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On Tuesday, April 18th, Martin School Doctoral Candidate Kyung Ha Oh successfully defended her dissertation. Titled, Three essays on rural education: Descriptive studies focused on federal rural definitions and policy changes, the dissertation discusses “how rural and non-rural schools can be perceived differently depending on how we define ‘what is rural’,” to quote Dr. Oh. She explains:

 I look at two different definitions that are being used in a federal rural education finance policy and attempt to provide descriptive analysis hoping to help people to understand the general landscape of rural schools – their financial status, demographic characteristics, and student achievement.

Dr. Oh studied under Dr. Genia Toma whom she explains has always been, “supportive and patient with me through a long academic journey.” Kyung Ha switched topics a few times. It was Dr. Toma’s faith and longstanding support in her that mattered most. “Without her encouragement, I would have not been able to cross the finish line,” says Kyung Ha. Our faculty are known for the sense of community and care they give students directly. Personal support, tutelage and attention have been a hallmark of this small program since its inception.

When asked about how the Martin School prepared her for her current role, Dr. Oh says:

I have learned valuable data management and analysis skills throughout my time at Martin School and have practiced those skills as a research assistant for Dr. Toma. Now, working as a research practitioner at an institutional research office dealing with data reporting and analysis, I put these skills to good use every day.

Kyung Ha is currently working in the Office of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness at Monterey Peninsula College. She explains her duties this way, “My main job responsibility is providing college-wide data support and analysis for faculty and staff to make data-informed decisions in institutional planning and evaluation processes.”

She advises students to keep their options open. While most students imagine that a doctoral program is only for those who wish to go further into academia, Kyung Ha’s advice is to look more broadly. In her words, “There are so many different areas you can work and contribute using the knowledge and skills that we learn through Ph.D. programs, beyond academia…”

To learn more about the doctoral program at the Martin School, read through our program page, or reach out directly to the Director of Graduate Studies Dr. Caroline Weber, or our Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Suzy Wampler.

To read more of Dr. Kyung Ha Oh’s dissertation, you’ll find it here in the UK Library’s online database.

Kyung Ha Oh 2023 Doctoral Graduate

Dr. Kyung Ha Oh