I was born in a small village of Taiwan where rice fields were the playground for my brother and many sisters. Education, particularly higher education, for women was not encouraged in the village. However, my parents were exception. My father was a public school teacher and my mother worked as a community health worker and a midwife at a local public health center. They knew the value of education and took great financial sacrifices to ensure their eight children (seven girls and one boy) to receive the best education in Taiwan. With their blessings and sacrifices, I left the village and attended high school and college in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. In 1982, I graduated from the National Taiwan University and majored in Sociology and after graduating from college, I worked as research assistant at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan for a year.
I entered the field of sociology by accident and not by choice in the beginning. However, once I was in I fell in love with it. Sociology helps me understand the meaning of every action I or other people take. It makes me become a better person and appreciate what I have. It also provides me with a perspective that is beyond my personal life experiences. It connects me to larger social-cultural, structural and environmental determinants of individual and social actions. To satisfy my curiosity in sociology, I attended Purdue University for my graduate studies. In 1985, I received a M.S. and completed my Ph.D. in sociology from Purdue University 5 years later.
I have been a member of the Sociology Department at Sam Houston State University since 1990 and currently, I am a Professor and the Associate Chair of the Department of Sociology.
Currently, I see myself as a public sociologist and am very active in grassroots or community-based organizations in the Asian-American community. I work closely with them to build the organizational capacities to meet the increasing and often very challenging needs with each community. As a result of these joint efforts, the Asian-American communities in Texas were able to form several consortiums to address the cancer and mental health disparities and reduce the uninsured population through funding supports by the following institutions: Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, US Department of Health and Humans Services-Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Episcopal Health Foundation and Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Classes Taught: Social Statistics, Social Impact Assessment and Program Evaluation, Social Problems
Research Interests: Health Disparities, Quality of Life among Cancer Survivors, Program Evaluation, Community-based Participatory Research
Selected Publications and Grant Activities:
- Deng, Furjen, Ya-Wen (Melissa) Liang, Amanda La Guardia and Helen Sun. 2016. Cancer Support Program for Chinese Immigrant Breast Cancer Survivors. Professional Issues in Counseling.
- Sun, Helen; Furjen Deng and Lei-Shih Chen. Establishing a Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Support Program within Asian American Community in Houston and Austin Areas of Texas. PP160036, Evidence-Based Prevention Programs and Services, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. $1,101,986. 12/01/2015 to 11/30/2019.
- Sun, Helen and Furjen Deng. Project Rise and Shine: Live Life to the Fullest. Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. COC-032. $800,000. 07/01/2019 to 06/30/2024.