Voices from Scholars

2017 SA  Shoko HIROSE

Study Program: MA, Social-Organizational Psychology, Teachers’ College, Columbia University

I am thrilled to share the news that I was able to graduate from my Masters program in Social-Organizational Psychology at Columbia University in May 2019. The past 2 years have been truly challenging and rewarding, stretching me beyond my limits and strengthening me in ways that I could never have imagined before I set forth on this journey. Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity and education. I am so grateful for the support from the CWAJ Scholarship.

2016 SA  Naoko SASAMOTO

Study Program: MA, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

I was able to gain the skills and experiences that I would have never been able to if I had not come to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I was surprised so many women were studying at the graduate school as future leaders in the field and were also in high academic position at the school. I think we need more women leadership in Japan, and I think the CWAJ Scholarship program supports and encourages Japanese women pursuing higher degree education outside Japan, which is challenging but also a rewarding experience.
Thank you very much for all your support!

2015 NJG  Samata TAMRAKAR (Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) 

Study Program: PhD, Neurosurgery, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine

There is no other organization that is solely dedicated to women empowerment and CWAJ have been providing scholarships to many women who have all become pioneers in their respective fields. The kindness generated from all the members has made this one-year journey with CWAJ a memorable phase in my life. I shall forever be grateful to CWAJ for bestowing on me with kindness par excellence. For students like me, to achieve our dreams has been possible only with an organization like yours.

2012 NJG  Yvonne CHONDO  (Republic of Kenya)

Study Program: Masters in Hygienic Chemistry, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University

I would like to thank CWAJ for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to study for my Masters degree. Although I have a year to go, all the work that I put in in this past year is a big part of my journey to graduating and I couldn’t have done it without the help of CWAJ. Thank you so much and I look forward to attending some events organized by CWAJ, whenever I can. 
I also sincerely look forward to supporting and giving back to CWAJ and to women in general, when I am in a position to do so. Thank you and I sincerely wish you the very best in your future endeavors.

2012 SVI-SJ  Shingo MORII

Study Program: PhD, Biological Information Systems, University of Toyama Graduate School of Innovative Life Science 

Being selected as a CWAJ Scholar was a great encouragement for me as a visually impaired student. Sad to say but I feel that most people in the society look at people with impairments as someone who cannot to do anything or show their sympathies. For us who are living is such an atmosphere prevailing in the society, activity and awards of CWAJ were a true support and encouragement both emotionally and spiritually, and raised my motivation greatly.
Having financial base was essential for pursuit of my studies and activities.
In this respect, CWAJ Scholarship allowed me to devote myself to the research and to improve my skills without financial worries. I shall be most happy of you could continue this kind of activity and support for my junior visually impaired fellows so that they can continue to study and develop their possibilities. As a CWAJ scholar, I hope to contribute in some way to support my juniors.

2012 FRS  Saiko AKIYAMA

Study Program: Fukushima Medical University, School of Nursing

After the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, I was always questioning myself whether I should stay or put my child’s health first. But I was thankful to CWAJ Scholarship and to the people who supported the students of Fukushima. It was easy for me to quit, but I would have had many regrets if I did. Thanks to your scholarship, regardless of the fear of radiation, I was able to pursue my studies to become a nurse.

1970 Travel Grant  Takashi INOGUCHI 

Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo, Former President of University of Niigata Prefecture

Less than a year after I got a job as an assistant researcher at Sophia University, I was fortunate to receive the scholarship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but I had no money for the boat fare in 1970. At that time, CWAJ provided travel grant only for women. “Though I am a male, can I get your travel grant?” I was saved by CWAJ, which said it was all right. I was eternally grateful to CWAJ, since then I will keep donating to this organization. 

Member and 2013 Scholar Ryoko NARUI

1. Tell me about yourself
As I wondered what the doctor-patient relationship should be when working as a medical doctor, I decided to learn ‘Medical Humanities’ at King’s College London with a scholarship from CWAJ.
2. What is your relationship with CWAJ? Both your current position and any previous involvement (member, scholarship winner, volunteer with SIG group, to name a few)
Member and 2013 Scholarship winner
3. How did your goals change (if they did) once you received the scholarship?
Thanks to the scholarship, I could have a chance to discuss the topics I was interested in with classmates and tutors. Then, my hazy idea began to take shape.
4. What would you say to your younger self if you had the chance?
Go for what you believe in, even if it’s different from others.
5. What goal are you currently working towards? Why? (reading two books a month, drinking less coffee, to name a few)
Writing an article about ‘Narrative Medicine’ for psychology journal.

CWAJ 70th Anniversary Graduate Scholarship for Japanese Women to Study Abroad Shio SAKON

  1. Tell me about yourself
    I am a second-year physics graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, working with the LIGO group at Penn State under Professor Chad Hanna. LIGO is the gravitational wave detector that is capable of detecting ripples in spacetime, which are called gravitational waves. When massive compact objects such as neutron stars and black holes form binary systems and undergo inspirals and/or mergers, they emit energy as gravitational waves. The field of astrophysics using gravitational waves, along with electromagnetic waves and neutrinos, is called multi-messenger astrophysics, and my future goal is to contribute to this field and deepen our understanding of this universe.
    Apart from academics, I enjoy photography. This is my second fall in Pennsylvania, and it is a great joy to be able to bike to mountains nearby to take photos of foliage. Recently, I got myself a new camera lens. Because of the features of this new lens, it has given me a different mindset when I am trying to get good shots that make the most of the features of the lens and the object I try to capture in the photos.
  2. What is your relationship with CWAJ? Both your current position and any previous involvement (member, scholarship winner, volunteer with SIG group etc.)
    I am a CWAJ 70th Anniversary Graduate Scholarship for Japanese Women to Study Abroad.
  3. How did your goals change (if they did) once you received the scholarship?
    I am grateful for all the support that CWAJ has provided me with. Receiving the scholarship has enabled me to pursue my graduate studies in the US. Choosing to go to graduate school to get a Ph.D. degree in Physics and pursuing a career in academia while being a female encompasses many risks and challenges. CWAJ’s scholarship has been supporting me to pursue my dreams.
    Now that I am given the privilege and support from others such that I am able to study physics while being a person of color and a female, I am eager than ever to contribute to enhancing diversity and inclusivity in this field, STEM, and academia.
  4. What would you say to your younger self if you had the chance? I would like to tell my younger self the following:
    “What you think your future is going to be is confounded by what you know up to that point in your life. You will meet more people, you will go through more challenges, and you will reflect on your past only to realize things about yourself that you weren’t aware of back then. Cherish and nurture the connections you make with others, be ready to be changed, and live your life with all your might.”
  5. What goal are you currently working towards? Why? (reading 2 books a month, drinking less coffee etc.)
    In terms of academics, I am working on deepening my understanding of gravitational wave astrophysics, general relativity, mathematical physics, etc.
    Outside of academics, I have been working on learning Korean for the past month so that I can communicate in Korean. Once COVID-19 travel bans are loosened, I would like to visit South Korea. Another goal I am working towards is becoming better at photography since it has been giving me the joy of biking around to find nice scenery and share the beauty with others through photos.

2018 Graduate Scholarship for Japanese Women to Study Abroad Misaki TAKAHASHI

1. Tell me about yourself.
My name is Misaki Takahashi, originally from Gunma, Japan. I am currently a master student at the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. My ultimate goal is tackling climate change focusing on forest mitigation. I studied environmental issues multidisciplinary during my undergraduate program at Tottori University of Environmental Studies, and then came to the Netherlands to further improve my expertise in forest policy.
You may wonder why I chose forest as my expertise even though there are various ways to approach environmental issues such as waste management. I have two reasons for this: greenhouse gas reduction and biodiversity hotspot. Firstly, the land-use sector (incl. forestry and agriculture) is the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter following the energy sector. At the same time, people refer to forests as “lungs of the Earth” as they have a large potential to sequestrate carbon through photosynthesis. Secondly, they play an important role in biodiversity conservation. For instance, tropical forests contain more than 2/3 of the world’s biodiversity. Whenever I visit a forest, I feel that we are just a small part of the huge and complex ecosystem which human being cannot create.
These days, I am working on my second thesis about tree diversity value on carbon sequestration under the 2ndFOR project which is the international secondary forest research network. In addition to the research works, I have learned the basic knowledge and theory of nature conservation through courses in the past two years. Thus, I would like to practically engage in conservation projects in developing countries as my next step.

2. What is your relationship with CWAJ? Both your current position and any previous involvement (member, scholarship winner, volunteer with SIG group etc.)
I am a scholar of the Graduate Scholarship for Japanese Women to Study Abroad (SA Program) in 2018. Last year (in 2019), I met Mrs. Jantien Brinkhorst (the CWAJ Overseas Member) and her husband at Den Haag in the Netherlands, and they were so nice to me. Through the interaction with the other CWAJ members, I have deeply felt their mercy and passion to make the world a better place. In this way, I am grateful and proud of being one of the CWAJ scholars.

3. How did your goals change (if they did) once you received the scholarship?
Although the scholarship itself has not changed my ultimate goal: addressing environmental issues through forest mitigation, I felt more responsibility as a CWAJ scholar and as one of the Japanese female students who study abroad about environmental issues. After I received such an honored scholarship, I have come to willing to encourage the next generations to study abroad.
I decided to go to graduate school overseas at the end of my first year of the undergraduate program. While I am just a “normal” person who grew up in an ordinary family in a rural area in Japan, many Japanese students in graduate school overseas are returnees, graduates from international schools, or students who have experience in studying abroad during their undergraduates. In this sense, passing both scholarship and graduate school abroad was a lofty goal for me. At the award ceremony in 2018, the scholarship selection committee members told me that my sincere attitude and continuous efforts towards my goals were highly evaluated. If the scholarship committee examined applicants only based on their linguistic ability or fruitful international experiences, I could not have been here. These great thoughts and supports from CWAJ also made me realize the importance to encourage young people just like my old self who tend to regard the study abroad as a story of a different world. Therefore, I would like to pursue my career and at the same time, dedicate myself to enlighten the path to the next generation as CWAJ did me.

4. What would you say to your younger self if you had the chance?
“The world is much bigger than you think. Seize the day! Someday, you will meet people who teach you life is so colorful. “
I would like to tell myself in secondary school when I was feeling uncomfortable all the time for spending time with classmates who can simply work hard for grades and examinations. 

5. What goal are you currently working towards? Why? (reading 2 books a month, drinking less coffee etc)
I started studying Spanish since I came to the Netherlands. Heavily deforested areas are often located in Latin America, where Spanish are mostly spoken. Spanish is, therefore, one of the most important languages when it comes to forest conservation. Moreover, I have met lots of students who speak more than three languages, which has been motivating me to learn a new language besides English.

Click here to read an interview with Ririna Kaneko, a past VVI scholar.

Click here to read an interview with Kit Brooks, a past ICU scholar.

Click here to read an interview with Mariko Kageyama, a past Study Abroad Scholar.

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