by Claire Miller
Carol Ashong, a native of Ghana, first moved in the U.S. in 2003, when she enrolled at Agnes Scott College as a psychology major.
Not only did she have to dedicate herself to her schoolwork, but she also faced the daunting task of acclimating to a new culture.
“It was still a struggle to learn the culture while I was getting an education,” she said.
After earning her psychology degree in 2007, she enrolled in the COE’s Educational Psychology program, where she has earned her master’s degree and is now finishing up her doctoral program.
Ashong brought her unique perspective on international student education to a mini-residency study she completed in 2011, where she surveyed 100 undergraduate and graduate students at Georgia State University about their ideas on education. She’s in the process of analyzing the data from this survey, which also includes details on the participants’ ethnic background, country of origin and other similar information.
“My research is born out of an interest in how people from different cultures define education –where and how it takes place,” Ashong said. “I’m also interested in how people view online learning, and how it fits into their definition and their culture’s definition of education.”
She hopes that her survey will lead to more in-depth interviews with students about their educational experiences and will become the focus of her dissertation moving forward.
Her work in the COE and her experiences in the American educational system also lend themselves to her two major career goals – first, to find a job working with international students in a school system or university; and second, to establish a school in Ghana for students with special needs.
“In Ghana, we have general education schools and then we have schools for kids with severe disabilities, and kids who are caught in between – who are dyslexic or ADHD or have some mild disability – either get stuck in a general classroom and have trouble keeping up or they’re in a classroom with students who have severe disabilities. There’s not really a place for them,” she said. “My long-term goal is to go back home and set up a school or center for children with special needs.”
No matter which path she chooses, Ashong will be able to see her hard work pay off through her students’ daily successes.
“Educational psychology is the right fit for me,” she said. “I want to do something that will help me make a difference, and education is one of those fields where you can really see progress.”
For more information about the Educational Psychology program, visit http://education.gsu.edu/EPSE/4631.html.