As a St. John's University student and a Korean-American, it is automatically assumed that I am a pharmacy student mainly due to my ethnicity. I normally don't get offended about certain jokes, but I have to admit that sometimes I do get offended when, after hearing I'm from St. John's, someone asks, "So how's pharmacy going?"
I am a journalism major with the aspiration of becoming a lawyer. It's never not awkward when you find that you're one of the only people of your ethnicity among your classmates. Aside from my core classes, there were many instances where I was the only Asian in the class. However, having gone to a high school that was Jewish and Caucasian dominated, I was able to get over this small "hindrance" that I was faced with as a freshman. I put hindrance in quotes because it wasn't so much of a roadblock for me. It ended up helping me in many ways and I found myself loving my diverse circle of friends. In that sense, I feel as if, as a person, I am more American than Korean. I want more diversity.
Students in my journalism classes were from all different races and ethnicities, including but not limited to Hispanics, African-Americans, Haitians, Italians and Caucasians. With a diverse group of colleagues and friends, I was able to get a taste of the different cultures that each person brought to the classroom and to the campus. It helped me to understand the cultural gestures and traditions better, so that I would be more mindful of what I say and do in front of people. I started working for the St. John's University student newspaper, The Torch, in October 2011. Again, I was intimidated by the managing board and was afraid to ask for help, but after getting to know each of them through casual conversation and production nights, I warmed up to them and I am still very close with every one of them.
Being the minority in my journalism program also helped me to prepare myself for life after graduation. Always seeing Koreans and Chinese people in their "cliques" made me worry about how they would be able to work with people of other races and ethnicities in the workplace. As a college student, your major should be something that you're good at and passionate about. Whether or not you're in a minority in that area, work hard and be ambitious in reaching your ultimate goal and dream job. Being a minority in a major can be hard to adjust at first, but it's a real eye-opener and your college life will be an exciting one, with different things happening each day.
There are times when I'm sitting in a classroom and look around to find no one else of my ethnicity in the class. But ultimately, I let it go because it doesn't make a difference where you're from -- it's just the fact that you have a passion for journalism. Everyone else in the class is there for the same reason.
I don't have a single regret about not going into an "Asian" major. As I mentioned, it's a real eye-opener and it prepares you for the workplace after you graduate. Being social isn't all about Greek life, athletics and clubs, but it's also about interacting with colleagues in your field. They're there to help you and you're there to help them climb up that ladder, both socially and professionally.
I love being a journalism major, despite being a minority. I made friends at a school that I love to be at, and the friends I've made -- both journalism and non-journalism -- have made me into the person I am today.
Follow Sarah Yu on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sarahdianna