MiYong Fitzpatrick immigrated to the United States from South Korea in 1982 when she was 24 years old. She and her husband arrived in Texas — their future unsure.
After three years, they left the Lone Star State and headed to Florida to be closer to her husband’s family.
The couple split shortly after, and the newly divorced, single mother of three had to figure out how to support her family.
“We needed bread, basically money,” MiYong says. “I didn’t have a choice.”
She started training as a seamstress and got a job in a sewing factory. It wasn’t what she wanted, but it paid her bills.
“I’ll be honest with you, we were behind the bills,” she says. “I have to get food on the table. That’s only reason I did it.”
In 1993, MiYong opened a tailor shop that she still owns and operates today. She now also owns a laundromat in Starke.
To MiYong, life is simple. She lives by her values: faith, family and treating people with respect. She feels blessed despite the hard times she has endured.
When deciding on a political candidate to support, she looks for candidates whose values line up with her own.
Although a registered Republican, she said she researches each politician before making a decision.
“I don’t just go (to the) media. I don’t just go thinking somebody told me or tell me, whatever,” she says. “I go research myself sometimes and read their biography and what they have.”
As a small business owner, she wants to see more tax cuts for businesses like hers, rather than for big corporations.
“We work hard,” she says. “Big corporations, they don’t. I mean, they do, but their whole system, they have better. Small businesses, most people I know, they work 18-hour, 20-hour days non-stop.”
MiYong thinks Democrats need to be stricter on policy decisions.
“At some point you gotta draw line like children, and say no is no,” MiYong says. “You can’t just please everybody.”
MiYong is proud of her accomplishments. She values her faith and the example she set for her children above all.
“My kids are good,” MiYong says. “I’m just thankful they have done well with what they have. I’m not gonna claim by myself all the credit, but they did it too.”