Professor Soogwan Doh (PhD, Public Policy, '10)

The power of mentorship--and conversation over poker

Professor Soogwan Doh (PhD, Public Policy, '10)
Soogwan Doh

 Tell us about your career journey.

I graduated from George Mason in 2010 with a Ph.D. degree in Public Policy and a concentration in regional studies. Following a period as a postdoctoral fellow at Sungkyunkwan University I became a faculty member in the department of public administration at Catholic University of Daegu. Over the 10 years taught there, I was able to gain a lot of know-how in teaching, academic research, and school services. Since 2020 I have started a new life as a professor at my other alma mater, the University of Ulsan. I am also serving as associate dean of the Graduate School of Public Policy there. At Ulsan, I want to devote myself to my juniors until the day I retire. 

What was the highlight of your Mason experience?

The most important thing was to meet my academic advisor, Dr. Roger R. Stough who passed away in 2019. He was like a father to me and helped me grow up to be a scholar. I especially miss him, and I am always grateful to him. There were also many other generous professors for whom I am thankful, such as Dr. Kingsley E. Haynes, Dr. Zoltan Acs, Dr. Connie L. McNeely, Dr. Edmund J. Zolnik, and so on at Mason. They provided me strong support.

The second import thing was to enjoy my life with my colleagues and to understand American society. Some classes were a little bit difficult to follow as English is my second language. But I got help from my colleagues and professors, so I was able to fully understand the contents of the classes. In addition, I often enjoyed playing poker with my colleagues, and it helped me develop my English skills. We talked about various public policy issues at the poker night and this discussion was very helpful for me to understand American politics and society.

The final thing was to have lots of opportunities to attend domestic and international academic conferences to present my academic research papers. Although I already got full scholarship and stipend, Mason gave me the graduate student travel fund for the purpose of supporting graduate student attendance at professional and scholarly meetings. These kinds of opportunities at Mason allowed me to grow up well as a scholar of public policy 

There are many other things, but I want you to enjoy them there yourself.

What is your career advice for Mason students or alumni who may consider working in Korea?

For students who are interested in pursuing public policy related jobs, I want to emphasize taking advantage of George Mason’s abundance of resources. I recommend attending various academic conferences, domestic and international. Mason already gave me a lot of chances to attend domestic and international academic conferences. There are also alumni career services such as mentoring, the Schar School LinkedIn Group, Handshake, and a career services section of the Schar School website to learn about more job opportunities and services. Reaching out to the public policy professors at Mason Korea and Mason Fairfax or Arlington is also important if you ever need help or wish to work with them. They are super helpful and reliable for you to grow up to be a good scholar. 

 What does the future hold for you?

Currently, I am one of the faculty members in Department of Public Administration at University of Ulsan. As an academic researcher in the areas of social capital, social innovation, social economy, and civil society, I want to gain a deeper understanding of the valuable life in our society. As Albert Einstein said, "Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value."  I want to live a valuable life in the future. Just as I achieved my dream here at my alma mater, I also hope my juniors can achieve their own dreams in the future.