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Outstanding Alumni – Yang Yang (PhD 2011)

Betz Kerley

Statistically speaking, not everyone is a “numbers person.” You might call those who struggle with statistics, probabilities and causalities, mathematically challenged. That description certainly doesn’t apply to Institutional Research Analyst (IR), Dr. Yang Yang. Working in the Office of Institutional Research at the President’s Office of the University of California, Yang spends her days maintaining and updating the database, analyzing survey data, responding to data requests and assisting with survey administration.

Yang didn’t initially plan on working in institutional research but after her studies at IHE, she felt well prepared for this position.

“IR requires statistical skills and I feel confident in my math abilities,” shares Yang. “Also, IR covers various policy areas such as admissions, enrollment, tuition, graduation, financial aid, faculty salary, accountability, and budgeting, so most of what I learned about higher education can be applied directly to an IR job.” Yang adds, “For an international student like me, it is good to start a career in institutional research to get more practical experience to better understand higher education in the U.S.”

Dr. Yang shared that the Institute’s ranking was the first thing that caught her attention when she was looking for a doctoral program. “I looked at both university ranking and the program ranking. IHE was ranked 7th nationwide in higher education at that time, and it is a unique interdisciplinary program that provides various academic and professional opportunities for students to grow in whatever career path they want to pursue.” Yang added, “Another reason was it is a small stand-alone program that provided me with a collegial, English-speaking environment. It also has collaborations and exchanges with Chinese universities.”

Yang also mentions the benefits of the conferences and seminars held by the Institute. “IHE has been very (helpful to) my career. They hold conferences on various topics and invite speakers from the nation and around the world, which enhanced my understanding and broadened my vision.”

Dr. Yang stresses to doctoral students entering the IHE, “The earlier they can figure out their research focus, the better. Then they can take courses that are more tailored. Attending ASHE (Association for the Study of Higher Education) and AIR (Association for Institutional Research) or other national and international conferences definitely helps to build one’s network and increase job opportunities.”

Statistically speaking, the odds are that Dr. Yang has shared some excellent advice.

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PhD, 2011

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