Scaling the impossibleJim Yong Kim, the 49-year-old Korean-born Harvard Medical School official who was recently appointed as the new president of Dartmouth College, is a figure who makes the impossible possible.
The first Korean-American to lead an Ivy League school, Kim shows that one’s passion and devotion can make a difference and transform the world.
Kim’s achievement is in developing a large-scale treatment program in the mid-1990s for treating tuberculosis resistant to standard drugs in poor countries such as Peru. Were it not for Kim and his medical team, many people in developing countries suffering from the disease would have had one less shot at hope.
Now, the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment program is treating patients in more than 40 developing nations around the globe.
Also, when Kim was appointed as the director of the HIV/AIDS department at the World Health Organization in 2004, he set a goal that by 2005, 3 million patients with HIV/AIDS would get proper treatment for their condition.
Back then, several million people in developing countries were dying every year from the disease without ever getting any treatment. While many people harbored doubts about Kim’s ambitious goals, Kim strongly believed that if there is treatment for tuberculosis, why not AIDS?
By 2005, around 1 million AIDS patients were able to receive better treatment, short of the 3 million goal and sufficient for Time magazine to select Kim as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Kim, the announcement from Dartmouth noted, “embodies the ideals of learning, innovation, and service that lie at the heart of Dartmouth’s mission,” and is expected to have a profound impact on students.
Kim said in his acceptance speech that every time in his career he had set bold and ambitious goals, people around him told him that it just couldn’t be done.
“If we teach nothing else at Dartmouth, we must teach our students to find their passion, to aim high ... work hard ... and settle for nothing less than to transform the world,” he urged.
It is impossible not to feel proud of Kim, a global leader with excellent achievements and virtues. While Kim is responsible for raising the next generation of leaders, this is also a challenge to the young Korean generation. We must learn from his leadership and share his passion.