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Oxford-Bound Student Majors in International Affairs, Masters Physics

May 9, 2014 – Andrew Choi (SFS’14) says one of his most memorable moments at Georgetown came less than two weeks before Commencement – getting his picture placed on the department of physics’ wall of majors.

“No one actually thought I was going to finish the equivalent of the degree in two years,” the Creskill, New Jersey, resident explained. “But just two days ago I had the privilege of … putting my picture up there.”

Choi is a science, technology and international affairs (STIA) major in the School of Foreign Service. In an unusual move, he added a full set of Georgetown College physics courses beginning in his junior year and will receive a certificate for having completed the physics concentration's requirements.

Told He Was Crazy

Professors were concerned that Choi would have trouble completing the physics requirements in only two years.

“I told him he was crazy, which probably just made him more determined to succeed,” says Amy Liu, a professor in the department of physics. “Two years later, after many late nights studying in the physics lounge, he has indeed succeeded in achieving this goal.”

Choi will head to Oxford University’s Saïd Business School on the Rev. Timothy S. Healy, S.J., Scholarship. He will spend a year there studying for his master’s in financial economics.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a good political background in the SFS and a science background in the College,” he said. “What’s missing for me I think is a good business background for what I want to do, which is get into the energy industry.”

Humble Roots

Choi was born in the South Korea but came to the United States when he was 7 years old with his brother after his mother was diagnosed with cancer and his father’s construction company went bankrupt.

After leaving the foster home, Choi lived with Catholic nuns and went on to earn a Jesuit education at Regis High School in New York.

His parents eventually moved to New Jersey to be closer to Choi and his brother.

Delving Into Nanoscience

There are 1.3 billion people in the world without electricity, and there are issues with environmental degradation, and I think it’s a challenge that Georgetown has led me to tackle."

Andrew Choi (SFS'14)

In January 2013, he joined the Georgetown Nanoscience and Microtechnology Lab (GNulab) as a research assistant, where he helped craft supercapacitors, energy storage devices for alternative energy applications, using ordinary paper.

Choi also worked in the lab of physics professor Makarand Paranjape where he helps develop nano-sized biodegradable polymers that can deliver medicine directly to the human eye.

“There are 1.3 billion people in the world without electricity, and there are issues with environmental degradation, and I think it’s a challenge that Georgetown has led me to tackle,” he said.

Talented Young Man

When he wasn’t studying, Choi immersed himself in the Catholic community on campus by playing piano for the Dahlgren Contemporary Choir.

“Andrew is an exceptionally talented young man,” said Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., Georgetown vice president of mission and ministry. “He is exceptionally gifted intellectually but that’s matched with a creativity that comes from deep within his heart. To see that combination in a young graduate truly makes me proud.”

Choi says he will miss the people in the diverse Georgetown community after he leaves campus.

“I’m in here in Dahlgren Chapel with the whole Catholic community and then the next thing ... I’m with a bunch of physics nerds in the lab,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity for me to take in all different types of viewpoints and grow.”

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