Shaohua Pei

Shaohua "Linda" Pei aspires to become a faculty member or administrator in international higher education. When she isn’t on campus or working on her research projects, she enjoys doing extracurricular activities with her kids or traveling with family.

Linda Pei’s personal experiences fuel her research

Coming from a rural community in China to the U.S. as a first generation college student, Linda witnesses the challenges international students come across. After completing her master’s degree she became a faculty member at a university in China.

Working as a faculty member, she discovered the prevalence of unevenly allocated resources in the higher education setting. Unable to find a solution to the problem, she decided to pursue her Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy at Iowa State University in hopes of finding answers.

“Currently I’m working on the microaggression experience, which refers to the subtle, either verbal or nonverbal, unpleasant experience of Asian international students,” said Linda.

Her research led Linda to apply for the Global Student Scholarship, provided by the University of Michigan. This was the first year the scholarship for the Michigan Mixed Methods workshop was provided. Linda was one of two students internationally who received this award.

“I learned how to design and define my research in an organized and much more logical way,” said Linda. “I was so fortunate to be awarded this scholarship. This workshop helped provide me with really constructive feedback.”

Linda attributes her award partially to her research topic. She chose this topic after finding herself in the transition from faculty member to student. Balancing class and work, cultural barriers, and normal day-to-day problems are all struggles Linda faces. She hopes, through her research, to solve these issues for not just herself but others in this situation as well.

“The most rewarding part of my research is the farther I go the more clearly I see what I want to accomplish in the future,” said Linda. “I continue to re-shape myself, and I really value that aspect because it’s my life and it’s full of choices.”

Not only does Linda’s research further impact her personal experiences, she is grateful for what it can do for others.

“I can broadly bring my knowledge to the people surrounding me in the U.S. and China,” she said. “That’s really rewarding to me.”

Linda believes her pinpoint focus plays an important aspect in her successful research. Narrowing her research focus makes her more efficient not only in the lab but in the classroom as well. She advises other students who want to further their research in a successful way to do the same.

“Really find one focus,” she said. “Focusing on one point makes it easy to build off of during each class by not starting from the beginning each time. Secondly, reach out to different resources whether that be professors, your adviser, peers, or colleagues.”