Despite the growing pains of trial and error, many people remain firm in their decision to make a change. To be a pioneer in their fields, they strive day in and day out. The 243rd edition of the Sungshin Mirror introduces four female protagonists of 2020 from different countries and diverse career realms, wishing them to be 2021 inspirations for the readers.
Jeong Eun-kyeong : The Virus Hunter of South Korea
Starting from the first female chief of Korea’s Center for Disease Control, Jeong Eun-Kyeong is now the first Commissioner of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). With a calm but resolute response to disease prevention, Jeong has been receiving international appreciation as a virus-hunter. She acquired her degree in the faculty of Medicine and studied Public Health and Preventive Medicine in graduate school. Since she started her career as a public health researcher in 1998, she has been walking the sole pathway of prevention health care as a public health and disease expert. When she was faced with MERS in 2015, however, Jeong failed to control the spread of disease. Due to her failure, she received crowds’ rebuke and received disciplinary action. But reflecting from this misstep, she geared up with 24-hour emergency situation room to surveil on all time virus spread out and provided standard order procedures (SOP) for the cities to follow, reporting the respective numbers of infectees and their travel history every time. Her grinding led South Korea to become a well-known country with high public health organizing system and even the new word ‘K-prevention’ is coined and widely used recently. She once said “The trust of people and leadership in medical health care comes from the professionality of KDCA.” From her remarkable performance in her area, her humbleness and professionality are the key factors of success even during the chaos of the pandemic.
Katalin Karikó : Lighthouse of mRNA Research
Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó saved the world with a small genetic molecule. Designated as a pioneer of Covid-19 vaccine, she spent her entire life as a scientist researching on mRNA. mRNA or messenger Ribonucleic acid is just as critical as DNA, carries the genetic code from DNA in a cell’s nucleus to ribosomes for protein synthesis. It is now introduced as a groundbreaking foothold material for COVID-19 vaccine. Karikó majored in biology in Hungary then she moved to America to start her career as a scientist. Karikó and her colleagues were immersed in mRNA experimentation, but the team was disorganized due to lack of funding, since the field of mRNA was too niche at that time. But with her indomitable spirit, she continued researching on mRNA together with Drew Weissman who was working on an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) vaccine. They co-worked to overcome the inflammatory response caused by mRNA inoculation. In 2010, the American researchers founded a company known as BioNTech acquiring the rights to the Karikó and Weissman’s mRNA vaccine patents. By exploiting their license, they developed the Moderna and BioNTech vaccines and received 94 percent of efficacy and now they are busily inoculating the global population. For 40 years of delving deeply into unchosen topic, Karikó blazed a trail on a new field of therapies not only for vaccines but also cancer and strokes. Now she is suggested as a Nobel prize winner, recognized as a major contributor and a change-maker in the field of science.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Paragon of Young Politician
Known as the youngest representative of New York’s Queens and Bronx, Alexandria got a spotlight as a vibrant future of US politics. Though she has a relatively short career compared to the other veteran politicians, she confidently appeals herself as an immigrant, labor class, racial minority and women to the public. AOC (short form of her name) is referred to a minor candidate, but she is a symbol of progressive politics who grabs the attention and interests of supporters from both the Democratic and the Republican party. For her districts, she made several commitments: helped raise money for a trans-youth supporting organization, supported the government workers during shutdown due to the pandemic and showed ardent speech regarding the Green New Deal plans, highlighting the economic and environmental values. Furthermore, starring on the Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House” with other three female candidates of 2018, she showed her competence and confidence as a politician, being an inspiration to the female youths. Her professionality is greatly valued because of her direct participation and interaction with the people. She truly sympathizes and apprehends what her citizens fundamentally need. Through her multifarious ongoing careers as a congresswoman, the New York Times evaluated that she will be the senator, mayor and even run for vice president of US, underlining her potential.
Alicia Garza: Pioneer of Black Lives Matter Movement
An innocent man’s death by the police brutality sparked a huge riot in the States. Everyone grieved for the loss of George Floyd. To adjust to these social problems, Alicia Garza, an American civil rights activist, has been remembering the bygone victims of the racial injustice through the campaign Black Lives Matter. She uploaded the first #BlackLivesMatter on Facebook in 2012 to commemorate the teenager Trayvon Martin’s undeserving death. Co-working with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, three activists strived for several years to make the hashtag movement reach to be a global phenomenon. Other than racial issues, Garza also covers a various range of issues such as health, student services, rights for domestic workers, anti-racism, ending police brutality, transgender, to rectify social injustice. She now directs Special Projects at the National Domestic Workers Alliance and serves as the Principal at the Black Futures Lab, a community for strengthening black communities.
From the stories of four females, it is apparent that being a forerunner is rigorous but worthwhile. Rather than being trapped in the past like a prisoner, we all should be pioneers of the future.
By Chaiwon Kim Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org)