Welcome to Women in Politics: College Edition, where promising women leaders in student government on college and university campuses across the country will be featured on msnbc.com over the course of the year. Yoonjin Min has been nominated by Rice University as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.
As part of a new series at msnbc, “Women of 2014,” these hand-selected women become part of a larger discussion of women candidates and women’s issues on a national level. “Women of 2014” is a home for all women in politics – notably those in some of the year’s most pivotal races – with newsmaker interviews, profiles, photos, a Twitter trail following more than 35 candidates, and deep dives into the key conversations.
From the Ivy Leagues to the Big Ten to liberal arts colleges and beyond, young women are making a difference across the country – meet them here!
Name: Yoonjin Min
School: Rice University
Hometown: Clarksville, Maryland
Concentration: Cognitive Science & Economics
Dream job: Chief Strategy Officer
Class year: 2014
What is your biggest challenge as a leader on campus?
I've had the most difficulty dealing with student apathy on campus. Many times, students get caught up only in sensationalist topics - ones that generate drama and commotion on campus - instead of topics that truly affect their day-to-day living and academic experiences. When you are passionate about something, you naturally focus your energy toward it. Often, few people will match that enthusiasm because they haven't invested as much into any particular issue. It's hard personally to accept that, and stay driven despite it. This past year (as student body president) has been a lesson on creating buy-in from my peers. You have to be really intentional with the way you frame conversations to challenge longstanding apathy.
Which female leaders do you draw inspiration from?
I really admire Melinda Gates. I respect anyone who can take business acumen and strategic insight and apply it so effectively in the nonprofit world. For the most part, however, I am most inspired by the women that are around me - from the administrators and staff members I interact with at Rice to my mother. I enjoy being able to see the tangible impacts that they have in their respective communities in a way I can relate to.
What comes to mind first when you think about important moments in history?
Am I going back too far to say the creation of a written language? I think the intersection of linguistics research with theories about evolution and cognitive memory is fascinating.
What do you think should be President Obama’s No. 1 priority?
I think education reform is incredibly important. My father is a professor and my mom is a teacher, so education has always been valued in my family and I'm lucky for that. At Rice, we had a summer reading about the KIPP program our freshman year, which opened my eyes to widespread inequality regarding access to education. I strongly believe that education should not be a luxury, but that our current school systems do not provide the support and mentorship that they should.
What's your favorite romantic comedy with a strong female lead?
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com