Your dreams. Our mission.
Ellen Jin Paik
“I like it here (at MassBay). At first it was hard because I was away from school for a long time, being a mom. Suddenly my brain had to work. But I’m getting more confident now. I think I can do it now, and actually, studying is fun for me!”
Hometown: Wayland via Seoul, South Korea
Interest: Associate Degree in Radiologic Technology
When Ellen Jin Paik came to America 20 years ago, she spoke little English and had no confidence that she could go out and get a job. After the Great Recession of 2008 threatened the economic vitality of her family, however, she realized she needed to find work anyplace she could. Today, at age 48 she is attending MassBay with a career goal in mind: to become a radiologic technologist.
It was on a blind date in 1992 in Seoul, South Korea that Ellen met an American businessman who would become her husband. The couple settled in Wayland, Massachusetts, and after a few years welcomed two children to the family. Ellen’s husband was a successful software engineer, while Ellen did odd jobs for her father-in-law to earn a little income. Her primary role at the time, however, was as a mother and homemaker.
Everything changed for the family in 2008 when the Great Recession hit hard. Her husband lost his job when his company outsourced much of its workforce, so despite no college degree, Ellen knew she had to go find work anywhere she could find it.
“I had no education, no career,” says Ellen. “I went out and found jobs wherever I could. I washed dishes, worked at a supermarket, and was a cashier at a gas station for a while.”
She had been taking free English classes sponsored by the Framingham Public Library, which were held on MassBay’s Framingham campus. She also found inexpensive GED classes through the library as well. In 2012, she earned a Certified Nurse Assistant certificate from a for-profit institution based in Framingham. The credential helped her get a job as a home health aide before she found her current job at a health care center in Framingham.
“I realized the job market in the health care field is better than most others,” she says. “Despite the financial crisis, it seems the health care field is still an area where people can find work.”
Because she had spent time on the Framingham campus, and at the recommendation of the teachers she met through the Framingham Public Library programs, Ellen decided to enroll at MassBay in the fall of 2013. She started out in the Associate Degree in Nursing program, but she is switching to the Radiologic Technology program in the spring.
It has been an adjustment for Ellen, coming back to school after nearly three decades. She is taking three classes this semester, including an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. Her biology class has proven to be a challenge as well.
“When I first started biology I thought I was going to have to drop it,” Ellen says. “It was like I was trying to learn a new language. But I spoke to the professor, and she encouraged me to stay in the class. I have been working harder, and I caught on. I’m doing okay in the class now.” Ellen has enjoyed being at MassBay. “So far, so good,” she says.
“I like it here. At first it was hard because I was away from school for a long time, being a mom,” she says. “Suddenly my brain had to work. But I’m getting more confident now. I think I can do it now, and actually, studying is fun for me!”
Ellen Jin Paik is returning to school after 30 years. A mother of two and an immigrant from South Korea, she is pursuing her Associate Degree in Radiologic Technology and intends to become a radiologic technologist.