Amazing Students Profiles

Baek Tae

Baek Tae

Graduate student Tae Hyun Baek came to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication for an opportunity to work with faculty in the department of advertising and public relations who make it one of the nation’s best in terms of research productivity. Baek himself has authored six published research articles in his time here and has won a prestigious and highly competitive award from the American Academy of Advertising. After graduation, he plans to pursue an academic career devoted to advertising teaching and scholarship.


Suwon, Korea

High School:

Suwon High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in Mass Communication (major concentration in advertising)

Other degrees:

M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication (major concentration: advertising), University of Georgia, 2007
B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations, Hanyang University, South Korea, 2005

Expected graduation:

August 2010

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

In 2008, I was selected on a competitive basis to receive the Dana M. Blackmar III Memorial Scholarship in the UGA  Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at UGA. One of my most substantial achievements was receiving the Best Paper Award at the 2010 American Academy of Advertising (AAA) conference in Minneapolis. The award comes from one of the most prestigious academic organizations of advertising scholars and professionals. The winning paper, titled “The effects of message framing and counterfactual thinking in anti-binge drinking PSAs,” was co-authored by Dr. Lijiang Shen, an assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication at UGA. It was not judged in a student division, but was the best overall paper at the AAA conference out of 153 papers submitted for review. I poured my heart and energy into this research project to examine individual motivational factors that can serve to influence the persuasiveness of public service announcements (PSAs) for binge drinking problems facing college campuses. Another achievement resulted from my experience collaborating on research with faculty members in the department of advertising and public relations at Grady College. If they had not enthusiastically supported my work, I would not have succeeded in making my mark in advertising research. During my doctoral program, I have had six articles published or accepted for publication in academic journals, including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Services Marketing, Asian Journal of Communication, Pharmaceutical Medicine, and Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare and Ethics. These accomplishments have rewarded me with strong confidence in myself and my intellectual abilities in advertising research.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication was the best environment in which to develop my critical thinking as well as teaching and research experiences in the fields of advertising and mass communication. Most importantly, the Grady College encouraged graduate students to collaborate with faculty as an essential part of the learning process. Given the opportunity to work with respected advertising professors and receive financial and emotional support from the Grady College, I could continue my academic path during my graduate program. According to Ford and Merchant (2008)’s article in the Journal of Advertising, the University of Georgia ranked as the top institution in terms of advertising research productivity from 1997 to 2006. Having experienced a unique learning atmosphere of diversity, research productivity, and collaborative approaches in the Grady College, I’ve realized that my decision to attend UGA was correct.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… walking around the Oconee Forest Park along the Lake Herrick shore with my wife and daughter. There are natural paths in wooded areas surrounded by native plants and wildflowers. It provides a peaceful place for my family to relax and rest. It also benefits our family bonding. There is no question that the Oconee Forest Park has become one of my favorite spots on campus.

When I have free time, I like…

… playing tennis with my friends. It is good to maintain my fitness activities, not only for health benefits, but also for social interaction as well. Most importantly, my wife allows me to skip doing household chores when I play a tennis match!

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…After finishing my military service duty in South Korea, I traveled to Australia as an adventure backpacker. Inspired by the book the Secrets of Work & Travel in Australia, I decided to travel there for unique outdoor experiences and the thrill of the snorkel and scuba diver in the Great Barrier Reef. I had dreamed of traveling and working in Australia because I heard that the Australian government allows people from many foreign countries to earn good money while traveling the Outback. At the time, I felt confident that I could do anything I wanted with my military experience under my belt. For the sake of travel, I got a fruit picking job on a farm. I spent a couple of weeks picking from trees and pulling from the ground. It was the most physically demanding job I’ve ever done because I had to bend and stretch in the sun (in temperatures over 100 degrees) all day. I ended up quitting the job and giving up my backpacking trip in Australia because of my backache. I even spent a lot of money curing my severe back pain. I realized that I will never do such crazy challenges, especially a fruit picking job, while backpacking and working abroad.

My favorite place to study is…

… in the Main Library, which provides the quiet atmosphere that helps me keep focusing on my work. I have easy access to educational resources and books whenever I need. For stress relief, I often get some fresh air and study on the lawn in front of the main library that is surrounded by majestic oak trees.

My favorite professor is…

… Dr. Karen King in the department of advertising and public relations in the Grady College. She is currently the chair of my doctoral dissertation committee. Her insightful knowledge, heartwarming encouragement and unwavering patience have helped me unlock my academic potential. Furthermore, she is always standing by my side no matter what I do. When I have a hard time juggling work and family, she gives me thoughtful advice. I am greatly indebted to Dr. King for her tangible and intangible supports.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… my father-in-law, who passed away last year. When I got married, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease so I couldn’t talk with him a lot. I was told that he had devoted himself to caring for my wife before he was sick. If I could have an opportunity to speak with him, I would say that I love him and appreciate his endless love to my family.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… become a global leader who makes influential contributions to Korean reunification. Since South Korea is my home country, I know how important it is to reunify the two divided countries (South and North Korea). I hope that Korean reunification is peaceful on the basis of inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.

After graduation, I plan to…

… pursue an academic career devoted to advertising teaching and scholarship in the United States. I would like to continue teaching advertising-related classes and doing research that focuses mainly on health issues in advertising and strategic brand communication, particularly advertising strategies for brand credibility and strong brand relationship with consumers.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… when I met Matthew Stafford (a former UGA quarterback and the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft for the Detroit Lions) in person when he played college football at Georgia. In fact, I was supposed to proctor his early exam in my office. I was so excited to have an opportunity to talk with him after his exam. I wished him the best of luck during the football season. He ended up being a key role to play in defeating the Hawaii Warriors in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. That is what I will never forget at UGA.