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Jung Kwak

Q&A with Jung Kwak, PhD, MSW, FGSA, from the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas

kwakMeet Jung.

“I just found the aging experience to be a fascinating field to study and learn about. It is an inevitable experience for most of us who are lucky to grow old and yet, there is so much diversity in it.”

Q: How long have you been a GSA member?
A: I have been a GSA member since 2001, when I was a first-year graduate student in the Aging Studies PhD program at the University of South Florida. Among many GSA member benefits I like are subscription to the Gerontologist and Journal of Gerontology, GSA Connect, discount rate to attend the annual GSA meetings, opportunities to connect and network with colleagues across the world. As a gerontologist, I think the GSA membership is a must. I am also the current chair of the GSA’s Minority Issues in Gerontology Committee.

Q: How has membership in GSA benefited you?
A: GSA membership has benefited greatly at so many levels. However, if I were to pick one, I would say it is the opportunities to meet, learn from and collaborate with colleagues with similar/common interests in aging research.

Q: How did you get interested in the field of aging?
A: I just found the aging experience to be a fascinating field to study and learn about. It is an inevitable experience for most of us who are lucky to grow old and yet, there is so much diversity in it.

Q: How do you feel GSA serves the field of gerontology and aging research?
A: It is important for others to join GSA because GSA is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization in the field of aging research, practice, and education, and fosters collaboration between scholars from various disciplines.

Q: Are you a member of a GSA Interest Group? If so, which ones?
A: Hospice, palliative, and end-of-life care interest group.

Q: What are your key responsibilities at your job?
A: I am associate professor in the School of Nursing at The University of Texas at Austin. My responsibilities include teaching, research, scholarship, and service.

Q: What is your most memorable research/patient experience?
A: When I was a first-year doctoral student, I submitted a term paper on cultural diversity at the end of life. With the persistent encouragement and mentorship from my professor, I was able to turn it into a manuscript, which was published in The Gerontologist two years later. This experience has not only shaped my program of research but also helped me appreciate the value and meaning of mentorship.

Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?
A: Stay focused, persistent, and open-minded.

Q: Tell us a little about your most recent activities/accomplishments.
A: Recently, my colleagues and I completed data collection and analysis on end-of-life decision-making and communication among persons with dementia and their family caregivers in rural areas.

Q: Have you had an important mentor in your career? If so, how did it make a difference?
A: I learned and benefitted so much from amazing mentors. They include my mentors during my doctoral training: Professors Bill Haley, PhD, FGSA, and David Chiriboga, PhD, FGSA, at the University of South Florida, and Larry Polivka, PhD, FGSA, at the Florida State University, as well as my post-doctoral fellowship training mentor, Professor Emeritus Rhonda Montgomery, PhD, FGSA.

Want to ask Jung a question? Contact her on GSA Connect!

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