English Student Union experience prepares SFU grad for future career

June 21, 2021

SFU grad Sun Woo Baik’s passion for post-secondary studies began early, but SFU truly became home for him when he joined the English Student Union (ESU). That experience, coupled with what he learned during his English major and print and digital publishing minor, has prepared him for his future career.

Baik enrolled at SFU, planning to major in sociology, but he took an introductory poetry course with Professor Michael Everton and changed his mind.

“Without my initial experience in Professor Everton’s class, I wouldn’t have gone into English,” he says. “I became deeply interested in close reading and writing as a craft and wanted to keep doing it.”

He enjoyed English so much, in fact, that he decided to join the honours program, also headed by Professor Everton. The challenging and intensive program kept Baik busy and he admits he was uninvolved in university life and felt somewhat isolated and disconnected from people outside his honours cohort.

In fall 2019, four years after he became an SFU student, Baik saw an ESU poster on Professor Everton’s door. He joined the group on a whim, hesitant to take on too much right away.

“Once I made friends with all the wonderful people there, though, I gradually started to do more,” Baik says. “It soon turned my university experience around.”

He actually took on four roles during his time with the ESU, including becoming its vice-president and co-social media coordinator. While Baik helped plan key in-person events like the FASS Formal, he made many great friends and valuable connections with people at SFU’s Arts Central and the Simon Fraser Student Society.

Then, when COVID-19 hit, he still managed to connect with others virtually through the ESU’s Instagram and its online events. As the pandemic has gone on, however, he admits that it has been a challenge to attract more than the usual core group of people to events, as many people are suffering from Zoom fatigue.

He has helped the ESU maintain a connection with its online audience with successful Instagram promotions, like its recent “self-care giveaway,” which encouraged students to take care of themselves during finals season.

All these experiences with the ESU have influenced Baik’s future career plans.

“Having volunteered and done events and promotions for the ESU, I really started to like event programming,” he says. “I now want to work in event or program planning for small, grassroots organizations that enrich the community.”

Baik has already started applying for positions like these, but he hasn’t ruled out a future in book publishing or returning to university to do a master’s in English. He credits the Department of English and the people in it for helping him get to where he is today.

“The community within my Department that welcomed me, helped me grow, and enthusiastically supported me through my degree helped me feel more confident that I can add value to my community too,” says Baik.