Delegate Jueun Nam reflects on Girls State, her move to America
3 mins read

Delegate Jueun Nam reflects on Girls State, her move to America

By Kailey Jacobsen, Sacajawea Scroll

Many South Dakotans take pride in being born and raised in their home state. However, for one Girls State delegate, this is a second home.

Jueun Nam, a delegate from New York, was born in South Korea. She moved to America with her parents and older brother when she was six years old. They live in Sioux Falls and she attends Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School. 

When coming to Girls State, Nam had no intention for running for anything in the state election. While she did want to run for a city position, she wasn’t chosen for New York’s city council.

That is when her fellow New York delegates stepped in by electing her county treasurer. Nam was later elected as the 2018 Secretary of State.

The Nam family originally moved to Los Angeles, Calif., where her father planned to further his studies. He was later offered a job and they moved to South Dakota.

One difference Nam noted between the two countries is the culture.

“Here, it’s a lot easier to be yourself. In South Korea, if you don’t follow the trends you are seen as an outsider,” said Nam. 

Nam also said her biggest challenge while commuting to the U.S. is the cultural aspect.

Being raised in South Korea, it was hard for her parents to adjust to the U.S. Both of her parents speak Korean and what Nam calls “Broken English,” although they can get their point across.

“It’s hard to explain some things to my parents when it comes to doing things with my friends or extracurricular activities or coming to Girls State,” said Nam.

When offered the opportunity to come to Girls State, Nam didn’t hesitate.

After hearing stories from her older brother and his time at Boys State, Nam made the decision. It was something she wanted to do.

“She was a little timid at first and a little shy. But it did not take long for her to step out of her shell,” said Lizzie Spier, the New York senior counselor.

Nam’s friends had many similar things to say.

“She is just an all-around loving and kind person and she wasn’t afraid to step out of her comfort zone,” said New York City delegate Elise Etrheim. 

Nam’s roommate, Rachel Doll, agreed: “She is very enthusiastic and lively.”

Nam is also good at grabbing an audience’s attention and building off their energy to keep it cheerful and entertaining, as shown last night while helping to present her party’s platform.

At Nam’s high school, she is involved in activities like debate, orchestra and Distributive Education Clubs of America, where she acts at the vice president of finance.

She said her experience at Girls State has opened her up to new possibilities, such as potentially being involved in politics.

Since immigrating to the U.S., Nam says she has become more confident with herself.

“I’m really shy when I speak Korean, but when I speak English that’s something I am able to do,” Nam said.

Girls State also taught Nam to value others’ opinions more and to listen to what they had to say.