Learning to teach. Teaching to learn.
Picture a child in China preparing for an exam. Not reading a book or taking notes, but instead standing alone in her room, leading an imaginary class, teaching the subject she was supposed to be studying.
Brooke Wang was that child, who then grew into the woman who became the mother who earned her PhD at the Tippie College of Business.
She recalls fondly those childhood days that helped shape her.
“I pretended I was a teacher because to be a teacher is to have a big picture of the subject matter and understand the materials thoroughly,” she says. “That really helped me review for my exams.”
Before enrolling at Tippie, Brooke had already completed her undergraduate work in finance, she had two graduate degrees (one from SUNY Buffalo in quantitative finance and a second in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina-Columbia), and she had completed two years of PhD studies at South Carolina.
Then she decided to transfer.
“I applied to many schools,” she says. “I chose the Tippie College of Business because of its very good historical placement profile. The research productivity by faculty and alumni was also very, very high. Plus, it has a strong historical reputation as a research university in finance.”
At Tippie, Brooke’s research focused on corporate finance with a concentration on climate, finance, and environmental, social and governance (ESG). Important work.
“I'm interested in how climate risk affects firm behavior. Additionally, I worked on traditional corporate finance topics, such as capital structure and innovation.”
Brooke’s ultimate goal isn’t short term. She doesn’t simply want to achieve her PhD.
“My goal is to become an influential researcher and professor,” she says. “I am passionate about my research and hope my papers will make a difference one day.”
“PhD students are required to have a dissertation to graduate,” she continues. “But I want more than that. I want to make a difference. I enjoy doing research. I’m strongly motivated.”
Brooke wants to be a tenured professor because that will allow her to further her research while also teaching students.
“I really like to spend time with undergraduate students,” she says. “Based on my years of study, I can relate to what they are thinking. I can use my own experience to help them. I can understand and acknowledge their stress.
As the mother of a 5-year-old child, Brooke knows a thing or two about stress.
“When I joined the Tippie College of Business,” she says, “my son was just four months old. Time spent with him reduced the total time I had for my studies. Balancing work and family life with a little baby while completing PhD studies was especially difficult. But my productivity increased because I knew I had limited time. I needed to work hard and be efficient. Should I have had a baby while completing my PhD? I felt like, ‘Oh, it's not possible,’ but I did it!”
Brooke credits her colleagues and professors at Tippie for much of her success.
“Academics in general is a close community and the relationships I’ve made at Iowa will last a long time. It’s competitive, but it's also small and collaborative. We ask each other’s advice, discuss research, and work together.”
Does she have any advice for students considering Iowa and the pursuit of a PhD?
“Getting a PhD can be a very challenging process,” she says. “It requires several years of intensive research and coursework. So many obstacles along the way. But that's OK. Don't give up. Just enjoy the research process, work hard, and focus on the long-term goal.”
Next for Brooke is a position at Miami University of Ohio where she will be a tenure track assistant professor in finance.
“I’m excited. I hope to achieve successful academic advancement, keep publishing my papers, and teach new classes of students.”
Teaching in a real classroom with real students…a long way from a little girl’s room in China.