B.A., January 2007, Magna cum Laude
Accounting/Revival of the Secret Voice of Ancient Greek and Latin
Bakchik Goo was born in 1957 as the youngest of three children to a poor Korean family in rural Japan. His family later relocated to one of the major industrial cities. His father struggled at a variety of jobs: shipping fruit, dealing in shoes, selling watches on the street. To ease the burden on their parents, Goo and his brother spent summers on his grandparents’ farm where he learned to take care of piglets and chickens and dry tobacco leaves, and, as he says “learned the value of hard work.”
Goo began to learn English after his father gave him an English language children’s book obtained from an American missionary. He later attended public schools in Japan where drawing became his only interest. Later in Osaka, Goo became a “delinquent” in high school, where he was nearly expelled for fighting. He worked menial summer jobs, such as stacking boxes overnight in a refrigerated room at an ice cream factory. In 1978, Goo took a major leap and came to the United States, where his older brother, a physicist, had emigrated five years earlier.
In 1980, Goo registered at the College of Staten Island, and then transferred in 1981 to Hunter College, simultaneously enrolling in CUNY Baccalaureate. But facing financial difficulties around 1983, he lost his apartment. Luckily, a pastor whom he knew let him sleep in a church basement on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He borrowed a golden-colored sleeping bag from a classmate and laid it across six metal chairs. “It was the most unforgettable experience in my life, sleeping on metal chairs every night in the basement; I had to take a leave of absence from school.” At night, he searched the trash from delis for vegetables and fruit thrown out. He was losing weight and was down to about 89 pounds. “I was at the bottom of my life,” he recalled.
Enduring this experience, he said, he learned that there was nothing more to fear in life. It was about this time he met his wife, Nancy, another Hunter student, when he sat down next to her on a bus. He said he had very little to offer her at that time in his life. But, like a modern day Horatio Alger, he rebounded after landing a job as a waiter at a Japanese restaurant in New Jersey. He found a small room to let, and later worked at a Japanese securities company, where he prepared U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports. He returned to school to master accounting.
“In 2004, I assessed my life and decided not only to finish my educational goal but also to advance my education to a higher level. I have been focusing on three subjects unrelated by appearance: accounting, art, and Greek and Latin. Accounting is a subject which has been an on-going process to apply to my profession. My objective in this field is to advance my academic degrees towards a Ph.D.” Goo started out in the accounting and finance industry as an assistant manager at a Japanese trading company; today he is Vice President of Finance for the Mizuho Capital Markets Corporation.
“The third subject, Greek and Latin, was first introduced to me by my brother when I first came to America,” he says. “He wanted to implant in me the core essence of European culture, which I now deeply appreciate more and understand his intentions better as I have gotten older.” His brother played the harpsichord and pipe organ, and Mr. Goo, who also likes music, explored the sounds of Greek and Latin texts. He read aloud Ciceronian orations and Platonic dialogues and studied their intonation. During his studies Goo noticed some very specific patterns in Plato’s Symposium. His final thesis explored Plato’s use of pitch to disclose emotion. Goo graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in accounting and a near-perfect 3.9 in his classics area.
He and his wife are still married after 24 years and they have a daughter in high school.