Major: East Asian Languages and Area Studies (Japanese concentration); Minor: History
Why did you choose East Asian Languages and Area Studies as your major?
I was really interested in Japanese language and culture throughout high school. I had a chance to visit Japan when I was sixteen, and I loved it so much I became determined to go back for a longer period. These were the reasons I chose to major in East Asian Studies at Rutgers, and I’ve always been glad I did.
What did you like most about it?
It’s difficult to choose one aspect of the program that I liked most. One of my favorite parts was the course options. From language to society, culture, and history, the material was always engaging, and it prepared me for studying abroad in Japan my junior year. Study abroad was another highlight. I spent eleven months in Kyoto at Rutgers’s sister school, Ritsumeikan University, where my knowledge and language skills grew exponentially, where I made friends from around the world, and where I had unforgettable experiences. Finally, I owe much to the faculty in the Asian Languages and Cultures Department, who were there for me every step of the way, whose passion and knowledge were a constant source of inspiration, and who have continued to support me in my post-graduate endeavors.
What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Currently I’m completing a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in International Relations at the University of Oxford. When I applied, I proposed to do research on nuclear issues in Japan and their impact on foreign relations in Asia, although I’ve since then changed topics. My MPhil thesis took a historical approach to International Relations by focusing on nonstate actors in the Age of Sail. I enjoy the academic environment and having the opportunity once again to live abroad while furthering my education.
What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?
My first job was at a medical communications company called Precise Publications, LLC. I first worked for the company part-time during the winter of my senior year, and as I neared graduation I was offered a full-time job as an Editorial Assistant. While medical communications was not my area of expertise, my skills as a writer and researcher came in handy, and I gained valuable professional experience during my three years there.
How did you move from that first job to your current position?
After a few years of working, I decided I wanted to get back to my passion and further my education. I applied to three programs: the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, the Fulbright for teaching English in South Korea, and the MPhil program in International Relations at Oxford. I was accepted to the JET Program and thought I would be going back to Japan to teach English, until I was accepted into Oxford’s International Relations program and decided to go that route instead. My professors and mentors at Rutgers offered me guidance and support at every turn, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.
Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?
In retrospect, the classes that were most important in getting me to my current position were the classes on society, culture, and history. During my first year of studying political science at Oxford, I drew in particular on what I’d learned in classes like Global East Asia, taught by Professor Paul Schalow, and Society and Culture of Japan, taught by Professor Don Roden. Another instrumental experience was my senior thesis, supervised by Professors Schalow and Roden, which took a broad view of the historical development of Japanese nationalism and militarism. Working on that project gave me the foundation necessary for completing my master’s thesis this past year. And of course, studying abroad was a highly formative experience, which was made possible by Rutgers’ study abroad office with the support of the Asian Languages and Cultures department.
What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?
My first piece of advice for current Arts and Sciences students is to take full advantage of the support and guidance offered by Rutgers faculty. The networks I built at Rutgers are still an invaluable source of support for me today, five years after graduation. During my time at Rutgers, the deans and professors were always willing to help and frequently kept their doors open for inquiring students. I would also recommend Arts and Sciences students to study abroad (if their degree allows for the opportunity). Not only is the Rutgers study abroad office a great resource, but in my experience studying abroad is an incredible, unique way to widen your horizons.