Sela Hong (Colin Powell Fellow ’12) did not walk the narrow path to the Powell Center. Some students come to the Center as though shot from a cannon; this was always where they were destined to end up. Sela, however, happened upon the Powell Center by chance, a fortunate coincidence indeed.
In March 2006 Sela left her native South Korea to study in the United States. She describes this decision as the “fulfillment of a dream”. Sela not only wanted to study in the US, but she was excited to experience the dramatically different sociocultural expectations of Western society. She had no clear aspirations for public service when she set out.
After a brief stint as a humanities major and then a business administration major, Sela graduated from LaGuardia College in Queens with an Associates degree in Math and Science. Her advisor in the honors program encouraged her to pursue the newly launched Skadden, Arps Honors Program at CCNY. With that suggestion Sela was off to City College where she would ultimately discover the Powell Fellowship.
In 2009 Sela had the opportunity to participate in two internships that would change the direction of her professional and academic life. She worked with immigrant communities – Asian women specifically – at NYC Council Member Helen Sears’ office, and then again as a volunteer coordinator on the campaign to elect Kevin Kim. She came to understand that the immigrant experience was not just her experience, but there were common themes that all who come to this country must confront.
Sela came to the Powell Center with a new commitment to serving immigrant communities and as an emerging advocate for the immigrant experience. She saw the Center as the best place to pursue these revitalized interests. In our conversation Sela took a moment to explain how the Center has supported her, “The Powell Center gave me support, mentorship, friendship – particularly with other fellows,” then she paused and added, “Sometimes you don’t believe in yourself, trust yourself, but the Powell Center does.”
Sela is preparing to take the LSAT next June and anticipates attending law school in Washington DC. She is committed to pursuing a career in immigration law and policy.
“Becoming a Powell Fellow is one of the great achievements in my life,” shares Sela. I speak on behalf of everyone here at the Center when I say we are certain Sela will continue to be an effective and passionate advocate for any issue that concerns her; I anticipate she will continue to blaze her own path and make her own luck in any endeavor she pursues.
Colin Dixon is the program coordinator for student leadership at the Colin Powell Center. Read more about him and our other contributing authors.