Where is an “American Dream” born?
Not always in the United States. Proof of that is evident in the growing number of Nyack’s international students who represent 57 countries in the population of nearly 2,000 students.
Tonight, at the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling hooding ceremony, Eunjoo Lee-Choi, who arrived in the States from Seoul, South Korea with her family at eight years old, will see part of her “American Dream” unfold.
After completing undergraduate studies in health science, Gina, as she is fondly known, took a gap year before pursuing a master’s degree. Her pastor’s suggestion of pastoral counseling studies was a partially accurate leading. Attending an Alliance Theological Seminary open house helped her gain clarity on next steps. The former youth minister sensed that counseling was in her future, but not seminary studies. During her search for counseling schools, she discovered that Nyack had just what she was looking for—the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling Mental Health Counseling degree program. Gina attended an AGSC open house in December 2017 and by January 2018, she was enrolled.
Gina’s current academic accomplishments may have the makings of an American dream, but she has not abandoned her roots.
“I love to watch Korean dramas and movies because it helps me stay connected to my Korean heritage and culture. I also like “touring” different cafes, especially ones with aesthetic decor, and trying Korean teas and desserts.”
Beginning with her mother, who she strives to emulate as a wife and future mother, other women she names as professional and personal role models are Dr. Antoinette Ginés-Rivera, AGSC dean and her administrative assistant Mrs. Pauline Anderson Brown. “Dr. Toni has taught me how to lead in love and vulnerability. Pauline truly led by example on how to serve and to do it effectively! She has a true servant’s heart!”
Gina also has deep admiration and respect for Dr. Eun-young Oh, a Korean psychiatrist who serves a broad spectrum of clients.
“To learn techniques that she utilizes in therapy, I watch her videos on her YouTube channel or TV shows that she hosts where she conducts group therapy,” says the servant leader who will begin her role this month as a resident hired by her internship site.
Gina currently lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, Isaac, (who she met at AGSC). Not surprisingly, her post-graduate plans are in the works. “In the state of Virginia upon completion of residency, I’d like to obtain my credentials as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I’m generally open to any client population, but I’d eventually like to be trained in play therapy to work with children.” Earning a Ph.D. in psychology is another goal on her radar.
Eunjoo Lee-Choi’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and earning honors with distinction is not the only takeaway from her alma mater. There are so many fond memories. “Nyack was not only a place where I studied and learned specific tools to sharpen me as a professional, but it’s also a place where I met brothers and sisters in Christ, colleagues, faculty, and staff, with whom I share the Kingdom perspective of mission work and making this world a better place for future generations.”
Her participation in Global Service-Learning courses—to Honduras with Dean Ginés-Rivera and to a Navajo reservation in Arizona with Dr. Elaine Eng, are just two of the 100 trips that Nyack has offered in more than 40 different countries. These life-transforming GS-L trips were experiences that helped her see the practicality of the theories taught in class.
As a department teaching assistant, she served as a liaison between students and faculty. Her role as a TA included managing a self-paced/online prerequisite course, Abnormal Psychology. This gave her the opportunity to advocate for prospective students, assuring them of the warm community of classmates and mentoring professors. She remembers being in their shoes.
Gina will never forget that 2017 AGSC open house.
“We opened up the time by praising God. There was such a diverse group of students, staff, and faculty in the room, and I was brought to tears when we began to sing in one voice—lifting praise to our Father in heaven.”
That’s the place where dreams, like Gina’s, are born.