Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Deborah P. Bloch

Second Advisor

Virginia T. Shimabukuro

Third Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad


Teacher shortage and retention has persisted in the United States for decades. Ethnic minority teachers are underrepresented in public K-12 schools as well as teachers for English learners. Untapped pools of overseas-trained teachers who are lawful permanent residents exist but are unemployed, underemployed, or working in other fields. To earn a local teaching credential, the immigrant bears the burden of proving equivalent knowledge and skills to re-enter her or his profession in the United States. At the time of this study, there was no research about overseas-trained immigrant teachers entering the teaching profession for primary and secondary public school students in United States.
Utilizing life story interviews and complexity theory, this study explored the relationship between career decisions and the social context of history, culture, and economic forces of five Chinese overseas-trained teachers who became public school teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Analysis attended to career attractors, aspirations, mobility, and commitment to learn how the participants became teachers, what they felt during their process of becoming teachers in their homelands and in California, and what their experiences meant to them.
Geographic location, its history, and parent expectations were the initial conditions instrumental to the participants' interests, education, identity, and career choice. Their decision to immigrate to the United States also meant being open and adaptable. Opportunities to re-enter the teaching profession called to participants' value of their prior experiences, commitment to teaching, and attraction to regain their identity as teachers.
In addition, the participants perceived that policy makers, credentialing institutions, and school principals had a narrow understanding of overseas-trained immigrant teachers' assets--prior knowledge, work experience, and transferable skills. Strict requirements and practices hampered rather than facilitated employment in California public schools for this group.
This study filled a gap in research and contributed to the understanding of one group of overseas-trained immigrant teachers and the interrelationship between individual agency, career decisions, and the contexts of social worlds. The research concluded with recommendations for practice and future research that considers the assets and benefits of overseas-trained immigrant teachers for the nation's teaching force.