Living your passion: How the intersection of two cultures inspired a career in school psychology

Sarah Bae - Chapman University, Orange CA

Meet Sarah Bae

Sarah Bae is a grad student at Chapman University where she is focusing on School Psychology in her pursuit of a License in Professional Clinical Counseling (LPCC). Last week at the NASP conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Sarah was awarded the 2019 NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship. Established in 1995, the NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship Program supports graduate training for minority students who are pursuing careers in school psychology.

Influenced by two cultures, Sarah grew up in California but has strong roots in Korea. Her parents are Korean immigrants who made it a priority for Sarah to experience Korean culture in her everyday life. Growing up in the United States while being immersed in Korean culture at home helped give Sarah an appreciation for the importance of others’ cultures and beliefs. Realizing those differences is not only a big part of her identity, but has also inspired Sarah’s future.

Discovering the field of school psychology

Beginning with an internship in high school where she worked with children with autism, Sarah’s interest was sparked and her journey began. Through that early experience, and looking back over four years as a behavior therapist, along with her involvement in advocacy and awareness programs, Sarah can trace her discovery of the field of school psychology and says she is very passionate to see “how education, disability awareness, and advocacy can intertwine.”

Throughout her academic career, Sarah has worked with children of all age groups, but finds that her favorite and most rewarding work is with Pre-K ages and younger. Working with this age group, Sarah recognizes how having a relationship with the child’s parents — and being part of a larger team of caregivers — can have a strong impact on a child’s development.

Winning the scholarship

Sarah is very passionate about future opportunities to grow the school psychology field in other countries. Past experiences have helped her realize how mental health awareness and education can be adversely impacted by cultural stigmas. Winning the NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship inspires Sarah to “ hard here [at Chapman]” so that she can help families of diverse cultures in the future.

Encouraged by mentors

Sarah’s greatest mentor? Her mom, Kristi Bae, who according to Sarah is “the hardest working person I know and she encourages me to pursue all of my dreams.” Sarah is also “...blessed with this amazing faculty!” at Chapman, and says Dr. Griffiths and Dr. Busse have been especially helpful mentors along her education journey.

Through an opportunity with Chapman, and guided by Dr. Griffiths, who is originally from South Africa, Sarah visited Cape Town where she and a group of student-colleagues spent time in the Langa Township working with an afterschool STEM program. While there, the group learned more about the education system and the impact that racism and aparthheid can have on education.

What’s next

After graduating next year, Sarah will begin work as a school psychologist in California, while also taking advantage of opportunities to work internationally during summer breaks. In time, she will gain enough hours to sit for the LPCC exam. She wants to gain some experience in the field, then eventually pursue her PhD.

On behalf of Pearson, our sincerest congratulations, Sarah! And our very best wishes as you continue your studies and make a valuable contribution to the field of school psychology!