March 2016 Spotlight, Heejung Park, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Heejung Park, Ph.D. ( at Bryn Mawr College. Dr. Park received her Ph.D. degree in Psychology at UCLA. Her research explores adaptation, adjustment, and the well-being of children, youth, and families, with a particular focus on Asian/Asian American experiences in increasingly multicultural and globalized settings.


Personal Spotlight

My career development has been the result of the interface between my experience as a 1.5-generation Asian American and my fascination with research as a tool to understand how culture shapes child and youth development and family dynamics. Initially, I became interested in the topics of acculturation and family relations of Asian immigrant families after my family moved from South Korea to the United States when I was an adolescent. With little economic, linguistic, and cultural resources, we found it challenging to adjust to a new setting of a rural community in one of the poorest regions in Minnesota. Yet we also found ways to support each other and navigated uncertain situations as a family. I was also startled by how people in my rural town were very communal and family-oriented, unlike my prior imagination of “American” lifestyles, which helped me later in my career to consider diverse cultures within a society. In graduate school, I focused on unpacking how immigration, urbanization, and socioeconomic conditions might shape cultural values and family dynamics, with the intent to understand implications for social change and intra-ethnic variations of Asians living in different settings. My work has since expanded to consider markers of well-being such as subjective feelings and sleep. The intersecting theme of my work is adaptation, adjustment, and well-being of children, youth, and families, with a particular focus on Asian/Asian American experiences in increasingly multicultural and globalized settings.

As someone early in her faculty career, my advice to younger scholars and students is to surround yourself with people who would both encourage and challenge you. Supportive friends and mentors have reinforced my development as a scholar and a person.

Research Spotlight

Asian students represent a large proportion of student bodies in educational institutions across the United States, but little attention is given to differential experiences of Asian/Asian American students with diverse cultural and social backgrounds. One of my current projects examines family socialization values, identities, positive and negative experiences, parent-child relations, and well-being of domestic and international students with Chinese and Korean backgrounds. Through this project, I hope to contribute to understanding how Asian/Asian American experience intersects with factors such as heritage cultural values, domestic/international status, and social class.

Experiences with Asian Caucus

I appreciate having this space for Asian/Asian American scholars and those interested in Asian/Asian American experiences to come together within the larger SRCD group. I have found that such communities encourage my passion and challenge me to carefully think about psychological and developmental issues for Asian/Asian Americans. Asian Caucus also makes a significant statement that a discourse on Asian/Asian American experience is important for the scientific community.

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