Meet the new BAKSA

December 9, 2006

The Korean word for Doctor, as in one who has achieved a doctorate, is BAKSA, derived from the Chinese characters:

bak.jpgBAK and sa.jpgSA

BAK – means “to be complete and far-reaching” (the cross on the left means complete, or, to extend in all four directions; the stuff on the right… far reaching, trust me).

SA – composed of a cross (the character for ten) upon a stand (the character for one) means, “one who knows everything, from one to ten.”

So, a BAKSA, is one whose knowledge of everything, from one to ten, is complete and far-reaching.

I’m not sure if that’s the case with our superstar, Dominica, but she is without a doubt, the proud new Doctor of Philosphy in French Language and Literature. I’ve never personally seen a scholar work harder, go through more pain and suffering, deal with more obstacles, and overcome everything to persevere – and that was just in me helping her! KIDDING – good gravy.

Seriously, the tale is storybook. Her parents gave up so very much – her father – an executive position with a major, now world-famous, Korean conglomerate, her mother – a comfortable life as housewife of the executive salaryman – to make sure their children would have more opportunity specifically to study what and how they saw fit. In the past, she’s confessed that as a student in her very first years of French, she had dreams both minor, of one day proctoring her own French language exams, and grand, to craft and lead her own course on the literature of 19th c. France that intrigued her so much. She’s already accomplished both of these, and has now reached the summit of her student path. There is no further for the student to go.

So, what next?

You know…why don’t we get to that later, hey? If I’ve learned anything in either my youthful upbringin in the midwest or my adult upbringing in the far east, it’s that you should never, ever, ever make haste to rush beyond the glorious and fleeting moments of triumph that life so rarely offers.

So, for now, let’s just simply bask in the glow of someone we all respect and love so very, very much – to cherish and honor the incredible accomplishment of someone who has worked so hard, for so long, with so little to go on but her own drive to reach that goal she set for herself and that her parents dreamed of her achieving when they left Korea some 30 odd years ago.

Brava! and Man-se!


-my beloved –

Dr. Dominica Sung-hee Chang, Ph.D.



  1. Thank you, Matty – what a lovely thing to wake up and discover. 😀 Thank you, not only for the post, but for dealing with the extreme hardship (especially in your case!) of being a dissertator’s partner for all of these long years. Now, it’s my turn to return to favor. May your own path be smoother than mine!

    Thank you also and especially for acknowledging my parents. In those really dark moments, when it seemed like there was no possible way I could finish the dissertation, it was the thought of their many, many, many sacrifices that got me through.

    The actual defense was somewhat anticlimactic, since in theory your committee is not supposed to let you defend unless they think you will probably pass. However, I’ll never forget how wonderful it felt to call my parents and tell them I was f-i-n-a-l-l-y a doctor. Just those 5 minutes of hearing their voices mixed with sobs of relief, joy, and love made all of the past decade’s hardships worth it.

    And now, as you say… the future awaits, but we’ll take it as it comes, a day at a time.

    p.s. I’m mildly horrified that you outed my embarrassing undergraduate fantasy of proctoring a French language final exam! 😉

  2. so much love, and so deserved! you are a doctor now, can you write a prescription for me? mimicrex 500mg maybe?

  3. SA – composed of a cross (the character for ten) upon a stand (the character for one) means, “one who knows everything, from one to ten.”

    wow. awesome etymology .. and also, again, congrats Dominica!

    i promise to resist the urge to greet you with, “Dr. Chang, i presume?” q:

  4. I am in tears with happiness for you, Dominica, and your parents, too. You have sacrificed much yourself to achieve your goal. I’m so very happy for you and proud of you. Much love!

  5. Dr. Chang. Congratulations on your Phinally Done.

    I wish you the best of luck in your future career.

  6. Dear Husband of Dr. Dee,

    What great accomplishment. Education is a great thing, to be shared without being diminished. Dee has done a great thing in her arduous journey towards knowing more. You have helped and must share greatly in her accomplishment.

    See her and us soon. We are so very proud of both of you.

    This message late only to visit to cabin and bout with cold.



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