Philip Yun reflects on coming to the US as a “poor foreign student” chasing a dream. He overcame many obstacles including working hard to earn money to cover his tuition, while in school.
“Many people offered me their basement to live in, since I could not afford dorm or apartment rent. Fortunately, I graduated from my MBA program in one year while working a graveyard shift,” he said.
Yun, who is now anticipating his retirement, has been a certified public accountant (CPA) for four decades. In addition, he serves as an assistant pastor at Denver Dream Church and as an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary.
Yun is an Adjunct Professor at Denver Seminary
He came to the US in 1981 to study at Colorado State University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts (BA). In 1984, he received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Denver. He recently received his second masters degree in 2021 from the Denver Seminary. While he turns 68 years old in July, he noted that he will still be a student finishing his coursework and preparing his dissertation.
“When I got married in 1983, none of my family members could attend my wedding because they could not afford to travel from Korea,” he said.
It’s these experiences that have motivated him to want to help young people financially. As the president of Korean American Scholarship Foundation Mountain States Regional Chapter (KASF-MSRC), he was approached by the national KASF to establish a regional chapter that would serve Colorado New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming.
Yup graduates from the master’s program at Denver Seminary
“From 2019 to last year in 2022, we distributed $135,000 to Korean American high school and college students to help with their financial needs,” he said.
Sukie Kang, Scholarship Chair of KASF-MSRC said: “Because of Philip’s strong desire to provide cultural, educational and spiritual experiences to the community, he has devoted most of his life without asking for any rewards or financial compensation to improving the lives of underserved minorities.”
As the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Korean Language Schools, Yun believes it is important to continue learning and using the languages of our families in the US.
“It is the basis of maintaining our heritage and culture in this life and for the next generation to follow,” he said. “Some young generations try to deny their Asian heritage, but when we are accepted as who we are, we become most beautiful as one—Americans.”
In 2013, Yun was diagnosed with cancer and went into a coma for one week. His family members began planning for a funeral. However, in April 2014, he received a liver transplant he desperately needed.
“I was the ninth person in line that day, but none of the people ahead of me picked up the phone from the hospital,” he said.
“Luck? Maybe, but it was a blessing from God giving me another chance to think about the meaning of life.”
Yun is now an assistant pastor at the Denver Dream Church, where he says it is a “blessing to share the wisdom and revelation of God in Scripture” with the church congregation.
Additionally, he is a board member of international religious mission organizations, such as Marked Men for Christ and C-Connection, serving South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Championing a lifetime of giving back, Yun believes that helping others is a privilege and blessing in two ways.
He said: “First, be thankful for the position of giving (not receiving), and second, generosity is the only way to stay away from the sinful act of greed.”
When Yun was the advisory board chair of the Korean newspaper, Joongang Daily, he and the other directors selected two individuals to help each month by donating $500 to them.
“The money was not enough, but it gave them hope that there are people who care for and love them. That is what charity is all about. Without doubting how much small efforts help others, just do it,” he said.