Friday, July 29, 2016

What ever happened to Alyssa Donovan?

In July 2011, I wrote THIS SHORT POST about a young woman named Alyssa Donovan, who had just won second place in a Korean speech contest hosted by the U.S. National Association for Korean Schools. At the time, she was a sophomore in a high school in Maine, where she graduated Salutatorian in 2013. (See high school bio HERE.) I wrote the post after reading an article about her accomplishment in the English-language version of  "The Donga Ilbo" entitled "American teen places 2nd in Korean speech contest." I even found a video of her Korean speech on YouTube, which I have posted below.

Anyway, tonight I accidently came across my old 2011 post and began to wonder what happened to Alyssa Donovan, so I did some Google searches and found out that she got a Bachelor's degree in "Korean for Professionals" in a program called "Korean Language Flagship" at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the same school from which I received my BA in Korean Language and Literature way back in 1982. However, when I went to the University of Hawaii, I could barely speak Korean, so Alyssa had a big advantage over me. Moreover, Alyssa's program included a year of studying aboard at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, where she also worked as an intern at the King Sejong Institute Foundation. Since Alyssa graduated high school in 2013, to have already received a Bachelor's degree in just three years means she used her time well at the University of Hawaii, probably taking advantage of the summer courses offered there.

So what is Alyssa doing now? Well, judging from a kind of online resume HERE, she is still in South Korea, where she seems to be trying to work, at least part time, as a Korean-English translator for what looks like very reasonable rates. Hopefully, she is doing more than just translating because, from my experience, translators work too hard for the money they earn. Of course, now they have a variety of online dictionaries and software that can help them.

In 2011, Alyssa was already very good in Korean, so I can only imagine how good she is now, especially being as motivated as she is. If I were Alyssa, I would try to get a job using my language skills working for the US government, if she has not already, because it is a lot easier than working as a freelance translator. Or she might make a great Korean language teacher. At any rate, whatever Alyssa decides to do, I wish her the best of luck.

Here is Alyssa, as a high school sophomore, giving her prize-winning, Korean-language speech in 2011:


  1. Hi, Gerry. This is Alyssa. What a coincidence that we both went to UH! Thanks for writing this. I have indeed graduated, but I have since moved back to the States from Korea and am possibly about to make it big as a translation contractor for a Fortune 500 company. I'm interested in connecting with you.

    1. Hi, Alyssa. I was very impressed with your speech, and when I read that you knew you wanted to go to the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa, even while still in high school, it reminded me of myself in a way.

      Though I did not decide to go to UH until after I had spent four years in the navy, UH was really the only school to which I wanted to go because it was one of the only schools, or maybe the only school, in the US at the time that offered a Bachelor's degree in Korean Language & Literature. Actually their BA degree was in a kind of development stage, pieced together under the title of "Liberal Studies." My degree, for example, reads "Liberal Studies (Korean Language and Literature). When I graduated in 1982, I was told I was the first to get such a degree at UH.

      I am glad to hear that you are on the verge of achieving the kind of career you have been dreaming about for many years. I used to have a very similar dream, so I think I have a little understanding of the excitement you must be feeling. I wish you the best of luck, and you can always contact me at the email address in my profile. Gerry


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