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This is a story of Jin Kyu Robertson who has come a long way since she immigrated to the United States as a housemaid at age of 22.

This is a story of Jin Kyu Robertson who has come a long way since she immigrated to the United States as a housemaid at age of 22. Since then, she rose to the rank of major in the U.S. Army and completed a doctorate at Harvard University.

Jin Robertson says she had inauspicious beginnings, but her story depicts the power of perseverance. She was the child of a tavern owner, and neither of her parents ever attended school. Jin had excelled in her academics by the sixth grade, and her parents consented to let her finish middle and high school. She couldn't afford college, so she worked as a server and a housemaid at a factory. She came across an advertisement in the newspaper for a housemaid in America one day. Despite her family's refusal, she applied for the position.


"I was 22 years old, and I didn't speak much English at all," she exclaimed. "And I had only $100 to my name, so that was my beginning, and a one-way ticket. So it was quite a challenge, I suppose."

Unfortunately, when she arrived in New York, the position she had applied for had already been filled, but she found employment as a waitress and subsequently as a hostess at a Jewish restaurant in the financial sector.

New York Nyc- New York City America Pixabay.com

"So what I did was, I practiced the words, like 'good morning,' 'good afternoon,' 'this way please,' and 'enjoy your meal,' and those were all the words you needed," she said. "And 'thank you.' I can say that. So I practiced that and I started working as a hostess down in Wall Street." Little more than 10 years later, Jin was a U.S. army officer stationed in Germany, overseeing 50 soldiers, and marveling at how far she had come in her life.

Robertson realized early on that education was the key to her ambitions. While working in New York, she began college. She also met and married a man, but the marriage was problematic, so she escaped by entering the army. Her English was poor and she was 10 years older than most of the other recruits. Basic training was grueling, but she persevered and finished first in her class. The Army allowed her to continue her college studies and she would eventually become an officer.

She discovered other prospects in the military and sought one she felt would be ideal for an Asian immigrant. The Army hires regional specialists known as foreign area officers, and one was needed in Japan. She applied but was turned down. That, she claims, did not deter her.

"Many cases, when someone turns you down, they just accept it, grumble and angry and accept it, and then go for some other route," she said. "But I liked the program. I wanted the program so bad, so I went to Washington D.C., the decision-makers, and I asked them, why was I turned down?"

She says Army officials worried a woman officer would face problems in a male-oriented country like Japan. She disputed the idea and asked if Japanese officials looked down on Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Britain. Of course not, was the reply. "So it took me one day, and they reversed the decision," she explained.


U.S Army Robertson claims she has always tackled her flaws head-on.Wikimedia commons

Robertson represented the U.S. Army as liaison to the Japanese Self Defence Forces, the first woman to hold that position. She also maintained her concentration on education. She earned a master's degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University and is now enrolled in a Ph.D. program focused on US-Korea-Japan ties. She returned to Harvard to complete her Ph.D. after retiring from the Army with the rank of Major.

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Robertson claims she has always tackled her flaws head-on. She was frightened of heights, so she signed up for an Army Airborne program that required her to parachute from a helicopter. She began receiving invitations to deliver motivational talks after completing her degree.

"I didn't know I was able to speak in public, really," she remarked. "Always, whenever I thought about speaking, even giving briefings in the military, my heart was pounding so badly and I was so nervous, I couldn't even drink water."

She says again she persevered, and found her confidence growing as the audience responded."I found this amazing great exhilarating feeling, and I said, wow, I love this public speaking," she revealed. Jin Robertson considers parenting her daughter, Jasmin, to be one of her finest achievements. Jasmin, a Harvard graduate, has followed in her mother's footsteps and is now a captain in the United States Army. (VOA/JC)

(This article is a rehash from Voice of America)


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