At the age of 4, Hojin Han immigrated with his family from South Korea to the United States. Speaking the only English words he knew, Hojin shouted “Hello America” as he stepped off the plane onto American soil for the first time.
Hojin’s mother and father, Mihyum Lee and Geun Jo Han, remember it clearly because Hojin would shout it loudly quite frequently in their recollection.
But as enthusiastic and determined as he was, Hojin faced a steep learning curve and the language barrier made it difficult for him to make friends when he entered school.
It was through ESL classes that Hojin began to flourish and gained confidence and friends. In elementary school, he translated for his parents and teacher at parent-teacher conferences, and he continually practiced his Korean at home. In college, he helped his mother communicate by writing emails and making phone calls on her behalf. In high school, Hojin’s strong language and communication skills were put to good use in the speech and debate team.
“I still think back to that experience I got with a smile,” Hojin said. “As an immigrant, I had to interact with people I would never have met otherwise. I have seen firsthand the difficulties that come with speaking English as a non-native speaker. But, even with these challenges, I have always seen that efforts pay off.
In 2019, Hojin applied to volunteer at Colorado Lions Camp. The camp’s mission is to provide programs for people with varying abilities to promote independence and challenge their abilities in a safe and supportive environment.
“It was in this camp that I really learned the importance of helping people,” Hojin said.
He also realized how small campers’ lives were when they were at home. Hojin reduced his sleep in order to be as available as possible for campers and to provide them with the perfect camp experience.
“Our world depends on connections to continue,” Hojin said. “Our place in the world is not limited to what we can do alone. Instead, it’s unlimited in what we can do together.
Hojin’s desire to help others found an outlet in his passion for cybersecurity. In 2020, Hojin joined MITER Corporation for a two-year internship where he developed software for space and cybersecurity. He even got security clearances to work on government-sponsored projects.
“When I inquired about the kinds of projects Hojin was responsible for during his internship,” recalls Stephanie Cornelio, career counselor at Pine Creek High School, “I met a respectful, ‘Ms. C., I am not allowed to share information about the projects I am working on during my internship.’”
“While other students in the senior class brag about their awards, Hojin is mature about his accolades in the field,” Cornelio said. “Hojin is compassionate and honorable and rules from a place of noble character… This kid is exactly who we want to lead in our country.”
Hojin committed to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.