Meet Myung Park, Pierce’s new executive director of International Education

Myung Park for PenWhen she was a young girl growing up in Seoul, South Korea, Myung Park often pictured herself working in international relations. Fast-forward to her December arrival at Pierce College as the executive director of International Education, and it seems her childhood dream has come full circle — with Pierce gaining an innovative, proven leader in the process.

“International education is my passion, and I think it means more than concentrating on students. You have to figure faculty, the college, business partners and the community into that mix, too,” says Park, who holds an M.B.A. with an information systems emphasis from City University. She also is working toward a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Park lived that inclusive philosophy to its fullest extent in her previous job as the executive director for Global Programs and Partnerships at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. She was able to bring about $1 million in electronics equipment to her campus simply by asking if the manufacturer would let them have it — for free.

“We were on a governor’s trip in Korea, visiting two-year colleges, and I noticed the great electronics equipment students were using,” Park says. “We had been looking to upgrade our equipment at Lake Washington, but we hadn’t been able to finance it through our own budget or through the Legislature.”

She arranged to meet with the Korea-based manufacturer and simply asked if her institution could have $1 million-worth of electronics equipment for free. And the company agreed.

“The manufacturer had been hoping to gain a toehold in the American market, but the cost of establishing a lab facility in the United States was high,” Park says. “So we suggested that our school could provide facilities for a fully stocked electronics lab, in exchange for students being allowed to use it.”

And “just like that” — in truth, after a nearly three-year negotiation process — Park had scored a seven-figure victory for her campus that was destined to benefit the electronics manufacturer at least as much.

“I don’t give up once I start, and I’m not shy about asking for things for my students,” she says. “I plan to be just as creative in bringing resources to Pierce College.”

To Park, international education is not just about serving international students who come to the Pierce campus.

“We need to work at making the entire Pierce environment more global. We should be making more opportunities for our own students to learn overseas, and let them see how education and business and communities operate in other countries: what they’re doing right and better than we might be doing it here,” she says.

“But we can’t stop at the students — our faculty should be making similar connections,” Park adds. “And when Pierce College reaches out internationally, we should be building relationships not just with other colleges, but with business partners and communities, too.”

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