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The Scarlet & Black

Members of ’10.5 speak on post-graduation ambitions, Part II

At the age of 26, Chris Hwang ’10.5 is probably one of the oldest graduates Grinnell has seen—a super-super-super-senior.

“I took three years off after my junior year—came to Grinnell in 2003, left in 2006 and came back last fall,” Hwang said. “I was really unfocused before and I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. [By] taking three years off I was able to work and become a finance manager.”

Chris Hwang
Chris Hwang ’10.5 completes sets of pull-ups in the Athletic Center on campus in order to keep a sound mind and body - Daniel Penny

With the start of the recession, Hwang decided to go back to school and finish his degree.

Coming back to Grinnell after a break of three years was relatively easy from the administrative side. Hwang sent in a letter of intent to the Registrar, who, after a board meeting, let him know their decision to readmit him six weeks later.

“Except now they are thinking about adding a new rule [for readmission] that states you can take only a maximum of three years off because of my situation,” Hwang said.

Hwang felt odd returning to campus after such a long time off. Not only did the campus itself change in his time away, but so had the whole student body.

“Last year’s seniors, the Class of ’10, were prospies my junior year,” Hwang said.

The hiatus from college has not only giving Hwang some focus on finishing his degree and changing his major from mathematics to economics, but also on what to do post-graduation. Hwang declared economics as a major after having worked as a finance manager, applying his work experience to a major.

“One big thing about working with finances [is that] I found it really unsatisfying as to what I want to do with my life, so I am actually applying for the military to become an officer, a pilot hopefully,” Hwang said. “Right now I am looking at the Air Force and the Marines. I’d like to fly.”
Hwang added that his exam for a pilot license will be coming up in the near future.

“I hate to say this but besides Game Theory I don’t really have much interest in economics,” Hwang said. The military is something that has been a part of his life ever since he was a little kid. Born in South Korea, Hwang moved to the United States after his father was recruited from the Korean Army by the American Army.

“I grew up watching my dad perform drills, and grew up on military bases,” Hwang said.

The reason Hwang did not previously pursue a career in the military was not necessarily due to a lack of focus, but rather a more personal reason.

“I was in an engagement for a while and she was really against the military, and I broke up that engagement a couple of months ago and I figured I am still young enough to pursue a career path that I wanted to do since I was little,” Hwang said.

It feels odd to leave Grinnell after knowing members from the class of 2003 through the class of 2014, but besides taking away a degree, Hwang is also happy about the friendships he has made.

“I made a lot [of] better friends this time around,” Hwang said, stating that he is only in touch with a few students from his first go at Grinnell.

The one thing besides his Grinnellian friends that Hwang anticipates missing, however, is already gone.

I really miss the PEC right now. It was my home for when I used to swim,” he said.

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