As a freshman at Harvard in 1990, I met Jen and Mina when my high school friend Ryan introduced us.  Jen and Mina already knew each other; they had met years before as 8th graders at a program called Johns Hopkins CTY (Center for Talented Youth), taking science classes together for three weeks over the summer.  Jen and Mina became fast friends, and their friendship grew throughout high school as they saw each other year after year at this CTY program.  Smart girls, Jen and Mina both got into Harvard.  And after freshman year, when it came time to choose roommates, Jen, Mina, and I became roommates, and I was welcomed into this little circle.  They were my best friends in college, they were bridesmaids at my wedding, they are still two of the best friends a person could have.  And if you trace it back, it kind of started at CTY.

When Dragon entered 9th grade, I started planning what he could do over the summer.  College applications are not far away for a 9th grader, and I wanted Dragon to have an intense academic experience at a place far from home, so that he could see and experience another part of the world.  Dragon studied for and took the ACT, and his scores qualified him for CTY.  CTY runs summer programs at various campuses across the U.S.  Dragon decided to take macro economics at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.  He was notified that a gentleman by the name of Jim Winters had sponsored a scholarship to encourage young people to study economics and finance, and we encouraged Dragon to apply.  While we in Seattle over Spring Break, Dragon received the good news that he had been selected to receive the scholarship.  He would be going to Johns Hopkins for three weeks, with part of his tuition paid for by the generosity of Mr. Jim Winters.

Dragon had an amazing experience at CTY.  He was in class seven hours a day, cramming a college economics course into a mere three weeks.  He worked his way through most of his college textbook.  And he thrived.  His final evaluation was everything we had hoped for, for Dragon, full of things we had been working with Dragon on for many years: speaking up in class, contributing to conversations, integrating real world experiences with classroom material, showing a real desire to learn.  In class, Dragon analyzed the domestic housing bubble and the Asian Financial Crisis of the 1990s. 2015 was the summer of the Greek financial crisis, and Dragon had learned enough economics to make an analogy likening Greece to his little sister: soft and pampered, and too used to getting her own way by people who coddled her.

I’m grateful to CTY for giving Dragon the closest experience to college he’s going to get.  He got to experience meeting a new roommate, cramming for class, doing his own laundry, staying up late with your hall mates, eating dorm food, making friends with people from around the country and around the world.  He was intellectually challenged in class, and rose to the challenge.  He hung out in common rooms playing music, in dorm rooms playing poker, and in the yard playing frisbee.  He asked a beautiful girl to the dance, she said yes, and at the end of summer, they promised to stay in touch.  He got to experience a lot.  He left home this summer a 9th grader.  He came back from Maryland a changed young man.

So you see, I feel like I owe a lot to CTY.  I got two of my best friends, who started their friendship when they were 14, at CTY.  My son died at 14, but through CTY, at least Dragon got to experience a little bit of college, a bit of the life he should have lead.  Those things, money can’t buy.  As they say in the commercial, those things are priceless.

But, money helps.  CTY costs over $4000 for a three week program, not including airfare.  This coming summer, through your help and generosity, The Dragon Kim Foundation will be funding up to four summer CTY scholarships to worthy students that otherwise might not be able to attend.  If your kids want to attend CTY and maybe even get a scholarship, applications are due March 31.  It is my hope that these Dragon Kim Foundation scholarships will help make the kind of summer experience possible, where emotionally and academically, life starts coming together.  Two scholarships — it’s a modest start, but it’s a step in the right direction.  Dragon would have been thrilled.