Paul Yoon and his family hail from South Korea. They moved to Torrance, California, when he was twelve and his sister, seven.
He recalls the transition as a challenging time when they struggled to make ends meet. By the time he was in high school, although he knew he wanted to go to college, it was also clear that he’d have to find his own way, financially. So, he set about exploring various financial aid options. His efforts paid off, and he was able to sustain himself through a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Biola University, and then a Master of Science in Marital and Family Therapy from the Fuller Theological Seminary.
He explains that another kind of help was also a key to his success in college—the support he received from professors who helped him realize that he truly had “the ability to thrive in the field of psychology.” He is especially grateful for the invaluable encouragement he got from his psychology instructors and the mentoring he received from an advanced statistics professor who gave generously of his time, “when it was most needed.”
In addition to the his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he also holds certifications in Crisis-Oriented Recovery Services and Seeking Safety, from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and a certification from the Positive Parenting Program of the University of Queensland, Australia.
Before joining HSF, he worked for seven years, as a bilingual therapist at a nonprofit agency in Koreatown Los Angeles. There, he specialized in treating depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, academic underachievement, and relationship problems. “I find joy in taking complex human emotions and relationships and transforming them into thriving energy for growth and harmony,” he said.
Today, as the director of HSF’s Scholar Advocacy Group, Paul is pleased to be able to use his mental health and client advocacy background to help ensure that HSF Scholars’ needs are met—from academic support and managing personal finances, to graduate school preparation, career planning, securing internships, and balancing family and academic priorities.
“HSF’s contribution to the future of this country is remarkable,” he said, “as it tremendously helps many brilliant students to be able to receive the type of quality education that will surely help this society progress.”
His advice for students who may face challenges like those he experienced: “Aim for courage and caution, at the same time. Go for it, first, because, as Hegel said, ‘education is the art of making man ethical.’ Yet, in order to succeed, students and parents should also have a realistic sense of the level of difficulty involved in completing a higher education, and be prepared to face—and actively deal with—the many challenges that may come their way, in the process.”