Student Spotlight: Tulane University’s Gabriel June Choi

Tell us about what you’re up to!
I took the least amount of classes while I was abroad to travel and, in general, to relax. Now I am swamped with all these graduation requirement classes. On top of that, the pressure to enjoy myself as a senior in college takes so much of focus away from academia. I mean, am I really going to pick up my business law textbook and head to the library on Friday when the rest of New Orleans already started drinking?

What’s the best thing about your school?
The fact that it is located in New Orleans. The city keeps me entertained constantly through music, cultures, food, and history. The Mardi Gras parade route- St. Charles- is right in our front yard. The campus is surrounded by so many different bars, restaurants, and shops, you will never be bored.

You want to go to oyster happy hour to get a dozen for $6? Superior Seafood is right down the street. Feeling a gourmet hot dog with fries smothered in crawfish etouffee? Let’s bike to Datdog. How about a donut stuffed with so much peanut butter, it oozes out of all different holes? District Donut it is! Literally, the options are endless. But it isn’t just for students either.

My mom loves to come to New Orleans to “visit” me, but really, she just want to go antique shopping in French Quarter and enjoy the tastiest gumbo our humanity has to offer. The jazz music that resonates through the Frenchman Street even makes my mom dance- a sight as rare as seeing Sasquatch. Only at Tulane, only in New Orleans.


Give a little description of your background (where did you grow up, etc.).
I was born in Tempe, Arizona while my dad was pursuing his Ph.D. in engineering at Arizona State University. As the youngest of three, I was constantly toyed around by my brother and sister who are six and five years older than I am.

My family all moved back to South Korea as soon as my dad finished his degree program. I was then just two months old. We moved around quite a bit once we arrived in South Korea because of the 1997-1998 financial crisis, resulting in job insecurity for my parents. We finally settled down in Busan where I would finish elementary and middle school.

In 2007, my dad, now a professor in South Korea, took his sabbatical leave at Oregon State University. I followed him out of curiosity to see what the world has to offer. Beaten from the rigorous school and private lesson schedule in South Korea, I couldn’t have been happier to attend an American high school where I could study and play sports at a reasonable pace. I ended up extending my stay and finished high school in Oregon. Then it was time for me to go to college. After visiting a several different places, I found my new home at Tulane University in New Orleans.


Your go-to food place: What is your best student-budget recipe?
Felipe’s Taqueria is a Mexican food restaurant just five minutes walking distance from my house. My go-to-order is always a super burrito with chicken, black beans, guacamole with extra jalapeños. A couple days ago, a sudden adventurous spirit struck me, so I ordered a chimichanga. Suffice to say I was thoroughly disappointed. On Fridays, Felipe’s offers $3 margarita specials, so it is a great way to start off the weekend- burrito and margarita… who doesn’t enjoy that lethal combo?

What has been your favorite memory so far?
In the recent times, one memory stands out. I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Brazil just in time for the World Cup. Since 2002, going to another World Cup has always been my dream. My brother also flew across the globe to cheer on our boys in red with me. I suited up in my dad’s old han-bok from my parents’ wedding and went to a match between South Korea and Belgium in São Paulo. South Korea ended up losing 1-0 to the short-handed Belgian squad.

Now, it always confused me when I watched grown-up men crying at a sports event. At the end of the match, all the Koreans were singing Arirang together, and Son Heung-Min, the player who had nothing to be ashamed of in the tournament, was bawling his eyes out. I was also extremely angry at the uninspiring performance from some of the Korean players. All those emotions- nostalgia, homesickness, pity, and anger- poured out at once. I started to weep. That moment to me was special because it reminded me how passionate I am about soccer.

I believe being passionate about anything is important because it gives a meaning to our lives. Although our boys got knocked out in the first round, the Brazil World Cup 2014 will always be one of my favorite memories.


If you could sum up your life as a student in three words, they would be…
How can I?

Is there anywhere in the world where you’d want to study abroad? Where is it, and why?
I would love to go study abroad in New Zealand. I hear they have tasty meat and beautiful nature to explore to shed weights from eating so much meat.

What song is representative of your life right now?
We Dem Boyz by Wiz Khalifa

What was the last book you read…for fun?
L.A. Son written by Roy Choi. If you see this Roy, give me a shoutout!


If you would like to participate in KoreAm U’s Student Spotlight feature, you can find more information here. Alumni, we have something for you too!