Esther Kim '16: What Veteran's Day Means to Me

November 10, 2015

Esther Kim

We chatted with Esther about her life at Simmons -- and why Veteran's Day is so important.

What are you studying at Simmons?

I’m majoring in Library And Information Science (MS): Archives Management Concentration.

What drew you to your program?

I was interested in information organization -- but didn’t have a focused area I wanted to study. When I was researching schools, it seemed like no matter the concentration, the Simmons School of Library and Information Science outranked the other programs.

What's your favorite part of your program?

I really enjoy the internships and practical experience portions of the program. It’s a lot of work and the time commitment is definitely a challenge, but I've learned so much from the hands on experience and from the mentorship of my supervisors.

What's your favorite class you've taken so far at Simmons? Why?

LIS 440 Access and Use. My first year at Simmons was an onslaught of all the library and archival required courses, which can be overwhelming for someone with very little exposure to this world. I understood the value of each course as a stand-alone, but LIS 440 took everything I learned up to that point and merged them together. It was as if all the pieces of the library and information science puzzle connected with one another all to achieve one goal: access and use!

What made you join the Coast Guard?

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated high school, but I wanted it to have purpose. There is a humanitarian aspect of the Coast Guard’s missions that appealed to me. I put my application in not really knowing what I was signing up for and I can say now I’m really lucky to have been appointed to the Coast Guard Academy. My time in the Coast Guard has been such a blessing to me. I wish I knew then what I know now so I could fully appreciate what was happening.

What was a typical day like in the Coast Guard?

A typical day at my first unit on a Coast Guard Cutter consisted of trainings, drills and preparation. Looking back, everything we did in our spare time was to prepare for those moments when the only thing your mind could fall back on was the hours of training and drills.

Out at sea, the work day would start at 0800 but never really end. Some days, I might wake up at 2:30 a.m. to get ready for my 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. watch, go through a day of drills, training and more training, go to my second shift at 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., go to sleep and start all over again. There were other days when the alarm would ring in the middle of the night signaling a fire in the engine room or sightings of drug smugglers. When you’re able to wake up from a deep sleep and be fully capable of doing your job regardless of the situation, that’s the moment that all the training really pays off -- even if you show up with your shirt on backwards and shoes on the wrong feet. Not that that happened to me…

What made you make the move from the Coast Guard to Simmons?

I am so grateful for the opportunities that are available through the Coast Guard and I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to go back to school before I chickened out! It might sound funny, but there was a routine I fell into with the Coast Guard and going back to school terrified me. I had a lot of doubts on whether I could do this but I knew the longer I held off this decision, the harder it would become.

How has it been transitioning into life as a student?

It hasn’t been easy, but all the challenges involved are what I love about going back to school. This might be the last time in my life where the bulk of my responsibilities are to study and learn so I hope to make the most of it. Also, can’t complain about sleeping in on those days I don’t have class!

What does Veteran's Day mean to you?

To me Veteran’s Day takes the form of all my friends that have served and continue to serve in the Coast Guard and armed services. It reminds me of all the people who support the Coasties and armed services. I marched in a parade for Veterans’ Day a few years back and it was amazing to see all the people who took time out of their day to show their appreciation and support for us. I don’t think I could have gotten through my time in the Coast Guard without the help of my friends and family. It’s a day for gratitude.

What's your Simmons moment?

I had an opportunity to speak to a retired librarian from the Yale Library and I nerded out on her cataloging stories. When I mentioned I was a student at Simmons she nodded her head and said that it was a prestigious school in library science.

I imagine I stood a little taller. Simmons is tied to a very accomplished network of alumnae/i and we’ve had many come to campus to speak with students. There’s a reputation that’s been built by former graduates of my program and when I graduate I hope to further that reputation wherever I end up.