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Hayeon Na

There she is, digging through her worm-compost bin in the kitchen of her Forest Hills apartment, half an hour away from her school. Hayeon, an international student and a presidential scholar in pharmacy at St.John’s University, not only grows tomatoes, strawberries and various other fruits and vegetables in her small one-bedroom apartment, but also composts all of her kitchen scraps, makes soymilk, brews kombucha, and makes her own kimchi.

This eco-friendly 19 year old loves to farm, cook, and eat responsibly — and of course, her favorite section in the New York Times is the Wednesday dining section. However, she is by no means a stay-at-home-cooking kind of a girl. As a former varsity cheerleader and the only harpist at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan, she is an aspiring pharmacy student with a stunning GPA, and also a member of the honors program at her favorite Catholic University, the one she calls home.

She loves the beautifully maintained campus in the privacy of Queens, but still enjoys going out to Manhattan three, four times a week: this past week, she visited Yoga to the People for free yoga at St. Mark’s Place, shopped at the Union Square Farmer’s Market for local vegetables, attended a concert at the Bitter End, a famous nightclub in Greenwich village where famous singers like Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, and Lady Gaga played, and went to Lincoln Center to see the Metropolitan Opera production of the Magic Flute, courtesy of the University honors program.

A few of her favorite things about the St. John’s University honors program are the complementary show tickets, smaller classes, approachable faculty, and the friendly classmates. She believes that by keeping the honors classes smaller in size, the school enables interactive discussion based learning which increases the rate at which the students learn tremendously.

“Not only the honors program helped me learn better and meet my best friends, it also landed me a job!” she jokes. She was hired by the University Writing Center this spring with the recommendation letters from Dr. Murray and Dr. Forman, the director of the honors program. She loves helping the clients develop their writings and genuinely enjoys working with the friendly colleagues. The fact that she is one of the two rare pharmacy majors at the Writing Center and that she moved from South Korea at the age of fourteen with very limited skills in English surprises most people with whom she talks—she sounds like a native. She proudly goes on to say that now she is fluent in both English and Korean, and has been studying Spanish since 2004. This busy and extremely able young woman works about 8 hours a week, all the while leaving enough time to be the group leader in all of her class assignments. “I love taking charge, starting new projects, and getting things done.”

Maybe this attitude led her to apply for the pharmacy Study Abroad program. Of course she was accepted, and now she plans to live in Salamanca, Paris, and Rome for four weeks each all the while taking the required courses for the 2011 spring semester.

“I love it here. St. John’s has presented many opportunities that I would never have dreamed of. I’m unimaginably busy right now, but it’s a happy-kind-of busy,” says she. And from the looks of it, she will be busy for another six years, living sustainably, working at the writing center, going to concerts, and otherwise completing her Pharm. D. right here in her beloved Queens, New York.