Stanford Alumni United in Seoul

Many people have warm memories of their time in college, and I am no different.  So, when I was invited to attend a Stanford University alumni gathering here in Seoul, I gladly accepted.  I encountered an impressive mix of people, from recent graduates to former graduates who are now members of think tanks, the military, and even influential businesspeople.  Some were American, some Korean, and some Korean-American; as diverse as the Stanford main campus can be.

(from left) With Alex Kim and Jimi Kyuyoung Jung

It was a great event as it highlighted to me what Stanford graduates are doing in Korea.  They are involved in commercial projects and people-to-people activities and are important contributors to civil society.  Some of the people I met included Alex Kim, a former #1 ranked NCAA tennis player who is now here working with a sports marketing company.  I heard he used to play tennis with former Ambassador Kathleen Stephens here in Korea.  Another gentleman, Darren Lewis, is the founder of a company called FutureRetro.  I met two American alumni who are working at Korean high schools.  And in another example of what a small world it is, I met someone from my former first year dormitory.  We shared stories about some of our classmates, and it was fun just catching up with folks, some of whom were on campus the same time I was completing my bachelors and masters degrees at Stanford.  I majored in Political Science, received a Masters in International Policy Studies, and even studied in China under the Stanford-Beijing University study abroad program.  My college roommate, Brad Badger, played football at Stanford and went on to play for 11 seasons in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, and Arizona Cardinals.  He even got to play in a Super Bowl.   

Here I am wearing my vintage Stanford Starter jacket from the 1990s – I love this jacket.  So does Grigsby.  Go Stanford!

All of us in attendance shared a common bond of fond memories of Stanford.  Why does Stanford attract these individuals I wondered?  I think it is because it is uniquely situated geographically, a bridge to the Asia-Pacific region and to the East Coast.  Like many of our institutions of higher learning in the United States, Stanford is known for a culture of innovation, embraces diversity, promotes academic freedom and dialogue, and provides a well-rounded experience that involves a balance of academics and an array of extra-curricular activities.  More generally, our colleges and universities are one of the things that make the U.S. great and ties the U.S. with Korea.  There are currently 80,000 Korean students studying in the U.S. and they bring tremendous contributions to our academic communities.
During the evening, some people asked me about the status of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Korea.  I said that it is in excellent shape, a multi-faceted relationship that has turned into a global relationship.  Stanford’s well rounded students are actively contributing to these ties.  In fact, Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs Danny Russel just gave a speech about the U.S.-ROK relationship:

It was a great evening.  I look forward to attending future meetings and having more interaction with the alumni members.


  1. What a nice post! I was sorry to have missed the gathering--couldn't make it up from Busan on that day. Best wishes to the whole Lippert family here in Korea, and I look forward to future blog posts! 메리 크리스마스!

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