Amazing Students Profiles

Byungdeok Kang

Byungdeok Kang

Doctoral student Byungdeok Kang came to the United States thinking he would come and get a great education, then he would take his expertise home to South Korea and help people in his home country. He did research and wrote reports about parenting and children. He has studied risk factors for drug use and suicide. He knows about issues related to the workforce and economics related to childcare in Georgia…and he is the father of two daughters. As he has progressed in his education—he recently began teaching classes—he has found that his growing expertise may benefit numerous people, not just those in Korea. And he has found that he enjoys doing things, like teaching, that he has never done before. He graduates in May, and he would like to stay in higher education, but mostly, he wants to be able to put his new skills to use no matter where he is needed.


Busan, South Korea

High School:

Dong-Cheon High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in Social Work

Other degrees:

M.S.W., Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis
B.B.A., Management Information Systems, Korea University, Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Expected graduation:

Fall 2009

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

In the beginning of this year, I received the Graduate School Dean’s Award for my doctoral dissertation, which is about local congregational social services—what types of services they provide, how they provide them, and why they choose the services that they do. Prior to this year, I had been working in the Carl Vinson Institute. I had been involved several projects there including those involving drug endangered children, the Georgia Public Health Suicide Prevention Coordination Project, and one related to the economic impact and workforce development issues related to the childcare industry in Georgia. While I was in St. Louis, most of my work was related to children and families. I developed parenting class materials, wrote reports and conducted studies.

Current Employment:

This semester I am teaching the Bachelor of Social Work course called “Foundations of Social Work Research” in the School of Social Work. In addition, I work with Kimberly Clay doing data analysis for several of her projects.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…of the strong academics and excellent financial and emotional support among doctoral programs in social work. There are many learning and working opportunities at UGA outside of the School of Social Work also, which helps create an interdisciplinary education. In addition, I like the warm weather in Athens, the college town atmosphere and the proximity to Atlanta.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…playing with my two daughters. They love to ride a “G bus” (UGA transit bus). They love to come to my office to play, especially when they can use the computer and a white board in the classroom. One day, while we passed the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, my older daughter told me, “Daddy, your office is crying it misses us so much.” We love to have ice cream at the Creamery. It is so great to watch them playing, laughing and enjoying life here.

When I have free time, I like…

…watching television at my home and surfing on the Internet because I don’t need to think deeply and critically. I can relax and be foolish! However, I don’t have free time often.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…sneaked out of my parents’ house through my bedroom window. When I was a kid, I liked to play outside with my friends like other kids. Many days I came back home after dark. My parents were upset and tried to make me come home on time or to keep me at home. One day, I could not go out when I wanted to because my mom was working in the living room, and I had to pass her to get out. However, I did not give up! I went out through the window in my bedroom! Nobody expected that I would go out through that window. After that, my parents set a sturdy guard in my bedroom window—not for protecting me from strange outsiders, but to keep me in the house!

My favorite place to study is…

…my school office. My school office is usually quiet, and I have easily access to resources like books and the Internet.

My favorite professor is…

…Thomas Holland! Because of him, I can keep focusing on my areas of interest. He is optimistic and patient. Without his encouragement and understanding, my student life at UGA would be stressful and desperate.

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

…my grandfather. He passed away about a year ago while I was in the U.S. For various reasons, I could not go to Korea to see his last moment and to say my final words. He was very special to me and my family. My older daughter once told me, “I miss King Grandpa, but he does not miss us because he can see us from Heaven.” I would like to tell him what I did not say when he died, “Thank you for who you are and what you have done for us. We will miss you a lot. See you sooner or later in God’s house. Good-bye.”

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…jump off of a cliff and fly. One of my dreams is to get closer to the sky because there is no limitation in the sky. If I could fly, I could go anywhere at anytime.

After graduation, I plan to…

…work in a college or university. Before I came to study here, my plan was to go back to Korea to do something for Koreans with what I learned here. Now, I am open to all doors, not only toward Korea, but any place where I can help people and make changes in their lives.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… my first day of teaching. As time goes on, there are fewer things I can do for the first time in my life. About a year ago, I taught the first class in my life. Surprisingly, I was not nervous like I thought I would be. In fact, I was very comfortable being in the front of a classroom, and it helped that I did not make any big mistakes. This experience refreshed my life at UGA!