Educational Foundations Doctoral Student

Wendan Li

“My goal is to create an open, transparent, caring, supportive, and inclusive academic community among the graduate students…”


The People’s Republic of China (but I feel like I have a hometown here too)


Educational Foundations

Related Degrees

  • PhD, Education: Educational Foundations

What else have you studied?
I received my undergraduate and graduate education at the Central China Normal University (Wuhan, Hubei Province, China). I have a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature (teacher licensure track) and a master’s in Curriculum Studies.

What is your focus in your current program?
The readings that I have explored generally focus on international student experiences in the major English-speaking countries, doctoral student socialization, and internationalization of higher education in the major English-speaking countries. I also enjoy reading articles and stories related to intercultural communication and learning.

Where do you work?
I currently work as a graduate assistant at the Office of Student Academic Services (OSAS) in the COE. Under the supervision of the office director, my role is to support and help with advisors.  Since the Spring 2017 semester, I have been more engaged with creating programs, activities, workshops, and other types of support for COE graduate students. I have applied for a few institutional grants to create programs in order to strengthen the sense of community and belonging among COE graduate students. My goal is to create an open, transparent, caring, supportive, and inclusive academic community among the graduate students via demystifying the culture of graduate school and making implicit expectations explicit. Hopefully, I can help my peers think of and maybe even envision and undergo the various possibilities, professional development opportunities within and beyond the COE, and maybe even beyond the institution and across national borders.

Why did you choose the Department of Educational Foundations?
As an individual growing up in a country that has been experiencing economic boom and is in transition to another level of societal status, many fundamental and foundational questions have not been well answered, debated, or engaged. For example, why do I have to go to school?  Why should we receive an education or educate people? What is or should be the role of education in a society? What and how does education prepare a citizen to function, navigate, survive, and thrive in a society? What is the nature of education in a society? I have always felt intrigued by these inquiries.
Based on my knowledge, the department of Educational Foundations is the place to help me unravel these bulky and complicated knots.

What are your research interests?
My dissertation topics speak of my research interests.  My original dissertation topic focused on the academic socialization (related to but not exactly the same as professional development, professionalization) experiences of Chinese international doctoral students in the United States. My current dissertation project looks at the phenomenon of internationalization of higher education at the individual level. In other words, I investigate the intercultural communication and learning experiences of the faculty, American students, and international student at a research site. These arrows help illustrate the relationship of different concepts in the discourses. Internationalization of higher education >internationalization at home>internationalization of the curriculum>the presence of international students.

Briefly describe your own path to college.
For my undergraduate, my parents chose my university and major, which was common for my generation in China. During my senior year in college, I received a scholarship, which directed me to the field.

Who/what have been the biggest influences in your education?
My educational experience here is transformative, anyone who has walked into or outside of my life has a direct or indirect impact on my sense of feeling and cognitive development. I have a long list of people to thank. The top one is Dr. Christopher S. Collins, who was the first person I felt listened to my thoughts, heard my concerns, and supported my career dream. I have met many wonderful people and mentors at conferences who generously spent their time and mind with me, shared with me their wisdom, and guided me through wonderland. I feel deeply grateful for having the late Dr. Niki Libarios as my boss and mentor. He taught me how to be a parent, a child, a spouse, a professional, an individual, and a community member. Like a light, his life enlightened me of many possibilities regarding how an individual can live a meaningful life.

What would you like to do after you earn your PhD?
Since about three years ago, I tend not to think about questions like this. I feel the most important thing is to make sure each step I walk is steady and I have tried my best. Certainly, I am aware of some possibilities for future career. All I want to do is enjoy the process of producing every piece of the work I do and be prepared for opportunities.

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