Reasons to Apply

There are many reasons to apply to the Department of Education in the Gevirtz School. We have excellent faculty members, a wonderful staff, stellar students, and a long list of innovative and challenging learning opportunities.

Read below for insights into our current students. Click here to view information about our alumni job placements.


Wona Lee

Background:  I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. As soon as I got married in Korea, I moved to the U.S. with my husband and settled down in a small Korean community in California 16 years ago. While trying to get accustomed to my new life in this diverse society, I became a mother of two America born Korean children who are now 14 and 12 years old. As a second language learner and a mother, I encountered two major issues in my life.  First of all, learning English as a second language was not as easy as I had expected before moving to this English speaking country, because it was really difficult to have successful interactions with English speakers. Second, it was so hard to keep my children’s bilingual ability. These two critical issues led me to explore the field of applied linguistics. While working on my master’s degree in linguistics at San Diego State University, I engaged in crosslinguistic research on the differences between Korean and English child language acquisition and was able to relate research experience with the theories I had been studying; in particular, that of bilingualism and second language acquisition. I also had a wide range of teaching experiences in teaching Korean classes and introductory linguistic classes. Although I loved linguistics, I had a critical moment to ignite my passion for a PhD program in education. One day, my own child suggested that I refrain from using Korean in public because people would think I am ‘stupid’. This unpleasant experience made me realize the pervasive monolingual ideology at educational settings.

Why did I choose UCSB?  In my own quest for a graduate program that would nurture my research interest, I was thrilled with Dr. Jin Sook Lee at UCSB and I was sure that Dr. Jin Sook Lee’s research would make my experience at UCSB challenging and exciting. So I was enormously happy when I got accepted to this program. Furthermore, the Department of Education at UCSB has been putting an emphasis on education practices for a diverse society.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like? I am currently working on the data from Korean-English Two Way Immersion program (a type of bilingual education program). I am interested in the development of bilingual and bicultural competence and the multimodal means of participation in classrooms. I am specifically interested in studying how young bilingual children use two languages at educational settings.

A typical day for me starts with yelling at my teenage boys to wake them up for school. I would sum up my typical day as juggling motherhood and work as a graduate student. Luckily, this juggling has been a great insight for research because my typical days are filled with bilingual interaction!!

What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department?
To be honest, it is like a marathon race to be a graduate student. In order to run the race to the finish line, cultivate your research interests that are related to your own life. Since my research topic are closely related to my own life, I am pretty sure I will be tenacious and persistent until I finally get to the finish line.


Charlyne Sarmiento


I completed my M.A. at the University of Illinois, Chicago in English Studies with an emphasis on rhetorical studies. For my M.A. thesis, I had the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in two Chicago Public schools where I explored the relationship between gentrifying neighborhoods, local educational reforms, and community activism.  Observing rhetoric-in-action within these communities, I was inspired by the rhetorical impact that community members mobilized in order to develop social change within the public school system and their local community.  While this was a life-changing experience, I wanted to go beyond the theoretical and develop my interests in community literacy and rhetoric towards action research in the field of Education.   

Why did I choose UCSB?

My experience teaching First Year Writing at diverse institutions developed my interests to learn more about writing research in higher education. Having worked at the community college level and the four-year university, I wanted to understand how students negotiated their diverse literacy histories with the expectations of the university. I was interested not only in the teaching and learning of writing, but also institutional constraints such as writing placement and curricular alignment between the community college and the research university that provided students different pathways towards their access and retention in higher education. These interests led me to UCSB where I wanted to work with Charles Bazerman and Linda Adler-Kassner. In addition, I was drawn to the program because of the training I would gain in qualitative research methods that would give me more insight to develop my research interests.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?

I am currently working on my independent research project on a writing intensive course at UCSB. Drawing from rhetorical genre theory and qualitative methods, I explore how students and teaching assistants take up new genres by negotiating their prior experiences with similar writing tasks and genres.  For the past year, I have also been working as a Writing Specialist at the California Institute of Technology’s Hixon Writing Center. In addition to working with students to develop as writers, I am working with the Director of the Writing Center to create a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) genre map.  Our goal is to develop a multimodal map that would serve as a resource for students, tutors, and faculty that would illuminate the diverse collection of genres and practices in the STEM fields.

A typical day for me is packed with balancing school (commuting from L.A. to Santa Barbara), work, and family.  This includes reading and re-reading articles, designating time to write, working at Caltech, and enjoying life outside of being a Phd student with my partner and our 2 year-old son.

What advice do I have for incoming students to the Department?

Graduate school is a great opportunity to read and reflect on the work in your field.  Sometimes this can lead you to a ton of endless questions.  While this could be overwhelming when you are trying to focus and complete projects while working towards the dissertation phase, appreciate this opportunity to read, write, reflect, and have faculty to guide you through this journey.  Lastly, I think it is always a good practice to remind yourself what drew you to pursuing graduate school in education in the first place. Oftentimes, it is our experience as learners and teachers that persuaded us to take on the challenges of grad school.  Sometimes this is easy to forget in the day-to-day grind of a graduate student. This simple reminder can reenergize you during this long and challenging journey.