Class of 2018: Mark Yu

Originally from Guam, Mark is graduating from the Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science (EP-ADS) program.



How did your journey bring you to Curry?

I became interested in the Curry School's EP-ADS program because of its strengths-based approach to youth development. I was also very excited at the prospect of interdisciplinary collaboration and being able to apply my research in real-world settings.


What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time while you've been here?

​During my time at the Curry School, I have had great opportunities to apply my learning and research. For example, I assisted with the planning and coordination of a community redevelopment project at Friendship Court, a low- income neighborhood in Charlottesville. The project included a series of after-school workshops developed for youth (age 12-17) by a multi-disciplinary team at UVA, including topics related to sustainable land use, urban planning and youth-led community research and evaluation. This past fall, I also assisted with the planning, coordination and evaluation of a Global Leadership Forum on Promoting Gender Equality in Education, which brought 30 emerging leaders from over 25 countries to Charlottesville to examine barriers to gender equality in education, explore innovative ideas and design effective solutions.


If you can, name one person at Curry who has made a special impact during your studies and how?

​It took a village. I have so many people to thank for helping me complete this journey. In particular, Nancy Deutsch​, my advisor, has been an incredible mentor to me these past four years. She challenged me, encouraged me, and provided me with countless opportunities. Under her guidance, I was able to successfully publish papers, present at national conferences, and win several awards and grants. I am especially thankful and honored to have been the recipient of the Curry School's Outstanding Doctoral Student Award and the University-wide Excellence in Graduate Diversity Award - both of which would not have been possible without Nancy's support.


What is one thing you learned here that surprised you?

​Prior to starting my Ph.D. program, I had the impression that graduate school was going to be a difficult and independent process. Although it proved to be even more difficult than I expected, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support that I received and that was available to me at the Curry School. The opportunity to have secondary advisors like Joanna Lee Williams and Valerie Futch Ehrlich has been invaluable. The supportive and collaborative environment at the Curry School was extremely helpful. 


What will you be doing next?

I have some prospects but have not quite decided. But regardless of what I do next, I know that I am more than prepared to continue the important work of understanding and promoting positive youth development.