Katherine Barone

Asia studies student chases her passion in Seoul

By

Rachel Bunning

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Katherine Barone, a graduating senior in Asia studies with a concentration in East Asia, always wanted to pursue higher education. The importance of college was always stressed to her from teachers as she grew up, but when she applied for college she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study.

She had always been interested in other cultures, geography and travelling, and as she got older, she became interested in anime and Chinese and Korean dramas.

“Through pop culture, I learned more about these cultures and their history,” said Barone. “I knew I wanted to take Korean as my foreign language and study Asian history. Once I found out that East Asian studies was a major, it was a no-brainer.”

Barone was able to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea, while completing her degree. At Yonsei University, she learned about Korean history and improved her Korean speaking skills.

“I know it sounds cliche, but if you have the opportunity to study abroad, you should definitely take it,” said Barone. “I also made a few lifelong friends while studying there.”

Now she is graduating, the first in her family to do so, from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies with a degree connected to her passions.

“Neither of my parents graduated from college as well, so getting the chance to not only attend, but graduate has meant a lot to my family,” said Barone.

ASU Now caught up with her to ask about her time at ASU.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: While at ASU I learned how to focus and set deadlines for myself. A lot of the courses I had to take as an East Asia studies major were only offered online. In order to keep from falling behind and still working hard on all my coursework, I’ve learned how to keep myself to a strict schedule in order to get everything completed on time between my in-person and online classes, while also allotting time for myself to relax and have fun with friends.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I was born and raised in Tempe. As a local, ASU is the goal for a lot of students, I think.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Sookja Cho from the School of International Letters and Cultures was one of my favorite professors I had while at ASU. Her “Women of Korea” class has been the most interesting class I’ve taken at ASU and the class I’ve learned the most from. I remember in one meeting we had in her office she told me that I had a lot of potential if I worked a little harder. She knew I was invested in the class and absorbing the information, but that same level of dedication wasn’t coming through in my paper. That was when I decided to buckle down and keep a schedule for myself.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My best piece of advice would be to try taking an online class. Do it in your first year if you can. A lot of people find out that they don’t do well with online learning, because they have trouble with time management or they just learn better in a physical classroom. That preference isn’t a bad thing, but it is better to learn that lesson before you need to take a rigorous eight-week 400-level course. Though after this pandemic, I feel like a lot of people will be pretty well-versed with online learning.

Q: Where was your favorite spot on campus?

A: My favorite place to study on campus was definitely Hayden Library. I didn’t get much opportunity to enjoy the new renovations they completed unfortunately.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If I received $40 million dollars to solve one problem on our planet I think I would donate to different women’s foundations around the world. The push for gender equality needs to be supported not only here in the U.S., but around the world. Being able to give girls the chance to get an education that they would not have been able to afford otherwise is something I would love to do. But I would also be sure to donate to organizations like the Butterfly Fund in Seoul that financially helps former comfort women. I would want women of all ages and all backgrounds to benefit from this $40 million.