after receiving the Samsung Ho-Am Prize 2.5 years ago (early 2021), i made a few small donations here and there; i donated approximately \$85,000 to KAIST to establish a small scholarship for female students in computer science in honour of my mom, \$85,000 to Soongsil University for my dad who since then has retired from Soongsil University after more than 30 years there as a professor of korean literature and language, €30,000 EUR to Aalto University’s computer science for establishing a small scholarship to support non-EU students, \$30,000 CAD to Mila, and \$50,000 USD to CIFAR for supporting female researchers and researchers from under-represented groups.
since then, a lot of have changed. the then-raging pandemic is largely behind us. Prescient Design, i co-founded at the very beginning of 2021, has been fully acquired by Genentech, and we have spent already two years as part of gRED. Putin started an unjustifiable and cruel war against Ukraine. Korea has a new president. my father retired after 30+ years of being a professor of korean literature and language. i served as a program chair of both NeurIPS and ICML. i finally saw mountain gorillas in the wild. i have graduated 11 PhD’s since June 2021. i am two years older than then, as does everyone else who was already born by then. i really can’t list all that happened, but so many infuriating, sad, happy and joyous moments have come and gone.
despite all these up’s and down’s, i want to make sure at least one thing about me stays constant; that is, i want to contribute however little i can to supporting education for the next generation of students by supporting higher-education institutes. to this cause, i’ve just made the following donations to my alma mater’s (though, it’s unclear whether a postdoc institute is considered alma mater):
- Mila: \$20,000 USD
- to support AI4Good Lab which is a 7-week program for women and under-served population in STEM with the skills to build ML projects.
- Aalto University: \$20,000 USD
- the first half to support Aalto Junior which offers art, science, technology and entrepreneurship for children, young people and teachers.; i was given a tour of Aalto Junior earlier this year, and could not have been more impressed by their programs and efforts.
- the other half to support various programs within Aalto at their discretion, including supporting the special course for rebuilding Ukraine hosted at the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture.
- KAIST: ₩15,000,000 KRW (approximately \$12,000 USD)
- to support building a scholarship at the School of Computing for students who are excluded from existing scholarship schemes due to various (often family and personal) reasons.
it’s much smaller than 2 years ago, and probably much smaller than how much i should donate and can afford to do so. but, i hope this compels me to do so more often in the future.
also, i’d like to ask my fellow alumni of these institutes and my colleagues to join me in supporting our colleagues, friends and family of the future for their education.