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Student makes UF history: She graduates with 2 Ph.D.'s

And to think that seven years ago, she spoke limited English.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER, Times Staff Writer
Published August 10, 2007


Her name is Hyun Jung Yun,but friends and professors call her Yunie. She has a soft voice and a sweet giggle, and is the kind of person who downplays her accomplishments.

Talk to Yunie for a few minutes, though, and you can't help but think: "I am such a slacker."

Yunie will graduate Saturday from the University of Florida with two Ph.D.'s. Yes, two. One in communications, the other in political science. That means the 29-year-old completed two sets of qualifying exams, two book-length dissertations, and two grueling defense sessions. All at the same time.

UF officials can't find evidence that anyone has ever earned two at the same time.

For Yunie, the accomplishment is especially impressive: She moved here from South Korea just seven years ago, speaking limited English.

The Times talked to Yunie recently about her accomplishment:

 

Did you ever get frustrated or stressed out and think you couldn't do it?

Well, yes. I don't have much time to go to movie theaters or to spend with my friends. But I survived.

 

What's a typical day been like for you as a student?

My research time starts around after dinner time and goes until like 3 o'clock in the morning. I'm a late riser, so I start again at 9 or 10 in the morning.

 

Did you give yourself any free time for fun?

We have football season and basketball season, and every time we had a game, I was lucky to escape my research for game days. I love the sports here.

 

What will you do with these Ph.D.s?

I want to do more research. I also want to be a really, really good teacher. I have a job at Texas State University, starting Aug. 22. Assistant professor in political science. Texas is a big university. I'm excited. A little bit scared.

 

What does your family think of all this?

I am from a big, conservative family. We have sort of like arranged marriages. I have three siblings. I'm kind of a rebel in my family. I'm the only person to continue my education from so far away. My father had a hard time understanding this in the beginning. But now he is so proud of me.

 

So does your mom think you should be married and settled down by now?

(Laughs) Yes. I am the only one who is close to 30 years old and never married. Now my father says he doesn't care who it is, but he wants me to get married this year.

 

Did you ever anticipate making UF history?

(Giggles) No, I didn't plan to. And I didn't realize it was going to be so much work. Now I just feel like it's nothing big. I'm just a Ph.D. student like all the others.