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Heungkook "HK" Stephens -- University of Maryland, College Park
Heungkook "HK" Stephens was not allowed to date, so the idea of partnering with a girl at the middle school dance was downright mortifying.
He was still a kid, however, and he still wanted to look cool. So he decided to breakdance instead.
What started as a lark has become an essential hobby for the University of Maryland, College Park senior, who will deliver the student address at commencement on Sunday. "It's my release from the structure of engineering," said Stephens, who will graduate with a 4.0 average.
The aspiring civil engineer has spent four years on the university's hip-hop dance team, has taken numerous modern dance classes and also competes with the Culture Shock D.C. troupe. "I love it," he said.
The pairing of science and dance is hardly the only unusual detail about Stephens, the fourth from his family to attend the university.
At 22, the Columbia resident has been married for more than two years to Jin Soon Stephens, who is studying business at Howard Community College. Their families, both devout in the Unification Church, matched the pair. Stephens, who will continue at College Park as a graduate student, said he and his wife share a desire to work around the world, helping people in developing nations.
Stephens lived in Bangladesh for a year after he graduated from Oakland Mills High. There, he saw how engineers from nonprofits brought schools, irrigation systems and electricity to developing villages. A freshman civil engineering course only reinforced his desire to meld his math and science skills with such outreach efforts.
"I want to do something for the greater good," he said.
That will be Stephens' message when he speaks to his commencement class, that great passion and heart can lie beneath the most technical work. And maybe he’ll dance a little as well.
-- Childs Walker
April 11, 2012