Department of Educational Leadership and Policy alumna Gigi Do (Ph.D., 2016) has been named the executive director of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) Office of International Programs.
Do’s research delves into student financial aid, lenders, and their impact to students in higher education, and the history of African American college students’ access to higher education in Texas from the Post-Civil war era to the present.
“Being a Ph.D. graduate from the Program in Higher Educational Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin, one of the top graduate programs in country, definitely gave UTSA the confidence to have me direct their international operations: the scholars services, international student services, and study abroad programs.”
“Having been a refugee from Vietnam as a child, my interest has always been in global education. I identify with many students with a diverse background, and I can help them to become successful by using my own experience. I also want domestic students to learn about the world so they can become world-engaged. I love our UT motto, ‘What starts here changes the world.’”
When she was accepted into the College of Education, Do said she had the difficult task of trying to juggle her professional, educational, and family life from across cities.
Said Do, “I drove 72,000 miles from my home in Houston to Austin over the years to obtain my Ph.D. When I was accepted to the PHEL program, I was working full time in Houston, but I was not going to pass up this prestigious opportunity. I managed to drive to Austin three times a week during those years to complete my studies while working full time and having two young children,” said Do.
“I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful encouragement from my chair and committee. Richard Reddick was my chair, and he was always pushing me to probe more for my research. Victor Saenz and Pat Somers were also on my committee, and not only were they brilliantly helpful, they always had solutions for me. I cannot say enough about my appreciation for my dissertation committee. I am proud of the fact that I refused to let distance keep me from accomplishing a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. This degree opened many opportunities for me,” said Do.
Using Her Degree
Since graduating, she has worked at various universities to establish student enrollment in international communities through positions such as a consultant for Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Medical School to help Vietnam open their first international medical school in Hanoi. Of the training and research she did in her graduate program, she said learning about the history of higher education in the U.S. was helpful and fascinating.
“Having been a long-time college administrator in Texas, I worked with the existing educational system. But having the knowledge of its history certainly helped for me to see better of how and why things are the way they are.”
“Be engaged. Keep all your contacts while in the PHEL program. Your fellow classmates are among the top people in the education field ,and they can offer you many wonderful suggestions and recommendations,” said Do. "I would also recommend new students to start early in defining your dissertation topic so you can identify your dissertation committee. Get to know them and always offer your ideas and proposals.”