Shin aims to use her MPP skills to support education policy for children and families.
Headshot of Jeongmin Shin
Jeongmin Shin

“The reality is,” Jeongmin Shin said, “my undergraduate academic background has very little to do with my current studies at Harris. My volunteering experiences are a much greater influence.”

A native of Incheon, South Korea, Shin began volunteering when she was thirteen. “My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and she always volunteered and would take me with her. When I left home to attend college, I continued to seek volunteer opportunities as an after-school care giver, special school teaching assistant, and a tutor and mentor to high school students.”

While earning her bachelor of arts in philosophy from Korea University, Shin also accumulated more than 200 hours of volunteer work. “As a result of my volunteering, I was selected to participate in an international month-long volunteer group in Cambodia where I taught Korean culture to Cambodian students and helped build a public library.”

Shin said that although her experience in Cambodia sparked an interest in education policy—specifically for children and families—her career took a different trajectory after graduating. “I actually worked as a flight attendant for about four years,” she said. "While it was mostly to pay the bills, I also loved traveling, and I had the opportunity to see many new places as a flight attendant

However, it wasn’t long until her desire to volunteer and give back called: she left the airline industry and spent six months in Spain learning Spanish.

“Then my mother unexpectedly passed away,” Shin said. “I thought a lot about her unfulfilled dreams, which made me really reflect on what I wanted to do.”

Thinking back on her volunteering experience, Shin began considering a political career. “It seemed that as a politician I would be in the strongest position to propose and move forward education policies that support and serve those in need. However, I also quickly recognized that if I wanted to find success in a political role, I would need policy analysis skills. And I then realized I may want to instead focus my energies into becoming an effective policy analyst.” 

Shin’s desire to pursue policy analysis led her to the University of Chicago Harris Master of Public Policy program and its quantitative-focused courses. “When I was exploring master’s programs, UChicago‘s analytical reputation made a big impression on me,” Shin said. “And although the workload has been as challenging as I expected, I love it here—the faculty and the student body are incredible. I am really looking forward to developing strong analytical skills.” So far, Shin said her favorite classes have been Analytical Politics I and Statistics.

When she’s not immersed in schoolwork, Shin also serves as a Harris Ambassador, speaking with prospective students about her Harris experience. Shin said one piece of advice she often shares with prospective students is to be patient as they explore and assess their goals. “If you believe you are not on the right path to your goals, don't get frustrated—there’s almost always a link between your path and goals—even if there’s ten years between them!”