The President’s Note
Dear KACA members,
Greetings from Greenville! I hope this letter finds you all well. It is hard to believe that we are already done with the first quarter of 2023. My second year as a president is also halfway done! How was your first quarter of the year? The officials were busy with the membership drive; thank you for your prompt renewal of the membership this year. We have begun to talk about the leadership change, although we still have many things to get done until the transition in August.
The membership drive and election preparation suddenly make me look back on my time at the KACA. Let me share my story with you. I hope that my story will encourage many of you to engage, grow, and thrive with the KACA community in the upcoming years.
I was first introduced to the KACA session by a Korean friend at the ICA conference in Montreal, Canada, in 2008. Amid the hustle and bustle of the big conference, the KACA sessions provided me with a sort of relief. People were very kind, everything was good, and I filled out a membership application form. Nevertheless, I did not feel connected to the KACA immediately, thinking to myself, “Do I matter here in this group? Who cares? I am only a doctoral student. I have nothing to show off!” Perhaps, I was overwhelmed with many things like travel, presentations, networking, and job searching. I declined the invitation to the KACA student social. I simply chose not to engage.
Nine years passed. I was not an active member and even stayed away from the KACA until I accepted an invitation to the KACA-ICA committee in 2017. By then, traveling to and attending conferences was still fun and rewarding, but I always felt like I was a guest at the conferences. Joining the KACA-ICA committee changed my perception. I realized that there is a team on the host side of the conference that plans programs for each event. I helped the vice president prepare for the research session and business. We evaluated restaurants for holding a social event. When the conference was finished, we had a day tour in Prague. Several of the KACA-ICA committee members became research buddies. Such an experience gave me a different way to enjoy the conference.
Becoming the KACA-ICA vice-president in 2019 puts a heavier responsibility on my shoulder. My first challenge was to form my committee! I emailed several KACA members who came to mind. Most of them were those with whom I had only exchanged business cards! But sending emails somehow worked. (You can imagine how awkward our first meeting was!) But I was lucky to have wonderful team members. In the middle of preparations for the 2020 KACA-ICA program, we had to change all plans due to the COVID-19 lockdown. My committee members leaned on each other to get through the pandemic. It was quite challenging the first time, but we found online conferences opened a new opportunity for the KACA. The ICA, AEJMC, and NCA teams worked closely together to help one another more than before, which was possible because we were all online: no need to travel! The COVID-19 pandemic reminded me that, regardless of the format, a conference must be not only a venue where we nurture excellent scholarship, it must also create a caring community where we help each other grow professionally and personally.
In 2021, I was humbled to be elected as president of the KACA. Being the face of the organization required another level of commitment from me. While my previous role gave me specific, clearly defined assignments—get the KACA sessions done, build a team—the role of president led to new types of work—strategic planning, securing financial stability, human-resources management, and leadership. The role of president requires forward-looking, proactive thinking about who we are, what is our vision and mission, and in what direction we should head. Of course, the president is not the only one who makes these decisions for the KACA. Shared governance and the culture of collective ownership and accountability are the principles that I have strived to embed in our decision-making system.
The KACA continues to grow. Our officials work diligently to offer our members as many opportunities as possible through our daily tasks, regular business, and special programs. Our secretary diligently keeps our correspondence up to date. The teams on social media, newsletter, and website management promote various opportunities. Our treasurer and the membership chair keenly monitor our financial and membership stability throughout the year.
The KACA-ICA sessions are set to take place in Toronto, Canada, in May 2023. The preparations of the AEJMC and the NCA teams are also on track. 2022 KACA-KOFICE research-grant recipients were announced in early March this year. We are also thankful to continue the David Tae Yong Cho Memorial Scholarship for KACA student members. This year, we look forward to receiving applications for the Jae Won Lee Distinguished Service Awards (check the newsletter for more details). We are also grateful to the Office of International Education, SUNY-Buffalo; and the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations, University of Texas at Austin, for their generous sponsorship of our ICA and AEJMC programs, respectively. All these great programs would not have been possible without the commitment of our officials behind the scenes.
Back to my personal story: my past six years with the KACA have been the busiest but the most rewarding period of my academic life. My fellow committee members and officials have amazed me. Service at the KACA has taught me so many things that I would have not learned elsewhere regarding my profession in higher education. Above all, I become proud of who I am and what I do as a Korean communication scholar, educator, and leader.
I am still wondering about how things might be different if I had gone to the KACA graduate social gathering in 2008? What if I had engaged in the KACA programs earlier than in 2017? I imagine I would have enjoyed what I am enjoying now much earlier. So, I want to say, every one of you matters to the KACA. We want you to be a great part of this proud community. Grow with us. You can join at http://www.thekaca.org/membership/. Do you want to take one more step forward? Consider nominating yourself to one of the KACA official positions at the upcoming election in the summer.
There has never been a better time to join and serve our community than now.
Jin-Ae Kang, Ph.D.