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[KDIS in the Spotlight] From KDI School to UIUC - A Ph.D. Journey in Economics (Han Na Jang, 2018 MPP)

  • Date 2024-06-17 18:00
  • CategoryStory
  • Hit458

KDI School of Public Policy and Management has long been recognized for its rigorous academic programs and its ability to shape future leaders in economics and public policy. The journey of one of its distinguished alumni, Han Na Jang, who successfully gained admission to a Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, exemplifies the school's commitment to academic excellence and professional development. This article explores her academic and professional background, the support she received from KDI School, and the advice she offers to current students aspiring to pursue similar paths.

Can you tell us a bit about your academic and professional background before joining KDI School?

I studied economics as an undergraduate and joined KDI School to pursue a Masters of Public Policy directly after completing my degree. I interned at the OECD right before graduating from KDI School. After graduation, I worked at KDI (Korea Development Institute) for 2.5 years before starting my Ph.D.

What motivated you to choose KDI School for your studies, and how did KDI School’s curriculum and faculty contribute to your academic growth?

I was particularly drawn to KDI School because of my keen interest in development economics, and the school offered an extensive array of courses in this area. The professors at KDI School are not only highly esteemed in their fields but also incredibly supportive and approachable. Their guidance and advice were invaluable to me, significantly enhancing my academic and career development.

What kind of support and resources did KDI School provide to help you in your academic journey?

I learned a lot from methodology courses, such as Impact Evaluation Methods, and discussion courses like Issues and Analysis of Global Civil Society. Studying with classmates from various countries who had worked as policymakers helped me understand the policy-making process. By listening to their stories, I learned not only from the course materials and papers but also from real-world experiences beyond the numbers and equations.

Did you participate in any research projects or special programs at KDI School that you believe strengthened your Ph.D. application?

I worked as a Research Assistant (RA) for two projects and assisted with a course as a Teaching Assistant (TA). These experiences taught me a great deal about conducting research. Additionally, I worked part-time at KDI during my second year and interned at the OECD right before graduation. These roles significantly bolstered my Ph.D. application, both through my CV and Statement of Purpose (SOP), and they inspired me to delve deeper into research.

How did KDI School prepare you for the Ph.D. application process?

I prepared my Ph.D. application while working at KDI, two years after graduation. Since KDI and KDI School share the same building, I could easily meet with professors. They provided me with invaluable help and advice for the Ph.D. application process. Even professors whose courses I had not taken were open to meetings and offered valuable insights. I am truly grateful for that support during that time.

What advice would you give to current KDI School students who are considering applying for Ph.D. programs?

My advice to current KDI School students considering Ph.D. programs is to fully utilize the resources and support available at KDI School. Engage actively with professors, seek their guidance, and don't hesitate to ask for advice on your Ph.D. applications. Building strong relationships with faculty can offer invaluable mentorship and recommendations. Additionally, aim to gain ample research experience through RA and TA positions, internships, and thesis projects. These experiences will bolster your application and prepare you for the demands of a Ph.D. program.

Furthermore, I recommend collaborating with peers who are also preparing for Ph.D. applications. Working alongside friends can offer mutual support, diverse perspectives, and ongoing motivation throughout the process. Share resources, review each other's application materials, and practice for interviews together.

Han Na's journey from graduate studies in public policy to earning admission to the Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign highlights the profound influence of KDI School's academic programs and faculty support. Her story  serves as a powerful testament to the school's capacity to empower students with the requisite knowledge, skills, and professional experiences essential for triumphing in both academic pursuits and career pathways. For current and prospective students alike, her trajectory provides not only inspiration but also tangible guidance on harnessing the resources available at KDI School to realize their academic aspirations.

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ALI, Qamer

2023 Fall / MDP / Pakistan

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