By Betsy Simon
Mar 20, 2019
Like some of his students at Indiana State University, Jin Park didn’t know what to study when he entered college in his native South Korea.
He decided to earn his first bachelor’s degree in agriculture and had an opportunity to study English and learn about the American culture in the U.S., where he completed a second bachelor’s degree in business administration.
“The first work experience I had in the U.S. was for a small insurance agency as the office manager, helping sales agents with paperwork, underwriting, insurance applications and claims,” said Park, an associate professor of insurance and risk management at State. “I decided I needed to learn more about insurance, so I went to Minnesota State University to do my MBA and study insurance and risk management. That’s where I really developed the interest to take my studies further and decided to go for my PhD at Temple University.”
Park was intrigued by how insurance worked and benefited people in the U.S.
“Growing up in Korea, insurance was a luxury. People in the Asian culture are not actively preparing for death, so it’s a hard place to sell life insurance,” he said. “It was a cultural shock for me to learn that insurance is a necessity here, but as I worked with claims and helped clients and agents on my first job I realized how valuable insurance can be. I saw potential for insurance in Asian cultures, though I have not returned to my country.”
Instead, Park has spent the last 16 years teaching at the collegiate level. Before coming to Indiana State in 2009, he taught insurance and risk management at Illinois Wesleyan University for six years.
At State, Park teaches introduction to risk management, commercial property risk management insurance and employee benefits.
“I teach mostly undergraduate students, which is nice because they’re potentials. Insurance and risk management is not a subject that overlaps with a lot of subjects they’ve taken before and they come in thinking that they don’t know much about what my class is about,” he said. “But I tell them they’ve been practicing risk management. They’ve been maintaining good grades and talking to other students about what professors to take for different courses and that is all a part of risk management.”
Indiana State’s insurance program has been nationally recognized and was one of the first schools in the nation to offer insurance and risk management as a major. But Park often reminds people that insurance as a college major is not about sales.
“It’s about helping clients and businesses better manage their risk and insurance is a means to manage that risk,” he said.