Promise Kim (LSA '21) is U-M's newest Yenching Academy Scholar! The Yenching Academy offers a 2-year Masters program in China Studies at Peking University in Beijing. As a college integrated within China’s leading university, The Yenching Academy prepares a diverse group of up to 150 exceptional international and Chinese students with the knowledge of China that they need to fulfill their potential as global citizens and leaders. 

Promise is an LSA History and Asian Studies (Korean Studies) major. She is a FLAS Summer Fellow (2021), FLAS Academic Fellow (2021-2022), as well as a Summer in Korea Scholarship recipient (2021), an Undergraduate Nam Center Research Fellow and was awarded the Collegiate Award at the Annual USC and UM Research Conference (2021).  

Born in Michigan, Promise lived in South Korea and China before returning to pursue her degree at the University of Michigan. As a Yenching scholar, she plans to make the most of this opportunity by contributing her unique background and experiences to the discourse of global leadership within the program and among her peers.

"While I am at Yenching, I will be focusing my research on the study of identity formation amongst TCK (Third Culture Kid) students in international schools. Upon completion of the Yenching program, my goal is to spend a few years working in international education systems in East Asia."

Promise intends to complete a Ph.D. in Education Leadership in America and return to China in the future as an administrator in international schools. 

Promise herself recognized the value of international education while living in three different countries: America, South Korea, and China and studying in several international schools.

"I was taught to be intellectually curious about how my studies could impact the world as a whole, rather than just my immediate surrounding culture." 

Attending The Yenching Academy offers her a chance to return to China with the intent to learn how to be a global leader within international education. While her interest and passion to study Chinese culture and language started early, she had several interruptions along the way.

"My diverse cultural background and passion to study Chinese culture and language were combined with my desire to breakground in the study of TCKs (Third Culture Kid) in international schools", says Promise. "All TCKs share the experience of spending part of their developmental years in a foreign country. I grew up struggling a lot with my cultural identity as a TCK and was aware of the growing number of people who also struggle with their TCK identity. Therefore, I wanted to return to China to study identity formation to help further the studies on TCKs."

Asked about her Yenching Academy application experience, Promise admits that she didn't expect to make it to the interview round of such a competitive opportunity. "However, I told myself that even if I didn't make it to the second round, I would enjoy the process of applying because it would only benefit me in the end. I challenged myself to see the application process as a great opportunity for me to learn more about myself." However, writing her personal statement and research proposal offered her a chance to reflect upon both her personal and academic life and experiences. Focusing on the reflective aspects of the application allowed her to challenge herself in a new way and, ultimately, enjoy the whole process. 

"For anyone who is hesitant about applying to anything, I would like to encourage them to try it and enjoy the process," offers Promise, "You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Regardless of the outcome, it will still be rewarding in the end because you are learning and reflecting on yourself."

Promise is very honored to continue the partnership between Yenching and UM (the last Yenching scholar from UM was in 2018) and is also very honored to represent the Asian American community as the first Yenching scholar from UM to be of Asian and Korean descent. 

Students interested in applying for U-M Nomination to The Yenching Academy can learn more here or email