Known as one of the Chicago Kollaboration “OGs” (aka “Original Gangsters”), SooJung Park is a woman of many talents and aspirations. SooJung joined Kollaboration in 2008 as a volunteer while attending the University of Illinois at Chicago.   Funny thing is, SooJung admits that she had very little knowledge of the organization when she first volunteered. But that did not stop SooJung, the precocious college student with long black hair and big brown eyes, from making a difference in the community.

After her first year on staff, SooJung was impressed by the mere talent-pool of astonishing vocalists, dancers, and performers. She confesses, “I didn’t know that Chicago had so many talented people.”  Chicago is filled with these hidden gems, as every year contestants from around the Chicagoland area impress SooJung more and more.

As the current Director of Planning and Operations, SooJung is responsible for overseeing all technicalities and logistics during the auditions and the show.  She is the lady with the organized clipboard who books the venue, manages programming and scheduling, and basically runs the entire flow of the show.  When you go to a Kollaboration show, what you see is what SooJung prepared for you.

If SooJung were a performer in Kollaboration, her talent would definitely be singing.  A gifted singer from a young age, the Director loves all things music.  However, she confesses that she does not have the confidence to do what all Kollaboration contestants do annually – to perform in front of a large audience.  Though she does not play the part of the singer, SooJung gains much happiness from being a part of an organization that helps others achieve this same goal.

“I wish people knew that we aren’t just a talent show that’s held every year.  I wish people knew that our mission is ‘Empowerment through entertainment’ and we simply seek to empower the Asian/Pacific Islander Community by providing the artists with a stage to showcase their talents”.

With five years under her belt, SooJung encourages artists of all backgrounds and talent levels to audition for the show.  “It doesn’t hurt to try,” she begins, “[and whether you make it or not] it’s a great way to show everyone your talent.”

All of the Kollaboration staff and volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to produce a top-quality show with top-quality performances.  However, it is important to recognize that Kollaboration is still a growing movement in Chicago.  SooJung acknowledges that finding enough supporters and sponsors of the show remains a constant struggle.  Nevertheless, SooJung selflessly soldiers on, as she lives and breathes Kollaboration and the ideal it fosters.