Faculty Research Profile
Dr. Jing Wang
Ph.D. in Public Administration/Public Policy
Professor of Public Administration
at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Dr. Jing Wang is not just a first-generation college student in the United States, but a first-generation college student in China. As an undergraduate, Dr. Wang attended Zhejiang University, a “top five university in China.” She pursued a Political Science degree and “was involved in several research projects” with her professors. She recalls that her “ideas were really naive, but creative” as an undergraduate but that her “professors really liked that” and encouraged her to develop further in her field.
During her time in school, in addition to her 500 yuan stipend for her research projects and scholarships, Dr. Wang also tutored and taught public administration, in English, at a private school. Her research experience, her teaching and tutoring, and her Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) program at Zhejiang all made her realize that her “passion was in research” and got her thinking about the future – “if I wanted to see the world outside, to study abroad, maybe do a doctoral program and then I could one day teach.”
Dr. Wang was born in China and attended school in China up until she started her Ph.D. program in Public Administration at Arizona State University. Her parents, both having a middle-school level education, were supportive but wary of her pursuit of a Ph.D. “It was shocking news for them, actually,” she recalls, “I got a nice job offer from the city government of Shanghai…but I decided to give it up because to study abroad, to continue my research – that was more appealing to me and my parents just couldn’t understand that.” Now, though, her parents are elated with her choice to come to America and to teach at Cal Poly Pomona. “They especially enjoy the diverse community and the weather,” she shares. “My parents really think that my efforts across these years were worth it and now they visit me every other year.”
The Ph.D. program at ASU was challenging for Dr. Wang. While Dr. Wang taught in English, the level of language in the classroom made things difficult at first. She notes that she reached out to her peers and “of course my professors there,” and realized that “language may have been an issue but it was just temporary” and she became “much more comfortable and much more confident.” “I can see that from some of my international students here in my classes,” and she offers that “I can one hundred percent feel what they are feeling now because I went through it.” Through making “a habit of reading and writing” and the help of her faculty and peers, Dr. Wang finished her dissertation project and earned her Ph.D. in five years as “one of only two in [her] cohort” to do so.
Now, as a professor at Cal Poly Pomona, Dr. Wang is excited by the “combination of research and teaching” and calls it her “ideal job.” While Dr. Wang mostly mentors graduate students working in the MPA program, she does mentor undergraduate students as well. In one of the 400 level classes she teaches, her students “worked with Parking and Transportation…they collected data and distributed surveys, and gave useful suggestions for them to change parking and different ways they could operate the shuttles. PTS found it really helpful for their programs.” Dr. Wang finds “the learn by doing approach” is enjoyable and she feels that her students “can actually contribute something to almost everyone’s life on campus” through projects like the one she supervised for class because “everyone needs to park or even take the shuttle sometimes.” Further, “it’s very likely they’ll do this kind of work in the public sector” while the projects are also “academic because they use the rigorous social research approaches to get the data and to analyze the data.”