UF College of Education’s Hyunyi Jung, Ph.D., was honored with the 2024 Early Career Award from the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.
The AMTE Early Career Award is given to mathematics educators who have made distinguishing contributions and have shown exceptional potential for future leadership in teaching, service and/or scholarship. Jung’s dedication to improving mathematical modeling curricula and implementations for marginalized learners, teachers and community members, along with her contributions to research, teaching, service and community engagement, made her the ideal candidate for this honor.
As early as 13 years old, Jung dreamed of becoming a math teacher. This dream continued to develop as she found her passion for academia while earning her teaching certificate in the United States. However, it wasn’t until she had children that she realized she wanted to focus on how social systems influence the learning process. “As my first child grew older, I became increasingly aware of how both he and I were perceived by others, especially because we differed from the majority of other children in his classroom and other places. I constantly felt the need to prove that we didn’t conform to the stereotypes associated with Asians, both in my child’s schools and my workplace.” Jung stated.
“This realization sparked my passion for advocating on behalf of marginalized students and their parents with educational settings.” Jung has been visiting students and teachers in Alachua County Public School classrooms and other community places to learn more about “current systems, teaching and learning practices, and gain insights into how their lives and systems influence their learning.” She also collaborates with students with disabilities and their parents, engaging them in activities and learning from their joy. Furthermore, she has taken the initiative to facilitate mathematics sessions, summer camps and after-school programs offering students, teachers and community members opportunities to explore equitable mathematical modeling and problem solving.
As an immigrant from South Korea, Jung understood first-hand the challenges of pursuing permanent resident status in the United States and the profound impact these challenges can have on an individual’s life and career aspirations. Grateful for her parents’ sacrifices, who dedicated long hours working in South Korea, she appreciates their prioritization and investment in her education. Her parents financially supported her until she could independently cover her tuition through scholarships. Despite their modest lifestyle, her parents extended their generosity to cover the tuition and additional expenses for other students and individuals facing challenges in their lives. Through these experiences, Jung learned the virtues of hard work, education, and helping others. “Values I hope to carry with me throughout my life,” she said.
When asked what advice she would give her students, she encourages them to discover their passion. “Since we spend the majority of our time working each day, I believe that pursuing what you love and are passionate about can fill your every day with moments you truly cherish.”