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Looking back, looking forward

Senior Jubilee Cho explores her faith and social passions

Tess Harstrick, Editor-in-Chief
Originally published November 20, 2015

Photo Curtesy of the Cho FamilyJubilee, Trinity, Eugene, Minhee and Jedi Cho attend a benefit concert at their church. Eugene Cho is a senior pastor at the church. The Cho family has attended this church for the fourteen years. Jubilee Cho volunteer…

Photo Curtesy of the Cho Family

Jubilee, Trinity, Eugene, Minhee and Jedi Cho attend a benefit concert at their church. Eugene Cho is a senior pastor at the church. The Cho family has attended this church for the fourteen years. Jubilee Cho volunteers there weekly, leading worship for the younger members and attending youth group.

Senior Jubilee Cho is looking forward: to college, to moving away, to entering into a medical field of some kind.

Known for her kind demeanor and involvement in student activities, Cho values her Korean-American roots and foundations in the Christian faith. The daughter of a pastor and racial justice advocate, Cho is a member of eight clubs.

She is president of the Multicultural Committee, Key Club Secretary and a leader in Black Student Union (BSU). She’s also involved in Earth Service Corps, Students and Teachers Against Racism (STAR), Link Crew, National Honors Society (NHS) and Future Medical Professionals Club (FMP).

Of these, Cho values STAR, BSU and the Multicultural Committee the most. “I’m very passionate about racial justice and awareness about culture and diversity,” Cho said. “I think it’s important, since this school is a very white school to highlight minorities and also make sure that they feel comfortable in this space.”

Cho was raised in a family very concerned with social justice issues. Her father founded One Day’s Wages, a non-profit that focuses on alleviating global poverty. He also wrote One Day’s Wages: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than with Actually Changing it?, a book focusing on social justice. His work as a pastor has a huge influence on Cho as a person.

“We’ve been at the same church my whole life. I’m very close with my church, and I feel comfortable with being a Christian,” Cho said.

She, however, considers herself liberal; it is sometimes difficult to reconcile her religion with her political views. “I think one of the major issues that I get in arguments with my parents is about gay marriage, because they believe in gay rights but not [same-sex] marriage. I think being a liberal kind of gets in the way sometimes with my religious views, and my faith.”

Cho’s perception of her religion has shifted slightly, due to living in a liberal city and entering into a wider world of views not dictated by faith. “[Being a liberal] makes me kind of doubt my faith a lot,” Cho said. “I question my faith a lot, and I struggle with it.

Despite this, Cho wants to continue being Christian. “I feel like being raised in a Christian home makes it easier, because it’s more of a requirement. But I feel like once I go to college, since I’ll have more of a choice, we’ll see. I mostly hope I will continue to be religious so I don’t disappoint my parents.”

Recently, Cho herself has been praying less. Within her household, they pray before they eat and leave the house, however, this is mostly practiced by her parents. Cho’s two younger siblings, sophomore Trinity Cho, who is also a student at Ballard, and eighth grader Jedi Cho, who also follow their family’s religion.

Recognizing that she relies heavily on her family, both Cho and her parents think it’s time for her to move away. Cho hopes she will be able to attend college in California, preferably University of California, Berkeley or UCLA. “I’ve visited Berkeley twice and I fell in love with it both times. I don’t really know why I love it so much. I like the feel of it. I also toured UCLA, and that felt really good too,” she said.

As with many students, tuition fees could hold Cho back in terms of college choices. In-state tuition would be more manageable, and Cho sees UW as an option. She is also looking at Seattle Pacific University, though she isn’t very excited about this option.

She is sure, however, that she doesn’t want to go to a Christian school, as she wants to avoid a “little, isolated, closed-minded space.”

Cho hopes to pursue nursing in college, as she’s spent significant amounts of time in hospitals. If not nursing, she wants to study psychology.

Cho is optimistic about her chances at these schools, since she has good grades, though she worries about her test scores. Aside from the many school clubs she participates in, she is also very active at her church’s youth group.

“Youth group is a huge part of my life,” Cho said. A weekly attendee at church, she also leads worship for children and takes care of babies in the church nursery at times.

Cho cites her frequent interactions with younger students as the reason for the more childish aspects of herself. “I can be very mature, but I can also be very childish at times,” she said. Cho is a lover of Disney movies and cried during both “Big Hero 6” and “Inside Out.” As a Link Crew leader, Cho interacts a lot with freshmen, and her youth group is mostly comprised of middle schoolers.

Being Korean-American is very important to Cho. “I love being Korean-American. I don’t even know why. I’ve just been raised to love my culture,” she said.

Cho’s maternal grandmother still lives in South Korea, as well as her aunt. “I think the older I get, I understand more how hard it is for my mom. I was just so naive and ignorant as a child.” Her mother immigrated when she was 27, and had attended two schools in Korea. Her father moved when he was six.

The family tries to go back every three years, though flight prices are a constant concern. Her mother is able to return every year, in order to see her family. Cho hopes to spend a semester abroad in Korea.

Her father’s parents fled from North Korea before the country separated in 1945 because of the persecution they faced being Christian. Her family sticks close to their Korean traditions. They eat rice with at least one meal a day, and both her parents speak Korean. Korean was Cho’s first language, but she speaks very little, which she regrets.

Within school, Cho faces little discrimination based on race. Apart from occasionally getting confused by teachers with the other Asian girls in the room, Cho says most distinctions are “petty.” She has noticed that many of her other Asian friends are adopted and live with white parents, while she does not.

Looking forward, Cho hopes to stick to her roots while also gaining new experiences in dynamic communities.

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Looking back, looking forward