Established in March of 2018, Rectory’s Emerging Leader Award is presented to a Rectory alumnus who is in the first five years of his or her career and has demonstrated inspiring leadership qualities, entrepreneurship, innovation, community involvement, and a commitment to others. This year’s recipient, Min Jae Yoo ‘09, was clearly destined for this award since the day we first met him as a twelve-year-old Grade 7 applicant.
When I think back to my life’s accomplishments prior to age 12, little comes to mind other than a little league baseball award in Grade 5. Min Jae, on the other hand, arrived on the Rectory campus with a three-page list of recognitions and awards that totaled over 60 entries and spanned all academic and athletic disciplines. The latter category even included acknowledgment of his expertise as a stand-out jump roper. His resumé accompanying this list identified the following personal strengths: enjoys teamwork, confident in leadership skills, strong determination, and a quick learner.
Min Jae also noted his life’s objective on the resumé: To be admitted as a 7th-grade student for educational and personal growth to…the Fay School. Fortunately, we took him anyway, and his early self-assessment has proven to be spot on across his subsequent school and professional years.
As Min Jae graduated from Rectory in 2009 and moved on to Phillips Andover Academy, he had already cemented his candidacy as an emerging leader. Academically, he was a top student taking the most rigorous classes and excelling. Athletically, he led his teams, even in sports new to him such as lacrosse. Artistically, he was an award-winning cellist. Socially, he was one of the most revered students on campus. Min Jae achieved similar levels of success at Andover where he was the first Asian student body vice-president and graduated cum laude. He enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management and Policy.
Across most of his school years, Min Jae’s professional objective was to be a doctor, but this thinking took a turn during his two-year military commitment to the South Korean army. For many South Koreans studying in the United States, the military obligation involves the comfortable task of working as a translator where strong English language skills are best utilized. Min Jae, however, wanted something different so he applied for entry to the Special Forces where he eventually reached the rank of Sergeant in the Airborne Brigade. After jumping out of planes for a while, Min Jae again got the itch to follow a new path, deciding to complete his tour of duty by volunteering as a Blue Beret in the United Nations Peace Keeping force in South Sudan.
Serving in South Sudan was not what Min Jae expected as the conditions for those living in the region were even more deplorable than he anticipated, and death surrounded him. In fact, one of his jobs as a peacekeeper was to take care of the corpses that appeared all too frequently. Recognizing vividly the scope and complexities of the problems in South Sudan, which included an Ebola outbreak while he was there, Min Jae wrestled with the ways one person can most impact health issues. A doctor will see a finite number of patients in a day, and that notion troubled him as he began to view health care in a whole different light. For Min Jae, the needs of people began to take priority over the well-being of an individual. As a result, his life’s original goal—to become a doctor—was supplanted by a new mission: to found the most successful private health care conglomerate in the world. Its goal would be to make health care affordable and accessible while partnering with governments to assure effective implementation and national support.
Min Jae currently furthers this work in earnest through his involvement with Merck, where he serves as a public policy specialist. Learning the intricacies of the global health care environment is an essential step towards his ultimate goal, and Min Jae is taking full advantage of the opportunity as he meets with senior executives and grows his understanding of the industry.
Min Jae credits Rectory for setting him on his current course. Min Jae remembers vividly receiving a citizenship award from Mr. Seaward in Grade 8 that had a profound effect on his sense of self and his purpose in life. In acknowledging Min Jae that memorable morning, Mr. Seaward walked to the podium, stood before the crowd, and uttered a recognition speech three words long. Those three words describing Min Jae were, “Simply the best.”
Some might respond to this impressive acknowledgement with hubris, but Min Jae took Mr. Seaward’s words as inspiration to focus constantly on improvement and striving to do better every day. In Headmaster Army’s end of trimester report, he wrote, “Min Jae has emerged as one of the school’s top scholars and a young man who can be counted on to lead his fellow students by the example of his commitment to character.” It is clear Mr. Army’s words are as true now as they were then. It is also evident that the best remains on the horizon for this emerging leader, whose talents and strength of character are only matched by his ambition to do good for others and improve our world. Congratulations, Min Jae Yoo.
- Emerging Leader