Kelley Chung | Teachers College Columbia University

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Kelley Chung

Kelley Chung has spent the past two years helping young adults get admitted and acclimated to college, but now she finds herself walking in their shoes as a new student at TC.

Kelley Chung has spent the past two years helping young adults get admitted and acclimated to college, but now she finds herself walking in their shoes as a new student at TC.  The master's candidate in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program describes her first month at the College as a "really wonderful experience," one that draws upon her previous work in undergraduate admissions and supports her future plans to make a difference in educational policy.

The Los Angeles native majored in political science and economics at University of Redlands thinking that she would one day pursue a career in either the foreign service or law.  She was an intern with the Dean of Admissions during three of her years there, conducting campus tours, contacting perspective freshmen, and speaking with the Board of Trustees as a student advocate.  After completing her studies, she made a smooth transition to Mount St. Mary's College as an admissions counselor where she assisted both two- and four-year applicants.  Kelley counseled a diverse group of students, and working closely with those who faced economic hardships inspired her commitment to helping others with similar needs.  "It made me want to stay in higher education and open different doors," she says.  Questions about how higher education is structured and what policies affect it prompted her to speak with colleagues about possible schools for graduate studies.  It was suggested that she consider applying to TC, and Kelley's decision to follow that advice is what led her here.

Not only does she like the College's urban setting, but Kelley also appreciates the diversity among the City's institutions of higher education that include city, state, and Ivy League universities.   Although moving to New York meant relinquishing a role at MSMC that she laughingly describes as her former students' "College Mom," she is confident in the choice she has made.  "I want to be where I can make policy differences.  My heart is with my low socioeconomic students, especially my underrepresented students."  Before leaving her admissions position, she helped admit 100 students to this year's first-year class at MSMC.  "That's so much more rewarding to me than making six figures at a law firm," she expresses.

Kelley plans to make the most of her time at the College and in New York City, enjoying life in TC's New Residence Hall and taking advantage of unique opportunities like shopping at the Farmer's Market when she takes a rare break from studying.  "I feel like I'm living the New York life, and I'm loving it."  She also serves as a student ambassador for TC's Office of Admission, leading tours and chatting online with individuals interested in applying.  Still, she remains focused on what led her to move more than 2,000 miles from her hometown-her graduate education-and says that she finds sharing her passion with others in her program an opportunity to think critically and be challenged by others who are doing the same.  The coupling of her academic and professional experiences encourages Kelley that she can help pave the road to higher education for individuals who might otherwise not think that this is possible.  This, says Kelley, "makes me realize why I do what I do everyday.  I'm doing what I was intended to do from the beginning."

Published Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004