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A bite-mark was not left on my arm but in my memory from my cousin who suffers Down syndrome when I was eleven. During all the years I babysat her till college, I witnessed how she turned into the angriest person from the sweetest little girl due to internal depression and external rejection. She is the trigger of my concerns for the less fortunate ones. After years of study and half a year’s work, what I have experienced made me clear that PhD program of kinesiology should be my best choice.
Studying abstruse physics theories and conducting experiments in the laboratories, I also devoted myself to teaching middle school science at New Oriental Education and Technology Group Inc. during undergraduate life. After successfully challenging students’ stereotype of science being futility at adult life, I aroused their interests in physics by creative curriculum designs and proper positive reinforcements. I found that stimulating students to start their scientific adventure and explore further is more treasurable than my own scientific accomplishments. Hence, becoming an outstanding educator could make me one step closer to my longstanding dreams of benefiting youths with disabilities like my cousin and creating a warmer and friendlier social climate for them.
With this ambition, I studied Educational Administration at The Ohio State University (OSU). I advanced my skills as an emergent school leader through innovative approaches and learnt how to collaborate with district administrators and teachers to solve both instructional and management problems. This two-year program concretized my dream further. Specifically, I was deeply inspired by Dr. Samuel R. Hodge and his course “Introduction to the Adapted Physical Education”. He took me into the field of Adapted Physical Education (APE) and equipped me with practical knowledge of how to teach physical activities to persons with disabilities in various settings.
Along with the course, the Adapted Physical Activity Program is additional unforgettable experience, which made me a more qualified educator. In this program, I prepared and conducted lesson plans with participants weekly, designed and led group activities, and developed participants’ social skills along with physical activities. Those achievements led me into profound reflections: How would physical interaction improve participants? What kind of physical activities would be most beneficial for specific participants with different disabilities levels? The first participant I cooperated with would always hesitate to enter the pool whatever new strategies I tried in every pool session. Eventually, it turned out that the main reason lay in his physical condition with auditory disabilities, blocking him from expressing himself properly in words, while I pitifully failed to reach the root of the matter via solely observing his behavior. Both my cousin and that little boy belong to the disadvantaged group who are hardly capable of uttering their feelings and thoughts verbally, and the cumulated experiences made my wills stronger to go further into the research of how we can identify their thoughts and behaviors in physical activities through multiple degrees of observations.
Four years of painstaking biophysics study has set a strong foundation of analytical skills and scientific research skills to me, since science involves a lot of complex designs, experiments and even principles generalization. Transferring major area from physics to education, one thing always holds firm on me is my persistence of researching. For instance, case study, as the “way of framing a particularity (bounded unit)” (Swales, 2004), is one of the main qualitative research approaches in the APE field. Bringing about practical creativity, I want to introduce quantitative research methods into the regular qualitative case study methods and provide more solid arguments and evidence, especially for determining the real intention behind superficial behaviors.
Additionally, regarding to my career experiences as a special project coordinator in Educational Solutions Company, my study background of double disciplines is of great use in my work in regard of processing the data, analyzing the test scores and applying analysis results into instructional strategic decisions. However, as another strong motivation, the more students I got in touch with, the more urgent a need of theoretic guidance became. In OSU, I met many reliable professors who had supported me, which in turn made me further believe that I should also improve myself to be such an educator who can apply relevant theoretical knowledge to instructional practices, design and conduct research to answer specific questions, and most importantly, prepare more educators with constructive and effective feedbacks.
On top of that, the program of Kinesiology, with the specialization in Adapted Physical Education in Department of Human Sciences is one of the top programs in the field, and I would be so honored to be a part of it. I hope I can utilize quantitative research models to improve educators’ comprehension level for the students with limited expression skills. Additionally, I also want to create an inclusive learning environment for students with special need in General Physical Education and benefit them both mentally and socially. Given an opportunity, I’m confident that I can make a great contribution to this program and we can make a difference together.
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