NetKAL Fellow Jinha Park has a long history with the University of Southern California. Currently the Director of MRI and Radiology Research at City of Hope and Beckman Research Institute, he received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the USC Keck School of Medicine.
However, Jinha does not see himself as just being involved in medical care. “I see a broader need for policy change, community action and public health, particularly with Korean-American health issues,” he commented. “So when a friend approached me about joining NetKAL to gain leadership experience and broaden my network, I signed on with enthusiasm because this would be my chance to learn about areas outside of my profession.
The entire experience was new to me because I had never been exposed to any business, leadership or communications courses in my field of study. I had had a little experience working with hospital administration and there is a business aspect to the healthcare system, but NetKAL afforded me an opportunity to learn about how to propel yourself higher in your own workplace and to interact and communicate effectively with leaders in other fields. I absorbed everything like a sponge!”
One of the highlights of the program for him was the chance to bond and share with fellow Korean-Americans who had a similar background with regard to life and career. The commonality was extremely valuable as it reaffirmed for him that he was not alone in some of these struggles.
“Growing up Korean-American, there was an eagerness for our immigrant or first-generation parents to have us succeed,” recalls Jinha. “The environment was hyper-competitive and, for example, when the local Korean newspapers would showcase someone who was accepted to an Ivy League school or to Stanford then your parents would really put the pressure on you to do the same. So when we were in high school, all of the Korean-American kids were focused on competing with each other.
The message of NetKAL is different. It emphasizes that we all need to work together, get to know each other so we can help each other. That we have common, shared experiences and that networking with each other is of paramount importance. We no longer need to be competitive with each other, but should compete together to enable ourselves as a community.”
Class VII was the second of the NetKAL classes that incorporated a “group sharing” session into their program. It was an open forum format in a confined space where careful listening could be conducted. Each class member was given an opportunity to share anything they wanted, and most went far beyond talking about their professional aspirations. “It was deeply personal and emotional,” remarks Jinha. “People shared some of the psychological traumas that they had gone through as individuals and with their families, the trials in their personal lives and in their careers. Things that you need to work out in order to be successful. To be able to share all of this in a supportive setting was invaluable.”
Since completing the NetKAL program, Jinha has found that the leadership skills and guidance that he received as a member of Class VII has impacted his day-to-day work. He is less afraid to speak up about issues beyond his general scope of knowledge in clinical medicine or research and science. As a result of this personal empowerment he has taken on more administrative responsibility at his hospital and solely credits his NetKAL experience with instilling the confidence needed to successfully approach organizational management.
As an alum of the NetKAL Leadership Program, Jinha also feels strongly about giving back. “I want there to be a Class IX and, hopefully, a Class XXX. I think that this program is so worthwhile that I have given my own personal funding to help ensure that this happens. I have seen such tremendous personal and professional benefits in my life from having participated in Class VII, and as a community we should want to see this continue to expand and develop.”
Jinha Park has been a member of the NetKAL Alliance annual giving program for the past two years.