Margaret Yew Offered Fulbright Scholarship to Study in South Korea
Margaret Yew, a senior biochemistry major at Occidental College, has been offered a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year in South Korea exploring doctor-patient relationships and the role of plastic surgery in a Confucian society.
Revolutionary technological advances in the field of medicine have made one’s appearance a problem that the medical industry can ‘fix,’” Yew said. “I hope to construct a picture of how medicine in a Confucian society like South Korea impels women to emulate the ‘virtue’ of western beauty ideals as a form of social responsibility. Just how much the medical structures and philosophies in South Korea support these practices is the primary focus of my research.”
Yew, a 2000 graduate of Shoreline (Wash.) High School, will attend classes on medical law and ethics at Seoul National University School of Medicine, as well as courses in alternative medicine and anatomy at Ulsan Medical University. As part of her fieldwork, Yew, who plans to be a physician, will research organ transplantation at the Asan Medical Center.
“Margaret is one of those exceptional students who feels as comfortable writing an analysis of Korean War literature as investigating the genetic structure of a deadly bacterium,” said Morgan Pitelka, assistant professor of Asian studies. “This breadth makes her the ideal candidate for a Fulbright Scholarship, which recognizes not only excellence and achievement in a narrow academic field, but a humanistic concern with the diverse peoples and cultures of the world.”
Under the influence of Confucianism, many South Koreans hold education and the pursuit of knowledge as a moral priority, Yew said. “Consequently, people place a great deal of faith in science without considering the moral implications,” she added. “I hope to draw attention to the social repercussions of western influences in medicine by examining the unregulated use of plastic surgery advertisements. I hope that by meeting native Korean women who feel the need to enhance their body and others who do not, I will learn to understand different cultural perspectives and open my mind to the needs and roles of Korean women.”
Yew joins Occidental seniors Alexa Bisinger of Naperville, Ill., and Alani Price of Sagle, Idaho, in receiving a Fulbright Scholarship this year. This is the first time that three Occidental students have received the award – which covers travel, education and living expenses – in a single year. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.