Spotlight: Zachary Horne


Zachary with Korean instructor in Seoul, Korea

College is a rare time in a person’s life. As a student, you focus; as a budding individual, you explore and discover. Zachary Horne, the first Korean language student to be nominated for the CSLC Spotlight, came to Notre Dame for the competitive business school. Though he tested out of Notre Dame’s foreign language requirement, he decided to add Korean to his demanding slate. “I had the opportunity to take it [Korean] here. Why the heck not! Now I love it,” exclaims Horne. Hailing from Plano, Texas, Horne is the only non-native speaker in his Korean classes. Being a little behind his classmates linguistically, however, only pushes him to try harder. Currently, the Texas native is taking the bull by the horns by actively getting involved in the Korean community at Notre Dame. He has some hip-hop moves lined up for this year's Seoul'd Out event at Notre Dame. Moreover, since there is no Korean major at Notre Dame, Horne, who is studying finance (major) and Korean (minor), is currently working with Dr. Yeonhee Yoon in an effort to expand Korean from a minor to a major. Horne has discovered a passion in Korean, and he’s all in. This is why Dr. Yoon nominated Horne to be the March Spotlight.

Projects and Goals

What would you like to do and where would you like to be in 3-5 years?
I plan to obtain a business internship, which will hopefully lead to a full time position in the Finance industry. I would like to travel to Korea at some point as well, either to work or just visit, but I’m not sure when I can fit that in.

Are you currently working on any interesting projects?
Yes. Professor Yoon (my Korean professor) and I are trying to expand the Korean program and hopefully make a Korean Major! My part is to show that there is an interest and demand for a Korean Major. We need more faculty and more Korean culture classes. Add Korean 3 to make it a major. I’m starting a petition for a Korean major.

What if the Korean major doesn't happen in your time here?
I’ll take independent courses with Professor Yoon.

Zach with Korean language classmates at Notre Dame

Foreign Language Experience

Tell us about your experience with foreign languages. Which do you know/study?
I took Spanish from 7th grade until my senior year in high school. Almost everyone took Spanish at my school and I chose to continue it as a higher level course for the IB program (which entails continuing to Spanish 5). Now I have taken Korean for almost two years at Notre Dame. Before my Korean studies here, I only learned the Korean alphabet and that’s all I knew. I took the language because I love the culture and have listened to Korean music since around 10th grade.

You learned Spanish for several years. Now you’re learning Korean. What are one or two major differences the two languages?
Grammatically, the verb-ending SOV structure in Korean is more difficult to learn. Also, pronunciation obviously more challenging in Korean.

What has been your favorite part of learning a language at Notre Dame?
I love how many options are offered at Notre Dame for both language study on the South Bend campus as well as abroad! The mere fact that I get to study (what some people might consider a slightly obscure) language that I love and that I got to study there is my favorite part.

Eating with his classmates at a Notre Dame Korean event

Which language class has been (or is currently) your favorite at Notre Dame?
I think Korean II with Professor Yoon has been my favorite class thus far. She is a wonderful professor that keeps the class interesting and is trying so hard to advance the Korean program here at Notre Dame. I admire the work she puts into the courses she teaches, and can tell she cares about my Korean education.

How do (or have) you use your language – here or abroad?
This past summer (2013) I had the opportunity of going to study in Korea at Sogang University in Seoul. There I took several classes taught only in Korean, which challenged me to grow and learn. I also tried to speak Korean outside of the classroom which proved to be difficult when you go everywhere with other native English speakers! At Notre Dame, I’m the only non-native Korean speaker in my Korean classes. The speakers are great resources. I’ve become friends with some of them and get a chance to practice with my classmates to develop my pronunciation and speaking skills as well as my writing—texting—skills. They help me with more with the informal aspects of the Korean.

What advice would you give to anyone learning a foreign language?
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. When learning a language it is inevitable that you will mess up and probably say something goofy from time to time, but it’s all part of the learning experience. You have to speak and learn with confidence.

International Experience


Where have you traveled to and/or studied or worked in?
I studied at a university in Seoul this past summer for 5 weeks.

Describe study program, work program abroad.
It was a five-week Korean immersion program that focused on advancing our language and cultural knowledge. In the mornings we took four hours of language courses that covered reading, speaking and writing. In the afternoons we took a two-hour culture class, which involved learning in the classroom as well as taking trips and doing activities. The culture classes were actually taught in Korean, which was a (welcome) surprise. The field trips themselves were conducted in the Korean language. I can remember our major fieldtrip to GangWon Do province and how we got to encounter the more traditional side of Korean history. We took a trip to Seoraksan mountain, a famous mountain in the northern part of Korea. We also had opportunities to visit various temples, the most memorable of which was Naksansa Temple. This temple contained a gigantic statue of Buddha right by the sea and commemorated the goddess form of Buddha known as Gwanseum-Bosal.

What was your overall experience like in Seoul, Korea?
It was crazy. I’m from a suburb. It was overwhelming but I enjoyed being there. I would say it was like a combination of the big city and a completely different language and culture. I had to take the subway everywhere, which I’m not used to.

What has been your most memorable or impactful experience regarding other cultures? How has that changed your perspectives?
This doesn’t sound very exciting, but it was a simple conversation with a friend. While in Korea, we took a field trip over one weekend and I got to sit next to a Korean student who got to go on the trip with us. It was a long bus ride into another province so we got to talk a lot. It was my first time getting to sit down and have a conversation with a native Korean and learn about each other’s cultures. It’s very easy to believe the stereotypes that go along with a country or culture, but my friend reminded me that every individual is unique and has their own opinion.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
I would want to go back to Korea of course! There are tons of places in the world I would love to travel to, but Korea and its culture is what I’ve fallen in love with. Specifically, I would love to go to Seorak Mount!

University Experience

Zach presenting at the Chuseok (Korean
Thanksgiving) event at Notre Dame

Describe (any) mentors you have had at Notre Dame and how they have encouraged and inspired you.
Professor Yoon, who is the head of the Korean department and my professor, has been a great mentor in guiding me through my Korean education. It is obvious that she genuinely cares for her students and their wellbeing. She is always encouraging me and pushing me to try my best in the classroom.

What clubs or activities do you participate in?
The club that I am most involved in at Notre Dame is Iron Sharpens Iron, or ISI. ISI is an interdenominational fellowship group, and I lead the freshman subgroup within ISI. I am also a member of the Wall Street Club, PrismND, the Texas Club, and the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra.

Talk about any grants, awards, and research positions you've received.
I received an SLA (Summer Language Abroad) for my studies in Seoul. I have been on the Dean’s List for three semesters.

Describe any internships you’ve had.
Since I am a sophomore, I have yet to obtain an internship that relates to my major (Finance). However, last summer before I went to Korea, I interned at my church with six other college students. We worked for the Children’s Ministry and organized everything from weekly Sunday School lessons to almost all of Vacation Bible School. This summer, I’m hoping to do an externship with EY (formerly, Ernst and Young).

Community Engagement

Talk about your commitment to and history of volunteerism.
I usually participate in community service projects with my church back home. Just over Spring Break we worked through Mission Arlington to serve some kids living in an apartment complex. We played with them, gave them lunch, and taught a Bible lesson to them. In high school, I also did 150 CAS (Creativity, Activity, and Service) hours for the IB program. At Notre Dame, I participate with ISI whenever they have volunteer opportunities.

What else would you like people to know about you?
I have played the violin since I was in sixth grade and am currently a member of the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra. For me, the violin is a way to escape momentarily from the hectic life that surrounds me and find peace. When I get to play music, I feel like I am creating something that is uniquely mine. I also like to DANCE. I’m performing in Seoul’d Out and Project Fresh.

Dr. Yoon says of the energetic Horne:

"I have known him for approximately a year as his instructor of Second Year Korean I & II. Throughout the semesters, I have been impressed by his preparation for the class and enthusiasm about Korean language and culture as a non-heritage student. He is one of the most excellent students and the hardest workers in my class. Also, he successfully finished his study abroad in Seoul (Sogang University) last summer."

Jal hago itsuh, Zach Horne!