Su Ryeon Kang graduated from the MPS in Arts and Cultural Leadership program in 2023. She plans to continue her research on child-friendly cities and contribute to this work through sharing information and volunteering. Su recently presented this project at the Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts Conference in Lexington, KY. 

CCAPS: What did you study as an undergraduate?
Su Ryeon Kang: I pursued a double major during my undergraduate studies, focusing on both fashion and mass communication.

Tom Borrup and Su Ryeon Kang at the Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts Conference

CCAPS: Why did you decide to go to graduate school?
Su: I wanted to extend my professional expertise as a project manager and business specialist, specifically within the cinema and theme park industries. I aim to apply this knowledge at the community level to contribute to the creation of more inclusive and secure neighborhoods. (The ACL) program stood out, and it was the only one I applied to. I still remember the day I received the acceptance email, making it one of the most memorable moments in my life.

CCAPS: Have you always been interested in arts and culture?
Su: Absolutely, my passion for arts and culture has been a part of me since childhood. I loved drawing and creating things. My parents fostered this interest by taking our family on trips to various destinations like the sea, mountains, theme parks, and performance theaters. My choice to major in fashion during my undergraduate studies stemmed from my admiration for creative designers and the desire to be part of or support their work.

CCAPS: Can you talk a little bit about your final project?
Su: My studies centered around the concept of creating child-friendly cities, particularly from the perspective of discovering playful activities and spaces in urban environments. My final project revolved around the theme of creating child-friendly cities. My research question was, "How can residents foster child-friendly cities through built environments that are playful and stimulate children's imagination?" To answer this question, I conducted a case study, collecting data through interviews, surveys, and photographic analysis from three cases in the Twin Cities: Open Streets MPLS, St. Paul Play Streets, and MCM's Summer Block Party. My research highlighted the immense potential of residents and arts organizations in creating sustainable and inclusive urban play environments.

Also, my capstone project aligns closely with my work at the Minnesota Children's Museum. I serve as a board member and committee member of the Audience Insight & Experience Committee at the museum. Through my board experience, I've learned about the power of play and the significance of community engagement in children's development, which directly informs my role.

CCAPS: Which instructors or courses stood out?
Su: I've gained valuable insights from every instructor and course in the ACL program. I'd like to highlight Creative Entrepreneurship and Resource Development, which was my first experience in the program. This course helped me understand the significance of relevance and the impact of small actions. Additionally, the instructor Susan (Campion) went beyond the classroom, arranging a Zoom meeting where we discussed not only the class but also life in Minnesota. Thanks to her, I gained a deeper understanding of the context and background of George Floyd's tragic death and its repercussions in the Twin Cities. 

Another noteworthy experience was my final class, the Service Leadership and Board Practicum, where Instructor Anne (Jin Soo Preston) assisted me in joining the board at the Minnesota Children's Museum. 

CCAPS: What have been one or two major takeaways from the program?
Su: The most significant takeaways from the ACL program have been the value of mutual respect and connection. I've learned a great deal from my classmates and instructors about the immense potential that emerges when we respect and support each other. As an international student and newcomer, I feel fortunate to be part of the ACL program, where everyone I've met genuinely respects my culture and personality, making me feel like I belong in the Minnesota community.

CCAPS: What advice do you have for new ACL students?
Su: My advice to new ACL students is to approach the program with an open mind. The ACL program offers great resources, not just in terms of job opportunities but also in terms of human and academic resources. When I started the program, it was in the midst of the pandemic, with many opportunities available online. However, now you have access to resources in various forms. I believe that the ACL program will enable you to discover new opportunities and connect with exceptional individuals in the arts and cultural scene, much like my own amazing experience.


Top photo: Su presenting her capstone project, courtesy of Su Ryeon Kang
Middle photo: Director of Graduate Studies Tom Borrup and Su at the Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts Conference, courtesy of Tom Borrup