Major(s) and Minor: East Asian Languages and Cultures (Major); History (Major)
Why did you choose East Asian Languages and Cultures as your major?
A lifelong interest in East Asia not only brought me to the Asian Languages and Cultures Department, but to Rutgers altogether. When I was looking to transfer from my original institution in my second year of college, the wide range of courses and disciplines on offer at Rutgers’ ALC led me to Rutgers in Spring 2006.
What did you like most about it?
In addition to the thematic depth of ALC offerings, I found that my mentors in the department to be deeply invested in helping me to learn. To this day, they are among the most patient, giving, and helpful teachers I have encountered. From my Japanese language teachers who would practice with me every week during office hours, to my literature and film professors who introduced me to the best of Chinese and Japanese film, the faculty at ALC gave me so much more than I could ever have hoped for.
What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am currently a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researching Japan’s commercial ports during the interwar period (1918-1941). I love how this program has enabled me to continue my intellectual growth as I research and write my dissertation, while also teaching me what it is like to be part of a university community by providing the opportunity to serve on departmental committees. Teacher training is also a large part of my program, and being at UW-Madison has allowed me to learn how to be a better educator through teaching assistantships, seminars on digital history tools, and a host of pedagogy workshops. Lastly, continuing to work on Japan (my second home) has allowed me to return there many times for research, first on a grant from the SSRC in 2015, then again as a Fulbright fellow from 2016-2017.
What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?
After graduating from Rutgers, I worked in the Fukui Prefectural Government, Japan as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) on the JET Program. I was first introduced to JET by senior students in ALC when I transferred to Rutgers, and was helped through the interview process by my ALC mentors.
How did you move from that first job to your current position?
Since coming to college, I always knew that I wanted to work in higher education. While on the JET Program, I spent my time both thinking carefully as to whether or not graduate school was for me, and once I was sure that I wanted to go on to do my PhD, I spent two years contacting potential advisers at the schools to which I wanted to apply. After deciding on UW-Madison, I moved to Madison after my contract with JET ended in July 2013, and entered my current program in September of that year.
Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?
Make no mistake: Rutgers is a BIG school. But being at a school of that size was instrumental in teaching me how to seek out information, to balance my schedule, and to ask for help when I needed it. “Big” does not always mean that you will simply be another face in the crowd, and my ALC mentors still managed to get to know so many of their students (including yours truly) regardless of whether their class had 20 students or 120.
What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?
1. BE ADVENTUROUS: From studying abroad, to starting a student organization, to springboarding from my undergraduate studies to a career in Japan and in a U.S. graduate institution, I found that the more I pushed myself, the more that I was able to rise to the challenge. The world is an exciting place, and the language- and humanities-focused curriculum of the ALC is a fantastic gateway to all kinds of adventures both during and after your time at Rutgers.
2. THINK BROADLY: As someone who primarily researchers Japan, you would think that I just took classes on Japan, right? Wrong! The best part about ALC is that your classes will take you across East Asia, from survey courses that cover the entire region to the more specialized classes on literature, film, and other areas. Being a part of ALC opens the door to classes on all of these things, so why not make the best of this opportunity and learn a little bit about everything and everywhere in East Asia while you’re at it?
3. BE ONE STEP AHEAD: A degree from ALC can prepare you for so many careers, from teaching abroad to consultancy, law, NPO work, or even academia. I love being in academia, but the language and analytical skills that I learned in ALC are applicable to many, MANY more fields than just higher education. If you’re always on the lookout for what you can do with your degree, you’ll be surprised at just how many options you’ll have.