Dr. Hye Kwon
Brief Background: Until Portland, the longest I ever stayed in one place was ten years – both Chicago, IL, and Seoul, Korea, qualify as my second homes. I have been here for over fourteen years now, and it feels right to call it my primary home. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest the first time I moved here, and have not wanted to leave since.
I moved to Portland to work as a process engineer for Intel, until 2016. After leaving Intel, I took a year off and did some traveling, climbing, and soul-searching before deciding to attend law school. The choices I considered were: be a dirtbag climber living in a van; work as an engineer at another semiconductor company; or go to law school. I chose the last option because law seemed applicable to all aspects of life and it would broaden my options for a second career.
My 3 Favorite Activities:
1. Climbing: I fell in love with climbing about ten years ago. When work was intense and stressful, it provided a relief that I needed. It is like an active meditation for me, where my mind is focused only on what I am doing at the time. It takes me to beautiful places, and I have made some great friends through the activity.
2. Volunteering: I volunteer with a local climbing organization, where I teach climbing skills when I can. It feels great when I can share my passion with someone else who is experiencing it for the first time, and discovering how it fits into their lives.
3. Traveling: It will never be a full-time activity for me, and I have never felt as though I travelled often, but looking back, I am surprised at the places that I have been to. The type of travel I like to do usually is for a specific purpose and not for tourism – for the past ten years, most of my travels have happened with climbing in mind.
Why law school? Getting a Ph.D. and working in a specialized field for over a decade makes you an expert in a very small field. I felt that my options for careers were limited, without either more experience or education. I chose the latter, because I missed learning new ideas and felt that getting a law education would open up more career options.
Why Lewis & Clark? I liked the smaller student body at Lewis & Clark and liked the feeling of community that it provided. I have also lived in Portland for over a decade now, and have formed a community and life here. I wanted to keep the support system while I was in school.
Hardest thing about adjusting to law school: It has been a long time since I have been in a classroom, and one of the harder things for me was to get used to raising my hands and calling people by their surnames. In the science and engineering fields, first names are primarily used, and when you’re working, even during meetings, you hardly ever raise your hand to say something.
My Top 10 Favorite Things in Portland (in no particular order):
1. Forest Park (largest city park): a great place to hike or run
2. Powell’s Bookstore: a bookstore with used and new books, about the size of a block
3. Smith Rock (okay, about three hours away): outdoor sport climbing mecca
4. Mt. Hood: you can theoretically ski/snowboard there all year round, but I like climbing it
5. Coast: You can surf if you wear a wetsuit, but it’s too cold for a casual swim.
6. Boley Library Quiet Space: I have a hard time studying with noise, and appreciate the quiet space for reading and studying. You can also feel like you’re in nature with the windows, but without the rain.
7. Pok Pok: great street Thai place in Portland. It’s not really a secret, but it has stood the test of time.
8. Columbia Gorge: has great hiking places, though many are closed presently due to a recent fire.
9. Bend (about three hours away): a great outdoor mecca for climbing, skiing, mountain-biking.
10. Casualness of Portland: no one cares if you dress down, up, or in costumes in most places.