International PhD Student

Fan Yang

"Doctorate graduates are not just pedants in the ivory tower - their highly trained skills can be applied in many types of work."


Beijing, China


Learning Design and Technology

Related Degrees

  • PhD, Learning Design & Technology

What is your current job position?

I am the one and only instructional designer at Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati OH. It is a small-sized institution, which gives me the chance to work closely with all departments across the disciplines and be involved in campus-wide initiatives.

Please briefly describe the path that brought you to the LTEC program.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, I stumbled into the field of workplace training and later decided to pursue a graduate degree in instructional design in the US. The instructional designer at my former institution told me about the impressive presenters from UHM LTEC she met in a conference. That became one of the decisive reasons for me to come to our PhD program. Another decisive reason was the collaboration between LTEC and universities in Japan. I admire Japanese culture and the close connection between Hawaii and Japan was an irresistible opportunity for me.

How do you apply what you learned in the LTEC program to your current work?

The PhD training prepared me to communicate in a scholarly manner; it also allowed me to stay current with emerging research trends in the field. I think this is an essential skill for instructional designers, especially for those in higher education, since technology, as well as the ID field, evolve at an extremely high speed and a great portion of customers we primarily serve in higher ed are scholars.

How would you describe the LTEC program to others?

The LTEC PhD program is a wonderful place to develop research skills. It also provides incomparable networking/collaboration opportunities with top-notch scholars in the field, especially those in East Asia.

What was your favorite part of being in an LTEC program?

The genuine ohana feeling I received from everyone in the department.

What do you hope to inspire by sharing your education experience?

I hope the value of PhD training will be more and more appreciated. Doctorate graduates are not just pedants in the ivory tower – their highly trained skills can be applied in many types of work. I also hope more people, young or mature, would be willing to go out of their comfort zone to experience diverse cultures.

What are your future plans?

The area I work right now has a lot of college students from low-income families. As a first-generation college graduate myself from a blue-collar family, I would love to do more to help these students. I am currently collaborating with our university’s library to promote replacing commercial textbooks with OER in new online courses, which help make college more affordable. I hope this promotion will become a campus-wide initiative in the near future.

What advice would you have for others currently in the LTEC program?

Networking is incredibly beneficial! If I could start again, I would definitely network more with scholars in our field on social media and by attending conferences. I think networking is especially beneficial for international students who don’t have much social capital in the US.

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