(Written By: Camille Hayes)
Service above self. That’s the motto Yvette Han lives by. Yvette came to the United States from South Korea in fourth grade. Being uprooted from her home and culture at such a young age meant she was bound to experience a number of obstacles in the U.S. She had her fair share, but what she wants for her future has nothing to do with herself and everything to do with others.
When Yvette came to America, she couldn’t speak English. She was the only Korean in her school. She dealt with racial ridicule and there was no one else in the same shoes. Hearing the questions about why she couldn’t speak English growing up has led Yvette to a working toward a goal she believes will end the normalized xenophobia in America: multilingualism.
Xenophobia is the dislike or prejudice against people from foreign nations. Yvette believes by learning multiple languages — and about multiple cultures — Americans can eradicate this fear and dislike that has become normal in many circles of our country. She has Korean and English under her belt, but she doesn’t want to stop there. Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Russian are also on her list.
Yvette has a passion for speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. Her ultimate goal is to become a pro bono lawyer representing immigrants denied legal rights because they cannot speak English. She will attend Harvard University to major in political science with a concentration in international affairs. While there, she hopes to use her SNF Scholarship money to fund study abroad trips to dive into different cultures and lifestyles.
Outside of academics and her passion for social justice, Yvette is the student body president of her high school, representing more than 2,000 students. She also plays in the orchestra, is a cheerleader and has spent time inventing musical instruments to accommodate people with disabilities.