TROY a family learning experience for alumna Nam

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., with alumna Suyoung Nam and her children Jisu and Jason.

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., with alumna Suyoung Nam and her children Jisu and Jason.

Ask Suyoung Nam about her TROY experience, and she’ll tell you what the last year and a half has been like for her and her family. “It has been like a dream,” she said.

For the past 17 months, the native of Busan, South Korea, has studied on the Troy Campus and worked toward completing her master’s degree in second language instruction. Now, with degree in hand, Nam will return to South Korea to continue her work as a middle school English teacher.

Not only did Nam spend her time at TROY adding value to her degree, but she also brought her two children, Jason, 8, and Jisu, 11, to provide them with opportunities to improve their English as well as experience American culture.

Dr. Hawkins shakes hands with 8-year-old Jason Nam.
Dr. Hawkins shakes hands with 8-year-old Jason Nam.

After watching their mother graduate with her master’s degree, Jisu and Jason shared dreams that were in some ways shaped by their time spent at TROY. Jisu is interested in science and has a desire to become a college professor, and Jason has decided he wants to be a Chancellor when he grows up. Catching word of Jason’s future ambitions, Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., took the time to meet with the Nam family before they returned home to Busan.

During their visit, Jason asked Chancellor Hawkins about leadership and his day-to-day responsibilities. He asked what it takes to become a chancellor. Dr. Hawkins told the young chancellor hopeful that “it takes a willingness to serve, placing high value on academics, managing your resources well and working hard” to lead a successful university.

The meeting she and her children shared with Chancellor Hawkins is just one of the many examples of how the University and city of Troy exceeded her expectations. The TROY graduate said she was pleasantly surprised by the warm reception and treatment she and children received within the Troy community. “Parents and teachers [in Troy] are very intentional in guiding children,” she said. “They spend quality time with kids to focus not only on education, but on what’s really important—character and values. Here, raising children is a community effort.”

Nam said she’s grateful for TROY’s global vision because it was through partnerships with international universities that she learned of TROY.During her family’s time in Troy, Nam tutored fellow students in ESL and participated in everything the city and University communities had to offer. Her family attended international student and community events and participated in a local church where they joined a weekly small group Bible study for young families.

Nam said she was surprised that TROY professors were genuinely interested in getting to know students and providing holistic support—not just in academics. She said Dr. Natalie Henderson, her advisor, provided academic counseling and reassurance for her as her family adjusted to life in Troy. “She was one of the most enthusiastic and inspiring teachers I’ve ever met,” she said.

Another of Nam’s professors, Dr. Teresa Johnson, also made a strong impression on her. “Dr. Johnson has such a warm personality and had us laughing often,” she said. “She shared examples from her experiences in the classroom, and I learned much about teaching philosophy from her.” she said. “I am anxious to use some new techniques with my students when I return.”

As a student within TROY’s SLI program, Nam researched different approaches for students learning English and said she discovered that a more student-centered learning environment can lead to deeper comprehension. This kind of student engagement also provides opportunities for more creative expression and self-discovery.

Nam is excited to see TROY’s international presence expand and she promised her family would be lifelong ambassadors for TROY in Korea.