As part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion journey, Connecticut Children’s celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, which honors the culture and contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States. As part of our organization’s recognition of this month and other culture months, we highlight the accomplishments and heritage of team members through personal interviews to deepen our appreciation of each other. 

In this interview, Jane Im, MD, shares about her Korean heritage, her role models and the meaning of the sign that sits on her desk. Dr. Im is an attending physician in Connecticut Children’s Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine and Medical Director of Interoperability at Connecticut Children’s.

Want more articles like this from pediatric experts you trust?

Sign up for our newsletter.

1. Tell us about some of your role models.

Dr. Im: My family, of course. I have always admired the changes and challenges that my family navigated to find a new home and create a new life. My music teacher, Dr. Eun Kyung Kim who truly showed me at a young age what it was to be an independent and creative thinker and to follow your passions. She is a gifted composer, conductor and spreads her joy of music to everyone she teaches. She has always approached everything with a positive outlook and can troubleshoot like you wouldn’t believe. She has a way of creating solutions for any and all obstacles in her path. Beyond music, she has focused her career to support and advocate for the underserved, those in need/danger and the Asian community as a whole. She continues to be a friend to our family and always lends a listening ear and encouraging voice.

Our family friend, Mary Kim Joh who lived until 101 years of age. She was an inspiration and wrote THE song that every Korean child learned in school, the equivalent to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” She was a pioneer, well versed in music, science and even joined the Peace Corps in her 70s. As a child, I was amazed at all she accomplished and remember her for baking us delicious birthday cakes. Looking back as an adult to remind myself what she accomplished in the era that she did, I am astonished.

Dr. Im's Mother and Dr. Eun Kim
Dr. Im’s Mother and Dr. Eun Kyung Kim, both role models.

2. In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, please share something about your heritage or experiences that you would like team members to know.

Dr. Im: My major in college was actually history and at that time, I began looking more and more into the history of where my family is from. Korea has had a long history of war, occupation and in that time period there were a lot of injustices; destruction of historical artifacts and documents, restrictions on use of Korean language and expression of culture including the changing of family names. My father is one of six children and my mother is one of four so I have tons of family members but most of them live in Korea. My sister and I grew up very insulated, the only “Ims.”

For a very long time, I had not known too much about our family’s history and experiences. It was only when I was a bit older and traveled to Korea that I met most of my family and saw where it was we came from. I often am surprised that parts of history that seem so remote to us were lived just a generation or two ago. When I hear my family discuss the occupation of Korea, not as history but memories it reminds me that we are not so removed as we had thought. Meeting them and hearing their stories gave me a sense of connectedness I had never experienced before. It was hearing our last name as common place, seeing all the traits I had seen in my parents that they had gotten from their parents, and learning the pride behind our story that made everything make so much more sense for me from that point on.

3. What books or publications focused on AANHPI issues or written by AANHPI authors would you recommend to family, friends and colleagues?

Dr. Im: Admittedly, it has been several years since I have read these. The Interpreter by Suki Kim is actually a murder mystery that follows the main character, a Korean-English interpreter, exploring her experiences as a child of immigrant parents. Lost Names: Scenes From A Korean Boyhood by Richard Kim is fictional but is set in the time of the occupation of Korea and follows a family through their experiences. At the Well is a collection of poems by Kim So-yeop and for lighter reading and just perusing cute, uplifting cartoons, Perytail has a series of illustrations that I love.

4. What do you like most about working for Connecticut Children’s?

Dr. Im: The people are amazing! I truly get to work with people I admire and trust beyond words.

Dr Im's sign
The famous sign on Dr. Im’s desk

5. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Dr. Im: The sign on my desk doesn’t translate well but in essence it reads, “If you believe, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. Just do it.”