Sherrie Lee is The Diasporic Academic

I seek to understand the dynamics of mobility and transition in cross-border contexts such as international education and migration by examining the exchange of language, culture & knowledge. I am interested in building collaborative networks among emerging academics, as well as connecting research with professional practice and policy. You can read my story about becoming a diasporic academic, and find out more about my research on ResearchGate.


I am an independent academic currently based in New Zealand. My research and personal goals converge in the desire to empower newcomers to navigate transitions in their social and cultural environments. My research is concerned with multicultural and transnational communities, and utilizes sociocultural theories and multimodal analytical approaches. I thrive in collaborative environments where I am able to connect researchers across disciplines, and demonstrate how research can enrich various real life domains. I am inspired and guided by the indigenous Māori concept of manaakitanga or having the moral commitment towards building relationships on mutual trust and respect.

Originally from Singapore, I completed my doctoral study at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. My PhD integrated theoretical frameworks in novel ways to understand informal academic learning practices of international students, resulting in a robust theory of brokering. Prior to doctoral studies, I completed a Master of Arts in Teaching (TESOL) at the University of Southern California, and did a narrative case study on the identity of a minority English language learner. I hold a Bachelor of Arts from the National University of Singapore where I majored in English Language and Literature.

A CELTA trained teacher, I was formerly a business communications lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore, and an English teacher in China. I have worked at the Singapore Mediation Centre as a conflict management trainer for business professionals and government representatives. In the early part of my career, I worked in corporate communications in the IT and creative sectors.

I have published widely in a range of disciplines, and won an ISANA International Education Association award for my paper “Seeking Academic Help: A Case Study of Peer Brokering Interactionspublished in 2018 by Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration. I have convened symposia on topics related to international education, and am the convenor for a national symposium on the international student experience in New Zealand. I am on the editorial board of Journal of International Students, and a conference abstract reviewer for NZARE, the New Zealand Association of Research in Education.

I am active in advocacy for international students, especially postgraduate students. I am a past president of, and current mentor to, the Postgraduate Students’ Association at the University of Waikato. I also serve as the secretary of ISANA International Education Association New Zealand, an association for professionals who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education. I am also a regional representative for the International Students and Study Abroad SIG of CIES (Comparative and International Education Society).

My future research goals are to promote culturally-relevant approaches in international education, and enhance emerging academics’ capabilities in transnational contexts. Using my research and professional networks, I envision myself as a broker who facilitates collaborative dialogue between academics and practitioners across cognate disciplines.

Recent blog posts

Travelling between darkness and light: Reflections on lockdown

Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash In the past two months, my world was shaken, stirred, and has only begun to settle. My professional world was squished into a corner of a room with the strongest wifi signal. The physical structures and rhythms of office life were exchanged for self-managing ...
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Using your PhD in a non-academic job

… and staying true to your world-changing aspirations Image by Raam Gottimukkala from Pixabay It has been one year since attending my graduation ceremony at the marae grounds of the University of Waikato. It was a momentous occasion to mark the achievement of attaining a Doctor of Philosophy in Education ...
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Finding my way home

Image by Pexels from Pixabay Finding my way home I left home in a hurryAs I packed five large suitcases and several smaller bagsTold my children about the adventure we were going onSqueezed my husband’s hand as we walked through the departure gateBuckled up, took off, flew through time zones, ...
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Information seeking behaviour of a policy advisor

People whose networks span structural holes have early access to diverse, often contradictory, information and interpretations, which gives them a competitive advantage in seeing good ideas. To be sure, ideas come over a variety of paths from a variety of sources ..., but idea generation at some point involves someone ...
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