Queens native is first-ever DACA recipient to be named Rhodes Scholar

Sunday, November 25, 2018

LINDEN HILL, Queens (WABC) -- This is a very special Thanksgiving indeed for Jin Park.

"Being the first DACA recipient to win the Rhodes, it's been truly... it's a humbling experience. And I feel an immense responsibility to give back to the immigrant community," he says.

A senior at Harvard University hoping to enter medical school, Jin has become the first undocumented student in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in U.S. history to be named a Rhodes Scholar.

He will study at the University of Oxford, building on his college and DACA experiences.

"Now I want to give back," he says. "I want to come back to the United States, maybe work in a public health department to create policies for undocumented immigrants and for immigrant health."

Jin and his parents moved here from South Korea when he was seven years old, and by no means takes the immigrant experience for granted.

"You learn this basic orientation to the world that your talents, they don't belong to you in the sense that a lot of people think it does, that you have to spread it around," he says. "And the fruits of your labor also have to be shared with other folks."

He is hoping to do two, maybe three years at Oxford and then wants to return to become a community doctor.

"If you give immigrants an opportunity, we are going to improve everything in America," he believes.

When President Trump moved to end DACA last year, many in the program were anxious. So Jin wants to concentrate on the larger immigration issue.

"That's where I want to keep the focus," he says. "Who is an American? I consider myself an American. Who belongs? Those questions."

And he sees this unique opportunity as part of his lifelong work.

"I'm going to spend the rest of my life really trying to live up to it," he says.


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