A QUICK CHAT WITH FRANCES CHANG (‘12) ABOUT EDUCATION, PSYCHOLOGY, AND BALANCING IT ALL WITH HER CREATIVE OUTLET - MUSIC.
These days, Frances Chang has a full plate to juggle, but she wouldn’t have it any other way! She credits an AISG class for igniting her passion for psychology, which eventually led her to Harvard - and now, a local initiative in Washington, D.C., supporting underprivileged families with young kids.
It’s not surprising that she has gravitated towards working with children. Frances, who has been singing since Elementary School and participated in various choruses, musicals, and a cappella groups, has also served as a children’s music teacher for years. We caught up with her to see what she’s been up to lately!
Tell us a bit about your life after AISG.
After AISG, I attended Wheaton College (MA) for a year and a half, then transferred to Brandeis University. I started out majoring in Music Performance at Wheaton, but decided to change to Psychology when I was at Brandeis. While I was at Brandeis, I studied abroad in Kyoto, Japan, for a semester.
After receiving my Bachelor’s degree, I worked for a year in research and early childhood education, then completed my Masters in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Currently, I am working at the Early Childhood Innovation Network as a Research Specialist.
What does that involve?
The Early Childhood Innovation Network, aims to promote resilience in families and children from birth to five years old in Washington, D.C. Currently, I am working on a few different projects. The main project that I am working on is a collaboration with the DC Department of Health to support low-income families in navigating health, developmental and social services in their communities. We develop, implement and evaluate programs for families with young children. Additionally, I am also involved in other projects that support early childhood educators’ well-being.
What drew you to this field?
I’ve always been interested in the human mind, psychopathology, and helping people. In my IB Psychology class with Mr. O’Hara, I learned the basics and fundamental theories. Outside of class, I volunteered for Helping Hands and had the opportunity to interact with community members who had developmental and learning disabilities. Little did I know, these experiences were setting me up for the career I have now.
In college, I worked in different clinical and developmental psychology laboratories to gain research skills. For instance, I was able to work with different personnel (psychologists, pediatricians, social workers, etc.) in various hospitals and universities. In addition to research, I also taught young children music at a preschool and Gymboree Play and Music. Through my work in both research and education, I found myself wanting to provide more support for children’s development and wellbeing.
How did AISG prepare you for college and work?
AISG definitely provided me with a great foundation. As much as students complained about the rigor and intensity of the IB curriculum, it did help me think more critically and realize my learning style. Interpersonally, AISG gave me opportunities to practice skills such as leadership, collaboration, conflict management and communication.
What advice would you give to AISG students who are considering pursuing the same path?
The field of psychology is quite broad. There are many different tracks (clinical, developmental, social, industrial, organizational, etc.) and paths (research, education, clinical, policy, etc.) you can take. Be open and flexible. Explore different areas and roles by taking classes, connecting with people from the field, and/or doing internships.
A lot of us still remember your performance at the 30th anniversary gala in 2012 - do you still sing?
I am still very much involved in singing and performing. In college, I participated in a cappella groups and performed at campus events. Now, I continue to share my music by recording covers and performing at local events. Singing is my way of balancing life.
For me, singing is a form of self-care and stress relief. It was more difficult to juggle everything I needed to do and sing when I was a student, but nowadays, as a working professional, I have more control over how I want to schedule my off time! Feel free to follow my music on Instagram: @franphran!
Former teacher Crystal Chu, Frances and her classmates in Helping Hands community service group at AISG.
|Frances (4th to the right, back row) at a Let’s Talk conference at Harvard Graduate School of Education.|