This year, Covenant College installed three new professors, one of whom is Dr. Jiewon Baek, assistant professor of foreign language. Baek currently teaches two sections of French 101 and one section of French 310, French Conversations.
Dr. Baek is originally from Seoul, South Korea, but calls Roanoke, Virginia her home. She earned her Bachelor’s in French and studio art from Emory and Henry and her Master’s in French and Francophone studies from Virginia Tech. She also achieved her Doctorate in French studies with a concentration in moving image studies from the University of Minnesota while simultaneously teaching there. She also spent two years in Paris, the first teaching and the second conducting research work.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Baek enjoys reading French philosophy, watching cinema, and, when she has a lot of free time, she likes to paint.
Although Dr. Baek has traveled to various different countries, Paris is a city she holds close in her heart. She even tries to go back every summer.
When asked about her transition to Covenant, Dr. Baek claimed it was “a long journey.” Dr. Baek reflects back to working on her Doctorate saying, “I had a certain picture in my head of where I would like to work, and in every single aspect, Covenant was the total opposite.”
Apparently, before Dr. Baek was even looking for a job, a good friend mentioned Covenant and how the college would be a perfect fit for her. Dr. Baek admits she scoffed at the idea of a small, liberal arts, Christian college. Yet, Dr. Baek stresses how God clearly had other plans because, when the announcement was released for a position at Covenant she said, “My mouth dropped open because the timing was incredible.”
She laid down her dream of living in New York City and moved to Chattanooga in June. Up until that point, she had held to her desire of being a Christian scholar who stands out in the secular academia, to which Covenant would offer no such challenge. Now, she explains, God is revealing how her plans could be fulfilled in ways she had not previously imagined; more and more, she is being exposed to how the Covenant community actively integrates scholarship and faith.
Additionally, she finds experiences in the classroom “tremendously freeing” by having the opportunity to discuss cultural study and questions of political and ethnic identity within a biblical framework.
Although Dr. Baek said she did not come here by choice, but directly through God’s will, her expectations about Covenant were exceeded. She quotes Ephesians 3:20, which states, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (ESV). What stands out to her about Covenant is how it is a place where believers, all part of local churches, come together to represent the bigger, global church body. Through Covenant, she’s learning how her scholarly studies can coincide with her faith in a way she could not have earlier conceived.