Dr. Jason Chen

Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology

Dr. ChenI feel like my life has always been about contrasts. On the one hand, I’m Chinese. But on the other hand, I’ve grown up in primarily White spaces, that really, I’m Chinese American. I can go between those two worlds, and I identify with my Chinese self, but I also feel like I really “get” majority culture. Early on in my life, I was the diversity because I grew up in all-White places. I think I was always thought of as the other. Which of these doesn’t fit? That’s who I was.

 When I was an undergraduate, I was destined for pre-med. And it stayed with me all throughout my undergraduate career to the point where after I graduated, I did research in pathology. But I kind of got seduced to the School of Education during my sophomore year. It totally changed the trajectory of my life because it showed me that there are options in this world besides what people tell me that I should go for. I have benefited, and my life is richer because of that. I think that there are a lot of Asian students of immigrant parents who share the same background that I have, and would benefit from knowing that it’s okay; it’s possible to do something besides business and medicine. There is a diversity of career options in life, even within the field of education,that no matter your passion or skills, there’s a place for you in the field of education.

 When I think of diversity, I think of a family because families have so many different types of people, especially extended family. I think of holiday get togethers, and how everybody converges in one place, and they’re from so many different places. Even though they’re from the same family, they’re just so different— age groups, political beliefs, life circumstances, where they live. And yet, somehow, in a family, you have to find ways to get along with people you don’t really get along with. I think that’s what diversity is about, too.