Mason Korea senior bridges her American and Korean identities through marketing


Lucy Hong moved to the United States when she was 10 years old. What was meant to be a three-month experience over the summer became a decade abroad in Northern Virginia, thousands of miles away from her family in South Korea.

Lucy Hong in traditional Korean dress
Business major Lucy Hong. Photo provided

Having a strong interest in art from a young age, Hong chose to go to Virginia Commonwealth University to major in fashion merchandising after graduating from St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly. However, when the pandemic hit in 2020, Hong, like many international students, was asked to return to her home country. Reluctantly heading back to South Korea, she worried about how to continue her college education, knowing that Korean universities were not an option.

“It felt like starting from zero,” she said, looking back to the day she arrived in South Korea. “I felt really lonely and anxious if I could make new friends in this transition.”

Discovering Mason Korea was the answer to her fears. It provided an American college setting that she was familiar with, and having high school friends who went to George Mason for college, she was already well acquainted with the university.

She noted how it was easier to connect with friends who had similar backgrounds as she did, those who lived or studied abroad for multiple years. While it required a cultural adjustment, soon enough she also made friends who did not have a similar background, who had lived their whole lives in South Korea.

“The cultural setting that Mason Korea provided saved me from feeling lost,” she said. “I soon made lifelong friends through the community and even met back up with Mason Korea students in Fairfax.” 

She also decided to move away from fashion merchandising and found a middle ground in marketing, which helped her bring her original interests to an area of UX design and expand her knowledge background in consumer trends. During her time at Mason Korea, Hong found she was able to connect with faculty members, talk in class, and get to know them at a personal level.

With support from professors and staff, she was able to win a business pitch competition for the beauty industry and launched an online clothing brand that reinterprets American fashion in Korea by using her UI/UX design and market research skills.

Now a senior, Hong is finishing her first semester at the Fairfax Campus this spring, part of a two-semester sequence in Fairfax that all Mason Korea students include in their four-year plan. Looking toward graduation in the winter, she is excited to see the future unfold and hopes to get a job in the United States.

“Mason Korea helped me see that I can keep my American identity and even bridge my Korean identity with my experience abroad,” she said. “I hope to share this unique perspective professionally through my work and the ideas it can provide.”