. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I can honestly say that I’ve pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and adapt to my ever-changing life here. Now, I look forward to what each new day will bring me! 

Now, Berkeley really does feel like my ‘home away from home’. I am excited to explore my potential as a student and act on that potential to contribute more to the community. 


What surprised you most about University life?

One of the most shocking facts for me was that some of my classes had up to 600 students all in one hall! I knew from the get go that I would have to work incredibly hard to excel amongst so many students, and that establishing close relationships with my professors would be challenging but imperative. Coming from GIS, where teachers would always go out of their way to help me, really helped give me the confidence and willingness to proactively build those relationships with my professors. 


How else did GIS prepare you up for University life?

I don’t know where to start – there are so many ways that it helped me!

Perhaps the biggest is the way the school pushed me to actively balance my social and academic workloads and always strive to achieve my potential. Doing the International Gold Award really taught me to persevere, and to become stronger physically and mentally. 

Academically, surviving the rigorous qualifications of A Levels helped prepare me for the demands of university study. Even though every day here is unpredictable, I’ve definitely followed through with my habits and routines from back home which have definitely helped me. Finally, GIS is also a demographically diverse community, and I think I had taken that for granted until I came here. As a result of being at GIS, I found it easy to talk to people who came from all around the world, immerse myself into conversations, and empathise with their backgrounds – a skill GIS honed in me.