Sung Tae Jang2019 Rising Alumni

Sung Tae Jang

Sung Tae Jang got his PhD in education policy and leadership just last year, and was nominated by his adviser, Nicola Alexander. Today, he is an Assistant Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong. Wherever he goes, Sung Tae advocates for equitable opportunities and has created a more inclusive school environment where everyone has a voice, regardless of their race/ethnicity, gender, class, religious, and sexual orientation. He provides significant mentoring and support to young children who may feel marginalized from the dominant group in society, and his current research aims to improve educational equity for underrepresented students in Hong Kong. Sung Tae’s experience in CEHD sparked his teaching interest in social justice, and inspired him to focus on research that advocates for students with marginalized identities.

Current Job

Assistant Professor, The Education University of Hong Kong

CEHD Degree

PhD Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, 2018

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

I have four co-authored publications with my advisor, Nicola Alexander, in leading academic journals and one forthcoming. They include “Policy, Poverty, and Student Achievement: An Exploration of the Impact of State Policies,” in Educational Policy; “‘Synonymization’ Threat and the Implications for the Funding of School Districts with Relatively High Populations of Black Students,” in Race Ethnicity and Education; “Equity and Efficiency of Minnesota Educational Expenditures with a Focus on English Learners, 2003-2011: A Retrospective Look in a Time of Accountability,” in the Education Policy Analysis Archives; and “The Performance Cycle: The Association Between Student Achievement and State Policies Tying Together Teacher Performance and Accountability, in the American Journal of Education. I also have one solo-authored publication: “The Implications of Intersectionality on Southeast Asian Female Students’ Educational Outcomes in the United States: A Critical Quantitative Intersectionality Analysis,” in the American Educational Research Journal.

Volunteer activities

Based on my commitment and research interest in educational equity for students with marginalized identities, I volunteered to support these students in both Minnesota and Hong Kong. Working closely with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at the University of Minnesota, I supported new international students in maximizing the use of the U’s academic resources and bringing their cultural heritages to the University. In addition, I also worked with the U Police Department to provide outreach for domestic and international students as well as enhance the intercultural competence for both officers and students. In Hong Kong where I work as an assistant professor, I also voluntarily serves as a piano accompanist for the Korean church community, as well as a teacher who teaches young Korean children who cannot speak Korean at all while also providing information about Korean culture through my teaching experience in Korea. Based on my active community service and engagement in schools and the community in Hong Kong, my new research projects aim to improve educational equity and social justice for ethnic minority students (e.g., Southeast Asian students, South Asian students) in Hong Kong.

Awards or honors from collegiate, professional, or volunteer experiences

I received the AERA RWE SIG 2019 Selma Greenberg Outstanding Dissertation Award and the AERA REAPA SIG 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

The most influential professor is Nicola Alexander. I still remember her two decimal points grading and very detailed comments. Her feedback was the most helpful to develop my paper and dissertation. In addition, she memorized every students' name in the first lesson, and her kindness and caring for her students were also influential for me to be a better educator and advisor. As an assistant professor, I am trying to follow her way of teaching, but I realized that it is not that easy to do without strong commitments, care, and love.

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

My favorite memory from the University of Minnesota is the time when I went back home from the Recreation and Wellness Center. There are three reasons: 1) I can see the most beautiful sunset around 8 to 9 p.m. when I walked from the Rec Center to Dinkytown, 2) I can cross the shaking bridge around Dinkytown, and 3) I can feel that I lived life to the full on that day.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

My educational experience in CEHD guided me to have my current research and teaching interests in educational equity and social justice, as a critical quantitative researcher. The courses in OLPD, including Sociology of Education (taught by Karen Seashore Louis) expanded my understanding about theories to tackle the educational inequity issues in the United States and other countries (e.g., Hong Kong). Furthermore, the methodological foundations from the courses in QME (Ernest Davenport) strengthened my capacity to provide generalizable findings to policy makers as a critical quantitative research. The great adviser's and mentors' support enabled me to continue the pursuit of diversity and inclusiveness in diverse communities. Based on the various support from CEHD (e.g., travel grant, fellowships), I was able to develop my professional capacity to impact the current educational policy and practice.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

I would like to go to a swimming pool. There are so many great outdoor swimming pools in Hong Kong because of the hot weather, even in winter. Or, I would go to the gym when I have free time. When I studied in CEHD for my PhD, my life pattern was home-Starbucks-Rec Center. Doing more bench presses at the Rec Center was a good way to escape from the intense academic stress. Playing the piano is my other hobby. When I was so stressed from writing my dissertation, I often went to Coffman Memorial Union and played the grand piano there. I played lots of k-pop and gospel songs.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pianist when I grew up.