Su Yeong Kim
University of Texas – Austin
Dr. Su Yeong Kim is an associate professor at the University Texas at Austin. She studies the intersection of family and cultural contexts in the development of children of immigrants in the United States. She examines culturally-relevant developmental processes such as acculturation, tiger parenting, and language brokering in immigrant families, with a focus on the development of adolescents. Dr. Kim’s focus is on Chinese American and Mexican American families in the United States.
What drew you to the field of psychology and your current research interests?
As an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, I was taking an upper division developmental psychology class. I was surprised that so little was mentioned in the textbooks about the experiences of ethnic minorities like myself. I wanted to change that because I felt that experiences of Asian Americans were just as valid as the experiences of European Americans, which was the focus of the majority of studies discussed in the textbook.
A doctoral degree in psychology can lead to a number of different careers. Can you tell us about how you chose your current career path?
I fell in love with my first developmental psychology course as an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. I loved the idea of being able to ask my own questions, formulate a study design, and discover the answers to one’s own questions. Becoming a faculty member at a research institution meant I could do it as a career.
As you think back to your undergraduate days, what were some experiences that were helpful in bringing you to where you are today?
I had two very important research experiences as an undergraduate student. First was doing an honors thesis, which solidified my desire to become a social scientist as I loved the process of conducting original reserach. Second was through the Summer Research Opportunity Program, which allowed me to gain additional research experience at the University of Maryland College Park and further solidified my desire to pursue a Ph.D.
How do you think we can get more Asian Americans interested in psychology, starting at the undergraduate level?
We should encourage more classes on the topic Asian American psychology, and get Asian American undergraduate students to sign up to become a research assistant.
What advice would you give any undergraduates who are thinking about majoring in psychology, or pursuing graduate school in psychology?
Gain as much research experience as possible, preferably with at least three different professors as you will need three letters of recommendation to apply to graduate school.