U.S. Educated Soonja Choe Is the New President of Inha University in Korea

ChoeSoonja Choe is the new president of Inha University in South Korea. She is the first woman president in the 61-year history of the university.

Dr. Choe grew up in poverty in Incheon, South Korea. Her mother never went to school and her father had only a grade school education. Her father died when she was 12 years old and her mother then raised five children alone.

Choe worked hard in high school and gained admission to Inha University’s chemical engineering program. She was one of two women among the 700 students in the discipline and the other woman dropped out during the first year. Choe persisted and earned a bachelor’s degree. With limited opportunities for women in industry, she taught chemistry to high school students for four years.

Choe then came to the United States to study chemical engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She earned a master’s degree and then received a scholarship for doctoral studies. She received a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1985, returned to Korea, and joined the faculty at Inha University in 1987.

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