Faculty member makes history with dual doctorate

By Philip Hadley
University News Service
December 4, 2007

Hyun Jung Yun

From South Korea she came to the United States as a foreign exchange student. Her friends call her Yunie and if you asked her about her accomplishments she would tell you that she was just an ordinary doctoral student. Two Ph.D.s later, Hyun Jung Yun is now an assistant professor of political science at Texas State University-San Marcos and is anything but ordinary.

At the University of Florida , Yun’s alma mater, she made news when she became the first person in the university's history to complete two Ph.D.s at the same time defending both dissertations within a month of one another.

“It wasn’t something I planned in the beginning,” Yun said. “I had a research idea that crossed two different disciplines. My advisors said they thought it was important for me to understand both fields and help fill in some discrepancies between them.” 

Yun has a Ph.D. in political science and another in journalism and mass communication. Her research is focused on public opinion, geo-politics, and political communication related to campaigning. She said earning both degrees at the same time was not an easy task.

“I was just like a normal Ph.D. student, a lot of late nights and weekends working on things,” Yun said. “At the same time I was also a research assistant and a teaching assistant. I would stay up late, sometimes until two or three in the morning, doing school work and research.”

Yun said she tried hard not to let school consume every aspect of her life and often found relief from schoolwork by attending sporting events.

“At the University of Florida we have a lot of pride in our football and basketball teams,” Yun said. “I’m not the kind of person that would immerse myself completely in school and never get out. I had to find balance between good times and research time.”

Yun’s first semester was comprised of teaching media and public opinion and a graduate seminar in program evaluation. Yun said she is happy to be at Texas State and enjoys her students. One of those students is mass communication senior Maira Garcia from Cuero.

“Yun is very knowledgeable in the area of mass media and political communication,” Garcia said. “She definitely makes the class interesting and very interactive. We have learned a lot about how politicians use the media to their advantage.”

Yun said she plans to continue her research in Texas focusing on minority political communication.

“I want to use some of the resources here in Texas to expand my research,” Yun said. “I would like to focus on political communications in the Hispanic culture. This culture is growing in size and is an increasing segment in political communication.

As for the recognition and media coverage, Yun is modest. She says there are others who deserve it more than her.

“I don’t deserve all the credit,” Yun said. “I contribute my success to all the positive people around me. I was very lucky to have great faculty members, family and friends. All those people deserve to have this honor.

Yun has four peer-reviewed journal articles published, two book chapters and nine encyclopedia entries and has been involved in grant-supported research.