Jessica Cai is a first-generation Chinese American student graduating this spring with bachelor’s degrees in education sciences and English, as well as a minor in Chinese studies. She transferred to UCI from Irvine Valley College after a long stretch of hybrid learning to accommodate her rigorous training and packed schedule throughout 15 years of competitive figure skating and dance. Her experience with online learning, even before the pandemic, sparked her interest in educational technology. The SAGE Scholar has pursued ed tech during her time at UCI through research with a number of labs, including the School of Education’s Science of Learning Lab, where she created an online math course that’s being used in four Orange County schools. Cai has also worked with the Measuring Undergraduate Success Trajectories project since arriving at UCI. Her most recent work has been on how roommates and housing affect the ways in which undergraduates engage with the university.
Can you describe a time you felt most proud to be an Anteater?
I feel proud to be an Anteater when I am representing out in the community or when I meet other Anteaters outside campus, because there is so much support for one another. I was recently at an event and met a couple of Anteaters, and it was amazing to see all the wonderful things everyone is doing outside campus or post-graduation.
What are your plans after graduation?
I will be doing a Master of Education at Harvard this fall in its learning design, innovation and technology program. I’m specifically interested in ed tech and hope to continue to conduct research in this field.
“I have seen her extensive passion for educational technologies blossom into real-world cognitive, pedagogical and behavioral impacts in classrooms across the age span. Her expertise in digital media such as cinematography, online instructional design and user experience design, paired with her breadth of knowledge in conducting high-level academic research in educational spaces, showcases Jessica’s outstanding maturity and depth of character. I cannot wait to see the pivotal work Jessica will continue to produce in the future and the impact she will have in the ed tech community.”– Joseph Wong, doctoral candidate and research fellow in the School of Social Ecology
Who has been your biggest influence at UCI?
My mentor, Joseph Wong, is my biggest influence at UCI. I was super lucky to have met him. He really helped guide my research/academia journey so far and helped me get closer to ed tech research. I learned a lot of skills and knowledge from him relating to both research and just navigating school and grad school applications. I also got to work on some really cool videography projects that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance to.
What advice would you give to your first-year self?
I would tell my freshman self to just try things and to step out of the comfort zone. I think during my time at UCI, I tried a lot of things I had interests in and was really happy that I did, because I always learned something new from every experience and met new people.