Jin K. Park

jinJin K. Park was born in South Korea and is the first DACA recipient to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Growing up as an undocumented immigrant, he and his parents—a restaurant line cook and a beauty salon worker—had limited access to health care, and as a result, they would forgo treatment for both acute and chronic illnesses. For Jin, his parents, and the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States, knowing and understanding America to be their home would not be enough to secure access to health care or the ability to participate in the political process. These experiences imparted Jin with a deeply personal conviction that health care should be a right in the United States. Jin earned his AB in molecular and cellular biology from Harvard College, where his academic journey culminated in two senior theses, one of which won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize. He worked in the laboratory of Tyler Jacks, where he used genome engineering tools to improve the persistence and cytotoxicity of CD8 T cells in a mouse model of lung adenocarcinoma, which has led to multiple pending co-authorships on peer-reviewed publications. Outside of the college classroom, Jin taught English and American civics to Boston-area Chinese immigrants preparing for their naturalization exam through the Phillips Brooks House Association’s Chinatown Citizenship Program, eventually becoming the director of the program. Being a DACA recipient has played a pivotal role in Jin’s life. He has provided public testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives in support of legislation for Dreamers. In addition to contributing writing to CNN, The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jin is a plaintiff to litigation being heard in the federal judiciary which counters arguments that seek to end DACA for the more than 700,000 DACA recipients living in America. In 2019, Jin became the first DACA recipient to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

He has written opinion pieces on immigration for the New York Times and the Harvard Crimson and has appeared on MSNBC to discuss DACA legislation. He was the Managing Editor of the Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal and a research assistant at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT where he helped elucidate the mechanisms of T-cell exhaustion. 

Jin is currently a second-year medical student at Harvard Medical School. Ultimately, Jin seeks to build a career as an advocate for immigrant communities, and to provoke our governments to take immigrants’ rights and health seriously. Check out his latest piece he wrote for the Atlantic called "DACA Isn't What Made Me an American."