Alumni Spotlight: Seoyeon Choi, MPP’19

​At the BIP Lab, our main goal is to understand parental decision-making. If information is power, we believe that learning about someone else’s personal experience can be particularly helpful when making decisions for your career, too. That’s why we wanted to introduce our interview series, “Alumni Spotlight,” where we sit down with former students to learn what drives them, what they liked about working at the BIP lab, and where they are now. 

We caught up with Seoyeon Choi to learn more about her experiences as a former BIP Lab field research assistant and her life post BIP Lab. She will be joining the Human Development and Psychology Master of Arts program at UCLA Graduate School of Education this coming Fall.

BIP Lab: How did you become interested in your field? What drew you to work at the BIP Lab?

Choi: During the Winter 2017 quarter, while I was in my second year as an MPP student and 5- months pregnant, I took two courses related to child policy; one of them was from Professor Kalil and it was titled “Early Childhood: Human Capital Development and Public Policy”. I was never interested in education and children’s studies before taking these courses, but those two courses changed my life.

BIP Lab: What was your past position at the BIP Lab and how long were you with the BIP Lab? 

Choi: I was a field research assistant for about 7 months.

BIP Lab: When and how did you first become interested in your field? What drew you to work at the BIP Lab?

Choi: During the Winter 2017 quarter, while I was in my second year as an MPP student and 5- months pregnant, I took two courses related to child policy; one of them was from Professor Kalil and it was titled “Early Childhood: Human Capital Development and Public Policy”. I was never interested in education and children studies before taking these courses, but those two courses changed my life.

BIP Lab: What is one of your favorite memories of the BIP Lab?

Choi: My favorite memories were watching children and their caretakers sharing their moments during pick-ups and drop-offs. One time, a kid was feeling really upset when their caretakers were late, and I was lucky to give them a hug (with consent) and waited together until they came. Those experiences taught me hands-on insights on education issues. For instance, why was the parent late? Sometimes it is because they were working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes they were under influence. Sometimes they had other kids to pick up from different schools. BIP Lab gives you the best opportunity to uncover real-world aspects of education and parenting.

BIP Lab: How do you think your experience and time at the BIP Lab helped you get to where you are today? 

Choi: I was able to observe multiplex parent-child and teacher-student interactions. This experience helped shape my research interest in interventions that can be implemented by families and educators to promote early childhood development, especially for low-income children.

BIP Lab: What do you think makes the BIP Lab special and unique? 

Choi: The lab shares the research updates and data with research assistants. So, you get to see what your fieldwork has contributed to. It also invites research assistants to great talks which were all insightful.

BIP Lab: What advice would you give to other students who aspire to follow a similar career path?

Choi: To actively communicate with other research assistants and lab affiliates as well as with school officials and caretakers if you work in the field. Education is everything. I believe it is the one of few ways to almost resolve every social issue. Believe in your cause and keep working. There is so much work to do here.

BIP Lab: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

Choi: With a toddler during the pandemic, I do not have free time. But when I do, I read articles and listen to podcasts on education.

Interview conducted by Eibhlin Lim.