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December 8, 2021
  • Chin Sik and Hyun Sook Chung

Dr. Chin Sik Chung was one of the first professors to come aboard when the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa established its school of public health. His work at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland brought him and his wife Hyun Sook, both originally from Korea, to the islands a few years before for a short research project, and “they fell in love with Hawai‘i,” says their daughter Joyce Chung. “The culture, the climate, the people: everything about it. So when an opportunity opened up to be a part of the school of public health’s founding in 1965, they jumped at the chance and never looked back. He helped build the school from the ground up and devoted his career to it. He loved the school and he loved Hawai‘i.

The value of education

Hyun Sook Chung was also an educator, teaching courses in English as a second language at Heald College. “It was unusual in those days for a woman to pursue higher education at all, let alone overseas,” says Joyce, “but my mother had the courage and confidence to major in English, as a non-native English speaker. She was never afraid of a challenge like that, and she turned it into helping international students coming to the U.S. to build a career and to better themselves. She and my dad instilled in us the importance and value of a good education.”

When their parents passed in 2009, Joyce and her brothers Daniel and Raymond established the Chin Sik and Hyun Sook Chung Memorial Award, to recognize their parents’ contributions and to encourage international travel among students. Their parents each came to the U.S. from Korea on government-sponsored scholarships providing education to young, promising students. Joyce says, “They wouldn’t have had opportunities to study—and to raise their family—in America without scholarships.

"This fund honors the things that were important to them: students traveling internationally, opening doors and building bridges.”

Impact on countless students

“Over time the lessons and values we learned from my parents continued to grow and my husband and I wanted to honor their life’s work in a meaningful way. We decided an endowed chair named after my mom and dad would be an enduring symbol and legacy to recognize them, while helping Public Health in Mānoa continue and strengthen the important work they do.”

Tetine Sentell, director of UH Mānoa’s Office of Public Health Studies, says, “We are honored and excited about the Chin Sik and Hyun Sook Chung Endowed Chair in Public Health Studies, our first endowed faculty position! This tremendously generous gift from the Chung family continues Dr. Chung’s remarkable legacy: his impact on countless students and the field of public health in the state of Hawai‘i and beyond. It will promote a spirit of deep mentorship and community-relevant public health, roles Dr. Chung played throughout his career. These issues are more urgent in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic.”

The endowment bolsters recruitment and retention of highest-caliber faculty in Public Health Studies, with a focus on environmental health research.

In the spirit of bettering our world

“We are at a moment when the environmental stakes are so high right now,” says Joyce. “It’s not just a question of losing species or land; it’s about human health and human survival. This link is not always so obvious, and we should recognize how our oceans, our livelihood, the food we eat and the air we breathe impacts everybody. Hawai‘i is unique because of its exposure to the natural resources and how directly they impact people.”

Her parents’ dedication to education and research enhanced lives, says Joyce. “We would love to see this continue. I know the world evolves and changes, but to continue pursuit of whatever is at the forefront, in the spirit of bettering our world—the environment and people, the animals and nature and everything—will preserve their memory.

“This is what they valued. Taking care of one another. Giving and humility. Education and making yourself better. Loving others and the world around us.”

Dr. Chin Sik Chung and Mrs. Hyun Sook Chung Daniel Chung, Tetine Sentell, Joyce Chung and Raymond Chung

Daniel Chung, Tetine Sentell, Joyce Chung and Raymond Chung

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.