Meet a Retriever—Hyojin Choi, psychology and social work major and student leader

Published: May 2, 2024

Meet Hyojin Choi, a double major in psychology and social work at UMBC at The Universities at Shady Grove. A transfer student, Hyojin is an active member of the peer advisory team and president of the Psychology Student Associationall while also serving as a social work intern at the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County, Maryland. In fact, he looks forward to working there after graduation. Take it away, Hyojin!

Q: What do you love about your internship?

A: As an intern at HOC, I have learned much about how housing works in the United States and the many challenges people face while trying to remain housed. I have had to make some tough choices. I have also had the privilege of working with the Tobytown community, which HOC works with. It is a predominantly African-American, older community with a lot of history. It has been such an honor to meet and get to know the residents and hear their stories.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you find here?

A: We get a lot of support from our professors at USG. All the professors I have had have an open-door policy regarding their offices. They also make it clear that they can be contacted via email and are very responsive. Professors are always open to hearing about how we are doing, well after we finish the courses they teach. You can tell they want us to succeed as the next generation of social workers.  

Q: What’s it like at the Shady Grove campus?

A: I love that UMBC at Shady Grove is where you see the same people in almost all your classes. It allows us to get to know the other students and foster lifelong friendships. My two closest friends are alumni of the social work program at Shady Grove. And I have built so many lasting connections with other students that don’t happen at other universities. We all go through courses and the internship process together and eventually apply to graduate school together. We are together for the very high and very low stressful times. But through it all, we know that other people are going through the exact same thing, which helps. The diversity of people also creates diversity in dialogues–for example, in my social policy courses. Those two classes have had some of the most lively (but respectful) dialogues on hot-button issues.

A group of students enjoys snacks in a classroom
Students enjoy a Social Work Student Association/Psychology Student Association Halloween event at UMBC Shady Grove.

Q: Tell us about your journey to UMBC Shady Grove and how you’ve been supported along the way. 

A: I came to UMBC because of the small class sizes and the passion of the people within the social work department. Students here want to learn; and I’ve found community in the close-relationships I have formed with my peers. As a social work student, I have met so many people that I have built lifelong friendships with. The professors have been nothing but professional, personable, passionate, driven, welcoming, and inclusive to students of all backgrounds.

The people I have met in my classes have driven me so much. They are part of the reason why I love to study to UMBC. I always feel that every class is a chance to learn something I did not know before. I believe that my time at UMBC has taught me to be an advocate for myself and for others. Currently, I am working to advocate for the UMBC-Shady Grove students to make improvements in areas where there may be some shortcomings.

Whenever there is a chance to learn something new or expand your horizonstake it. You never know where it could lead you.

Hyojin Choi

UMBC Shady Grove psychology and social work major

Q: How else are you involved on campus?

A: I am a member of the Peer Advisory Team (PAT) since 2022 at UMBC-Shady Grove. I have loved the opportunity to meet with prospective students. It gives such a unique insight into the minds of the incoming transfer students and allows me to really connect and meet people from other majors who I would otherwise not have had the chance to meet. I am also the president of the Psychology Student Association. As the president of the PSA, I have met a lot of students. We also get to work with other student organizations on our campus, and we collaborated for a special holiday event last year in 2023.

A student stands beneath a tree and looks at the water
Enjoying the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Q: What advice would you give to future Retrievers?

A: Always take opportunities to learn and lead. Whenever there is a chance to learn something new or expand your horizonstake it. You never know where it could lead you. It may end up changing you life in ways that you could never have foreseen in a million years.

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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.

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