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Alumni News

Samantha Chen, BA in International Studies and Japanese, 2016

I graduated from Emory in Spring 2016, where I majored in International Studies and Japanese Studies. I am grateful to all of my Japanese professors who supported me throughout my time at Emory, specifically Dr. Bullock, Professor Crowley, and Professor Takeda. These professors were wonderful in encouraging me in this major. Studying abroad in Japan really cemented my admiration for Japan, and made me love my majors even more - International Studies is a good major for seeing the big picture in the world, while Japanese allowed me to study a specific area and focus in on their issues, their culture, and their language. In my senior year, I wrote a thesis on Japanese minority rights, where I analyzed the Japanese perceptions of their own minorities through the lens of a Japanese human rights museum. My background in international relations inspired me to combine the two for this thesis, as I discovered a passion for human rights in my junior year. Because of this, I applied for and was accepted to an internship program in New York where, through the Bard Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) program, I interned at the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs. This experience was very educational and inspiring, as it made me decide to look for nonprofit work. I worked as an AmeriCorps at the Oklahoma Center For Nonprofits for two years. I began graduate studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where I will be studying International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution and Humanitarian Studies. After graduation, I intend on pursuing international nonprofit work in the future, with an emphasis on East Asia.

Carolyn Whittingham, BA in Japanese and Anthropology, 2015

From before my Emory journey began, I had a fascination with Japan and its alluring and esoteric culture that was so very different from the one I was raised in. This keen interest led me to major in both Japanese as well as Anthropology during my years at Emory, and to constantly seek out ways I could find intersectional ties between my two majors. As a result, I focused my coursework on linguistics, and East Asian history and literature to deepen my understanding as much as possible. The programs at Emory allowed me to have the kind of flexibility so that I was truly able to craft an academic plan that appealed to my interests all along the way.

Thanks to the multitude of resources and the outpouring of support from the REALC faculty, I was able to acquire the American Association of Teachers of Japanese Bridging Scholarship, and spent three semesters studying abroad in the Osaka, Hokkaido and Kyoto prefectures of Japan. In my final year, knowing that my time in the Japanese program would be coming to end shortly, I decided undertake the final challenge I could as an undergraduate and entered the Emory College Honors Program. With hard work, perseverance, access to the university's on-site and extended network of academic assets, and the expert guidance of Dr. Julia Bullock among others, I spent the year writing a thesis for the Japanese department which incorporated my anthropological interests. I was therefore able to graduate with High Honors in Japanese, and an immeasurable sense of satisfaction, pride and gratitude that I was able to pursue my dreams with the aid of everyone in REALC who stood behind me.

After graduating from Emory in 2015, I went on to spend a year in Iwamizawa, Hokkaido teaching elementary and junior high school students English as a part of the JET Programme. Currently, I am working at the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation as a Translator/Bilingual Administrative Assistant, and my hope is to pursue further studies and one day become involved in the localization of Japanese media/literature.

Courtney Wade, BA in Psychology & Linguistics and a Minor in Japanese, 2014

Between the Linguistics half of my major and my Japanese studies, I spent a lot of time in the REALC department and thoroughly enjoyed applying knowledge of second language learning to my Japanese language studies and to Linguistics Circle discussions. I studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University for the Fall semester of my junior year, and had such a wonderful experience that I was determined to return to Japan. I was otherwise unsure of what I wished to do in the future, but my resolve to live in Japan along with my interest in language learning encouraged me to try to become an Assistant Language Teacher. I applied for and was accepted into the JET Program and moved to Japan the summer after graduation. 

Now, I’m in my third year teaching high school in Himeji. It has been exciting and rewarding to watch the students grow, and to grow myself as a teacher and as a person.

Post-JET, I will be pursuing my master's degree at American University in the International Training and Education Program with the hopes of entering a career in study abroad. My goal is to help others have enriching experiences learning foreign languages and studying other cultures abroad.

Ji Eun Kim, BBA and BA in Japanese, 2013

My name is Ji Eun Kim, and I graduated in the Spring of 2013 with concentrations in Marketing and Information Systems & Operation Management in addition to a double major in Japanese Studies.  I began studying Japanese in middle school, and Emory offered me an opportunity to continue studying not only the language but also various aspects of culture, history and literature.  In my extracurriculars, I participated in the Japanese Language Culture Club, the Japanese Speech Contest and the EPASS program as a Japanese tutor.  I wrapped up my coursework in Japanese with an Honors Thesis.  This project in particular helped me to hone time management, communication and research skills, all of which I've found invaluable in the professional world.

Currently, I am working as a Marketing Coordinator and Social Media Manager at a broadcasting company in DC.  I plan to get an MBA in International Business within the next five years and find a full-time job where I can apply my background in Japanese and love for traveling.

Andres Oliver, BA in Creative Writing and Japanese, 2013

I always wanted to learn Japanese but didn't find a chance to begin my studies until coming to Emory. In addition to taking four years of language and culture classes, I spent my entire junior year abroad in Kyoto through the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, which really allowed me to hone my language skills by putting me up with a host family. After graduating from Emory, I moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing. A series of internships and part-time jobs landed me a position as an editorial assistant with Junior Library Guild, a children’s/young adult book review and distribution service.

It was while working with JLG that I started considering the possibility of returning to Japan. I applied to the JET Programme in November and learned several months later that I had been accepted. I am now halfway through my second year as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Aomori City, where I teach English to over 700 elementary and middle school students. I have enjoyed my time here immensely, not only because of the chance to explore Japan once more, but also because I have been able to develop my professional skills by directing workshops, assisting with a summer camp, and acting as a presenter at the annual ALT conference, among other opportunities.

I am currently applying to several Master’s programs in International Education with the ultimate aim of pursuing a career in study abroad. Though I don’t foresee a future for myself in the classroom, I know the teaching experience I have gained as an ALT will serve me well in my future graduate work.

Alexander Bruess, BA in East Asian Studies, Minor in Religion, 2012

As an East Asian Studies major at Emory I enjoyed taking the wide variety of courses that the program offered.  From Korean History to Confucian Classics to Modern Japanese Literature, the EAS Program provided me with a broad, comprehensive understanding of this area of the world.  After graduating with a major in EAS and a minor in Religion, I returned to my home state of Iowa and was recently awarded the Iowa Sister States Yamanashi Prefecture Research Scholarship.  The scholarship will allow me to spend nine months in Japan while I expand upon a topic I explored in an East Asian Buddhism class at Emory.  In particular, my research will revolve around a news story I found in the Japan Times a few years ago:

I am interested in exploring other ways that Buddhist institutions in Japan have reached out to attract a newer, younger audience. Are the Ryoho Temple¿s actions a singular case?  Or are more shrines and temples in Japan also willing to cast aside traditional values in order to shape themselves into something more appealing to the country's youth?   During my time in the country, I will visit temples in Tokyo, Osaka, and less commercialized parts of Japan to document this phenomenon and further explore the symbiotic relationship that Buddhism shares with Japan¿s pop culture industry.  After the project is finished, I hope to use my experiences as an EAS at Emory and a Yamanashi Scholar as a springboard into graduate work as I pursue a PhD in Japanese history.

Update (April 2014): Alex has been admitted to the MA program in East Asian Studies at Stanford University with both tuition and FLAS scholarships, and will begin his studies there in fall of 2014.

Homin Kim, BA in International Studies and Japanese, 2012

My name is Homin Kim and I graduated in Spring 2012 with a double major in International Studies and Japanese.  I deeply enjoyed all of my classes in both majors, and they have all helped me to develop knowledge and understanding of the different cultures that exist in our world today.  The classes that I took in the International Studies program brought together multiple disciplines to understand the wide variety of factors that affect the politics of a region.  The classes that I took for my Japanese major allowed me to develop a multi-faceted knowledge of not just the language, but the rich culture and history that makes up Japan today. 

Upon graduation, I worked as a teacher in the elementary level while preparing for graduate school.  Currently, I have accepted the offer of admission from the University of Chicago for their Master of Public Policy program, where I hope to complete my degree in International Policy. 

Elizabeth Soyeon Ahn, BA in Sociology, Minor in Japanese, 2011


I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2011 with Sociology major and Japanese minor. I took Japanese language, culture, and/or literature courses every semester that I was at Emory. I was accepted to Hokkaido International Foundation study abroad program with full scholarship in 2011, but was not able to participate, as Emory cancelled all summer programs in Japan that year due to the T¿hoku earthquake and tsunami. Since graduation, I took 2 gap years and worked as a medical assistant at a private ophthalmologist¿s office and as an import specialist at a freight forwarding company. I became a U.S. citizen, a godmother of a beautiful girl, travelled to NYC, D.C., Orlando, Turkey, South Korea, and Mexico where I met great people and made great friends. Currently I am an M.D. candidate attending Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. I am serving as Co-President of MCG Psychiatry Student Interest Group and planning to work in a lab that studies depression, insomnia, and suicide during this summer, 2014.

Travis Beaton, BA in International Studies and Minor in Japanese, 2011

My name is Travis Beaton and I am a recent graduate of Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences. While at Emory, I majored in International Studies with a concentration in Conflict & Security in Asia, and minored in Japanese. Upon graduating from Emory in May 2011, I enrolled in law school at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. I chose Tulane in part because of its excellent International & Comparative Law curriculum, and I hope to pursue a certificate in the program. I believe my Japanese minor and my studies in the Russian and East Asian Languages and Culture department at Emory have given me the needed expertise and skills to pursue a career in International Law. Not only were my Japanese language skills strengthened through my studies with Professors Nishi and McDaniel, but my studies of Japanese history, society, and literature with Professors Bullock and Crowley have given me unique perspectives on, and shown me new approaches to, the study of international cultures that I believe will prove invaluable to me in my future endeavors.

Sylvia "Cullen" Gardepe, BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2011

I majored in Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2011. Dr. Julia Bullock was one of my thesis advisers, since a large portion of my thesis focused on Japanese comics. Since graduation, I've been working on getting my MFA in sequential art from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Here is a link to my new blog: In addition to the random art school assignments and doodles I post on that blog, I'll be doing a one-page illustration for a collection of short stories based on a new small-press comic series called Princeless. Princeless is a fun, "girl-power" fairy tale comic for all ages, and I'm really looking forward to being part of the project ( 

Carlina Iman Anthony, BBA and BA in Japanese, 2010

I started undergrad in Fall 2006 as a National Merit, National Achievement, and Lettie-Pate Whitehead Scholar. I studied Japanese and Spanish in the College of Arts and Sciences and interned at the Georgia Japanese language school during my sophomore year. I was a tutor in Japanese and worked for the Goizueta MBA admissions office as a work-study assistant. In 2009, I earned the Excellence in Japanese Language award in the College and the Employee of the Year Award from the MBA admissions office. I graduated in May 2010 with a Bachelors of Business Administration in accounting and a double-major in Japanese.

Since graduating, I've worked as an accountant in the Washington, DC area, primarily focusing on nonprofits and NGOs. I have worked for aid organizations with operations in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, translated financial documents from Japanese to English, and worked with corporations based in Italy and France. I passed my CPA Exam in 2010 and completed my CPA license requirements in 2012. I plan to earn my MBA in global management, and my long-term career goal is to work in finance or accounting for an international humanitarian organization. In June of 2012, I was accepted into a 2-year MBA program at Thunderbird. I also recieved a "Global Mindset" merit scholarship, and I am applying for a module in Nice, France for my first term. My travel plans through Thunderbird's MBA program include France, China, Japan, South Africa, Costa Rica, and Dubai. I will have an internship in Japan next summer, and I hope to move on to a full-time telecommunications position in Japan after graduation.

Eunice Kwon, BA in International Studies and Japanese, 2010

My name is Eunice Kwon and I graduated in the Spring of 2010 with a double major in International Studies and Japanese. Ever since I learned the words "arigatou gozaimasu" when I was five years old, I had wanted to visit Japan. Unfortunately, opportunities did not present themselves in college, so upon hearing about the JET Program, I knew that the years following graduation would somehow be spent in Japan. Fortunately, things went according to plan, and in the summer of 2010 I was able to move to Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture.

When I first came to Japan, I was overwhelmed. There was Japanese everywhere. I could not help but feel disappointed with myself. As a Japanese major, I had expected to be able to understand everything. I could barely gather the courage to say a proper introduction in Japanese. But slowly, as my time here lengthened, I started remembering phrases that I had learned and cultural backgrounds that I had studied, even essays I had written. Needless to say, I found that my background knowledge of Japanese language and culture, which I gained from my Japanese professors at Emory, was solid. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take such a wide variety of Japanese and East Asian classes at Emory. I return to America in the summer of 2012, but the experiences and memories I have been able to make in Japan will be unforgettable.

Chris Collins, BA in Japanese, 2008


My name is Chris Collins, and I graduated with a BA in Japanese in May 2008.  I discovered Japanese during my sophomore year while trying to fulfill the general education language requirement, and ended up falling in love with the language and culture.  I decided to major in Japanese, and took language and culture classes for the next three years.  I also went to International Christian University in Mitaka, Tokyo for a summer study abroad program before my Senior year.  In addition to studying Japanese, I also minored in Architectural Studies and attended a summer program at Harvard designed for people who are interested in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning.  In my senior year, I decided to combine my interests and wrote a thesis about how the architecture of Toyo Ito expresses the Japanese idea of ma.

I applied to the JET program while still in school, and was accepted. After graduating from Emory I moved to Akita City, Japan and taught English at a junior high school for two years.  It was one of the best experiences of my life so far, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Japanese language and culture.  After moving back home, I lived with my parents for a year while I decided what to do next.  I was accepted into the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) MA program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California and just finished my first semester there in the fall of 2011.  I am in the process of switching to a new MA program that my school is launching in the fall of 2012 called International Education Management. This new degree will prepare me to work in study abroad and other international/cultural exchange programs. I am very excited about entering this field and giving students the opportunity to have similar life-changing international experiences like I did with JET.

Shunpei Okochi, BS in Biology, BS in Japanese, 2008

My name is Shunpei Okochi, class of '08. Since graduating from Emory I have entered medical school at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY, and have one more year until I finish my degree. Since entering medical school I have learned that there are very few Japanese medical professionals on the East Coast, and I hope to one day open a Japanese/English bilingual medical practice to better serve the Japanese community.

Siobhain Rivera, BA in Comparative Literature and Japanese, 2008

I majored in Comp Lit and Japanese and spent my senior year studying at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. I then followed Tim to Seoul, where I ended up teaching tiny Korean children to speak English, and editing his papers in my spare time.  I took several courses in Korean at Yonsei University, and can hold a conversation well enough to convince people who don't know better that I'm fluent.   After four years, I decided to return to the States and started my Masters in Library Science at Indiana University in the fall of 2013.  My areas of interest include children's fantasy literature, web development, East Asian languages, and digital archiving.

Tim Gitzen, BA in Japanese, 2007

My name is Tim Gitzen, and I graduated from Emory in 2007 with a BA in Japanese with a second major in Religion. While at Emory I spent a year in Japan through the study abroad program, and moved to South Korea following my graduation. I went on to earn an MA in Korean Studies from Yonsei Univesity in Seoul, South Korea, where I founded and served as the editor in chief of the graduate journal Papers, Essays and Reviews. My research interests include popular culture, narrative storytelling, kinship, affect, and queer studies. I have presented on issues of homosexualituy in South Korea, coming out in South Korea, and queer cinema and television in Korea. I am the co-founder and co-organizer of the Atlanta Forum of Anthropologhy, and am now working towards an MA in cultural anthropology at Georgia State University.

Update, June 2012: Tim has successfully defended his MA thesis and will begin a PhD program in Korean Language and Literature at the University of Minnesota in the fall. His essay, "Mothers and Affect: Encounters with Gay Sons in South Korea," will be published in the edited volume, East Asian MotheringPolitics and Practices (forthcoming, 2014).

Andy Utada, BS in Physics, Minor in Japanese, 1999

I majored in Physics at Emory University, and took Japanese courses every semester beginning my freshman year. I spent the second half of my junior year at Kansai Gaidai University. After graduating in 1999, I spent another six months at Kwansei Gakuin University to further increase my Japanese language skills. I returned to the U.S. in 2000 and finished a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at Harvard University in 2007. Following the completion of my degree, I returned to Japan for another 2.5 years as a reasearch fellow in the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) fellowship program at the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science. I am currently about to start a Post-Doctoral felowship at UCLA in Biophysics.