2021 Incoming Grad Series: Dee Dee Hong

by Chava Nerenberg, Graduate Programming Assistant
Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:30 AM

The 2021 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts about 8 students who are part of the entering class at UCSB.

Dee Dee Hong is coming to UCSB to complete her PhD in Education. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from UC San Diego and a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy degree from Northwestern. Read on to learn more about her background, why she chose UCSB, and some surprising fun facts--including her skills on the ukelele! 



When Dee Dee was 8 years old, her family immigrated from South Korea to the United States. She grew up in various cities in Southern California, and completed her Bachelor's degree in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. After graduating from college, she worked in South Korea as an English teacher at a private academy, and this experience helped spark her interest in Education. She explained, "While working at this small private school filled with highly competitive children (or sometimes just obedient children of very competitive parents), I became interested in the way students' cultures interact with their experience through the education system."

Dee Dee had always dreamed of joining the Peace Corps, and shortly after returning from Korea, she became a Peace Corps volunteer focused on education in a small, rural village in East Java, Indonesia. She had visions of using her skills and knowledge to help underserved areas, but told us, "I quickly realized that my host village and its wonderful, kind, and generous people had a lot more to teach me than I (a 25-year-old naive young lady with very limited experience of the world) could teach them. It was truly a humbling and eye-opening experience."

After returning to the United States, Dee Dee worked for several years as a higher education administrator at various colleges and universities. She told us that this opportunity to work closely with college students from diverse backgrounds further deepened her interest in how school policies impact students from different backgrounds. She completed a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy from Northwestern, and became inspired to pursue a PhD in Education from UCSB. 


Dee Dee told us she spoke to professors and attended information sessions at many different universities while researching doctoral programs, but UCSB was the school where she felt the most joy and excitement. She was deeply inspired after speaking with her advisor, Dr. Sattin Bajaj, and said that the Gevirtz School of Education's focus on diversity, research areas of policy, leadership, and research methods matched her research interests extremely well. She told us she felt "awe and excitement" at the innovative research projects being conducted by professors in the department, and was eager to become a part of such a thriving community of scholars, educators, and researchers.



Dee Dee is interested in the pathways and access to education experienced by students from minoritized backgrounds. She told us she aspires to research the interaction between school policies and underrepresented students' lives in and outside of school, especially with regards to the impact of cultural differences experienced by the students. 



Dee Dee loves learning how to do new things and particularly enjoys taking skills classes. She told us she has taken classes in watercolor, wheel throwing, salsa, paragliding, skydiving, yoga, hanging yoga, pilates, ukulele, violin, American sign language, Chinese, and French.

She is an avid traveler and adventure-lover who admits that she is often inspired to travel to try new food.

Dee Dee enjoys reading fiction books, young adult adventure stories, and mystery novels. She admitted that she never correctly guesses the "whodunnit" part of the mystery, but said it's always fun to try!

She also loves to play oldies K-pop songs on her ukelele. 

Welcome, Dee Dee!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series.