Jack Kent Cooke award to support graduate studies at Columbia for Bo Ra Kim ’14

Bo Ra Kim.

Bo Ra Kim ’14: scholar, activist and musician.

Bo Ra Kim ’14 of Seoul, Korea, has received a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship to fund her study of environmental economics at Columbia University.

Kim is among 41 scholarship recipients who will each receive up to $50,000 annually for graduate studies in the U.S. or abroad.

“I would like to either work as an environmental consultant, working to increase corporations’ environmental practices, or at the United Nations Environment Programme as a policy consultant,” says Kim, who double-majored in environmental studies and music at Bates.

Kim is clear about not only what she seeks to do with her life, but also how she aims to change the world around her. “I am incredibly passionate about mitigating climate change and adapting to the inevitable effects of the greenhouse gases that we have already emitted.”

The Bates environmental studies faculty helped Kim narrow down an intimidatingly large choice of specialties. “I was able to really explore different concentrations within the large topic of environmental studies,” she says. “Through taking classes in different disciplines, I was able to find my interest in environmental economics.”

Lynne Lewis, Elmer W. Campbell Professor of Economics, “did a wonderful job of supporting me and sparking my interest in this subject.” Kim adds. “She provided me many research opportunities and further grew my interest in environmental economics.”

Kim says, “Without this focus, I would not have thought that I wanted to work as an environmental or policy consultant.”

For her senior thesis in environmental studies, Kim investigated a topic related to Lewis’ research into contingent valuation, an economic technique for placing a value on resources, such as environmental quality, that don’t have conventional market value. This work, says Kim, “taught me a lot about data analysis through the application of concepts that I had learned in other classes. I understand regressions a lot more than I ever would have through just taking the econometrics class.

Kim’s interest in environmental studies is rivaled by her lifelong love of music.

“Music often is my stress reliever, because when I leave everything and go play the piano, violin or sing, I can get lost in it. That is one of the only times when my head is not swirling with thoughts of everything else I need to do.”

Her musical achievements include service as concert master of the Choate Rosemary Hall Chamber Orchestra and participation in a Grammy Award-winning recording by the Michigan State University Children’s Choir in 2006.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, established by a successful entrepreneur who regretted that his Depression-era upbringing prevented him from attending college, has been by Kim’s side since seventh grade, when she became a JKCF Young Scholar.

“The JKCF helped provide me with opportunities,” she explains. “They provided financial assistance for my musical activities, including violin and piano lessons, and choir.

“But I think that the most valuable aspect of this relationship was the guidance they provided. They advised me through boarding school applications and again through my college applications and choices. They did not just support me financially — they guided me through the challenges I faced in life.”

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