Senior Profiles

2023-2024 Graduates

Eve Runquist
BA, College of Letters & Science, December 2023

Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies Major, Japanese Major, Certificate in Environmental Studies

Interest: I’d been teaching myself Japanese for years when I decided to study abroad in Japan in high school with the AFS program. It was at that time that I really fell in love with the country and decided I wanted to continue my studies in university. I picked Madison because I got to visit a class and loved the way the professors taught Japanese and pushed their students.

Classes: The first classes I remember were 3rd semester Japanese in 2020, and Tyrell Haberkorn’s Revolutionary Asia class. For me one of the most impactful courses was Steven Ridgely’s Japanese translation course, because it matched my passion for language and involved some really interesting analysis of how we communicate and translate cross-languages/cultures.

Recommendations: Absolutely go for it. I think it’s most interesting the less you already know on the topic. Especially if you learn a language to go along with it, it will really expand your horizons.

Activities: I was a member of Nihongo House my freshman year in 2020. Even though there weren’t many of us, it was a great time and I’m really glad that’s where I chose to go. I’ve also done volunteering for Madison West in Japanese, and one-on-one tutoring as well. Doing this combined with classes really helped my language teaching skills.

Memories: Learning languages is always fun, particularly because it gives you the opportunity to communicate with people in ways you never could have imagined before.

Future: Since before I entered university, I have wanted to become a translator, and I will continue that dream! I’m already well on that path today! I plan on moving out of the US and exploring other linguistic opportunities around the world.

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Sydney Bobolz
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies Major, Chinese Major
ALC Peer Mentor

Interest: I wanted to broaden my scope of language and culture education beyond just a Chinese B.A.

Classes: My first class was the basic level Chinese class and it was over zoom due to COVID. Even online, everyone could feel the professor and TA’s passion for education and genuine care for their students.

Recommendations: The ALC department is a great way to broaden your view of the world. Not only does it look great on a resume to have cross cultural competencies, but perusing a major or certificate in ALC can give you a base line knowledge of a large chunk of the world.

Activities: I was involved as an ALC peer mentor. I enjoyed sharing my experiences in the department and bonding with other students through shared experiences and interests.

Memories: Every single one of my Chinese language professors had such passion for sharing their language. The best part of this community is knowing you have an amazing support team who will work with you through any difficulty.

Future: My current post-grad plan is to commission into the U.S. Army. I want to use my chinese language and culture knowledge in my job field and eventually earn the position of foreign area officer.

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Stephen Zheng
BS, College of Agriculture & Life Science, May 2024

Food Science Major, and Chinese Professional Communication Certificate

Interest: I was interested because I wanted to improve my Chinese language ability in an academic format.

Classes: My first class was Second Semester Chinese. I think what was most impactful in that class was learning different grammar patterns, which I didn’t think about while learning Chinese from my parents when I was a kid.

Recommendations: Feel free to have fun with your projects, class, and your peers.

Activities: The Food Science Club and Babcock House student organizations were the two main clubs I was apart of. These two organizations helped supplement and support my future career paths.

Memories: The mid-autumn festival was the most memorable experience for me.

Future: I plan to work in Sales within the Food Industry. I hope I can work internationally so I can further improve my Chinese.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Kira McComb
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Chinese Major, Linguistics Major, Psychology Major
ALC Peer Mentor

Interest: I have been studying Chinese my whole life and knew I wanted to continue it at an undergraduate level. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the ALC program and during this program, I have not only increased my Chinese fluency but learned so much about the wider Chinese culture.

Classes: The first class I had in the department was ASIALANG 202 (Fourth Semester Chinese). The most impactful class I have taken in the department was ASIALANG 379 (Business Chinese) as I have the fondest memories of my classmates from that course and I think it was one of the most helpful classes I have taken for my Chinese language ability.

Recommendations: I would say to take any class that sounds interesting to you as you’ll never know what you’ll discover! There have been many classes I’ve taken that I, at first, believed did not match my interests but found the class (or a part of it) extremely fascinating and took more classes surrounding that interest.

Activities: I was/am a part of a second-language acquisition linguistics lab, which has not only helped my research experience but also helped my understanding of what acquiring a second language can look like. I also was/am a peer mentor for the ALC department, which I hope has helped the department and the students within it.

Memories: One memory I will take from being a part of the ALC/Chinese community is the classmates I have met through the department. They have made my learning experience within classes and the department extremely enjoyable.

Future: My plans for the future (currently) consist of attending graduate school and continuing my academic journey. After that, I hope to join the workforce in a way that allows me to use my Chinese and linguistic knowledge.

Connect: LinkedIn

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May Li
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Chinese Major, Economics Major

Interest: My parents are from China and I want to learn more about the language and culture.

Classes: ASIALANG 453, was my first class and it was during the start of the pandemic. The course was fully online.

Recommendations: Take the classes and don’t be scared to learn a new language.

Activities: Internships, study abroad, traveling.

Memories: Learning a new language is useful in many ways, especially for future careers.

Future: Graduate from Grad school at UW-Madison. Have a dream job where I can work and incorporate the Chinese Language to help others.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Samantha Hua
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

International Studies – Global Security Major, Chinese Professional Communication Certificate, Gender & Women’s Studies Certificate

Interest: I have been learning Chinese since high school and wanted to explore and learn more of my heritage in college!

Classes: The first class I remember taking was Elementary Chinese, but my most impactful class was Business Chinese.

Recommendations: I would tell students to explore electives because I think electives are a fun and interesting way to learn about a topic before they commit to the major or certificate.

Activities: I was an active member of VSA since my freshmen year. I was involved with VHP to specifically volunteer and fundraise for the organizations. Both organizations helped me make friends and connected me to mentors that demonstrated collaboration and leadership that helped me become an active participant in the classroom.

Memories: I will remember the teachers and friends I made because the ALC is a small community that I am able to connect with a tight knit community and see them often even if I’m taking different courses.

Future: My hope for the future to be able to find a job that has an inclusive and fun community that will be able take me to various countries so that I can learn of the social issues there to broaden my world knowledge.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Erika Kay-Tsumagari
BS, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Biochemistry Major, Japanese Professional Communication Certificate
ALC Peer Mentor

Interest: I wanted to improve my Japanese from past self study and saw there were many interesting classes offered through the ALC department.

Classes: My first class was 3rd Semester Japanese and I was so impressed by how friendly and easy to talk to all the TAs were.

Recommendations: Make the most out of your experience in classes, all the ALC professors are great!

Activities: Japanese Student Association, Alpha Chi Sigma, Slow Food UW, WISCIENCE, GUTS Tutoring, and Triathlon Club

Memories: Taking Japanese Conversation with many friends and practicing speaking Japanese with them 🙂

Future: I am moving to NYC for the next 5+ years to get a PhD in Pharmacology from Weill Cornell. After that, I hope to work as a scientist at a biotech company hopefully in SF!

Connect: LinkedIn

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Nautilus Gallardo-Mambaje
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Asian Languages & Cultures Major, Gender & Women’s Studies Major, Asian American Studies Certificate

Interest: I did a FIG that was related to the ALC major, I really enjoyed the professors that I had. Some of my professors in Freshman year became my mentors.

Classes: Since I took the FIG, I took Asian 100, Asian 300, and 3rd semester Chinese during my freshman semester. The most impactful class was the Proseminar taught by Tyrell Haberkorn about Communism, Anarchism, and Others in Southeast Asia.

Recommendations: To take classes that are fun and to connect to different orgs on campus to practice.

Activities: FAFSO, PISA, APIDA HM, AASP, working at the International Learning Community, volunteering at the Asian Community Resource Center and at the Asian Community Development Center.

Memories: My favorite memory that I will be holding onto: My semester of research with Tyrell Haberkorn about liberation movements and how American activism relates to both past and present changes in Asia.

Future: I hope to pursue a PhD in Ethnic studies and to eventually become a professor.

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Aiko Wolf
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Chinese Major, History Major

Interest: Mandarin Chinese was offered in elementary through high school, but I was never taught past a very elementary level of speaking. This was enough to spark my interest to see the language through.

Classes: My first Chinese language class over zoom during the Fall of 2020. Even during the pandemic they ALC faculty and staff did a great job!

Recommendations: Having a major or certificate in the ALC department is extremely practical and fulfilling. It will supplement any career field well.

Activities: Chinese Tables & Foundation International

Memories: All the out of class group work with my peers! Having that connection of speaking in a language other than English has been so sweet.

Future: I am going to continue my education at the University of Wisconsin- Madison in the Curriculum and Instruction: Secondary Education Master’s Program.

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Mara Rodewald
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

International Studies Major, Communication Arts Major, and Certificates in Japanese Professional Communication, Gender & Women’s Studies, German

Interest: I was interested in Japanese pop culture since I was little and so I wanted to study the language.

Classes: First class was Japanese 103 and the most impactful was all of them!

Recommendations: All the faculty, staff and TAs are so kind!

Activities: I was a co-instructor at the Chadbourne Residential College.

Memories: Being able to connect with people through learning Japanese language.

Future: To continue learning about culture, identity and belonging!

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Christy Li
BS, College of Engineering May 2024

Biomedical Engineering Major, Chinese Professional Communication Certificate

Interest: Growing up I was forced to learn Chinese, which as a kid meant I automatically hated it. But as I got older, the regret of not learning the language began to sink in. Each visit home reminded me of the disconnect between my grandparents and I. So coming into college I always knew I would be taking Chinese courses to improve my communication skills.

Classes: My very first class was Chinese for Heritage Speakers and through that class I was able to interact with students that grew up with the same background as me. It was really interesting to hear about other students backgrounds and why they ultimately decided to take Chinese.

Recommendations: Have fun, don’t stress about it. Duolingo is really great for learning and retaining vocabulary!

Activities: Attending club events such as Chinese New Year with different organizations was really fun as I got to make so many new friends.

Memories: All the friendships I’ve gained!

Future: Hopefully being a doctor and having the communication skills available, especially in medical settings, to help the public.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Nanami Oshimura
BS, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Japanese Major, Molecular & Cell Biology Major

Interest: I wanted to take Japanese classes to connect better with my Japanese heritage and improve my linguistic skills.

Classes: The first course I took in the ALC department was Asialang 104, second semester Japanese. The most impactful courses has been Japanese Conversation and fifth semester Japanese.

Recommendations: I was also hesitant whether to take courses, but I found the courses in the ALC department to be some of the most interesting courses I’ve taken. Additionally, the advisors are all really helpful in figuring out schedules and graduation requirements. One of the highlights of my college memories was my study abroad experience, which wouldn’t have been possible without the courses in the ALC department,

Activities: I have been an undergraduate research assistant since freshman year. In senior year, I have been a board member of the Japanese Student Association and a Badger volunteer tutoring Japanese at Plymouth High School.

Memories: The professors and TAs in the Japanese department have been some of the kindest and most encouraging professors I’ve met as a student. They genuinely hope for their students to succeed and enjoy connecting with their students.

Future: I hope to succeed and enjoy the career path I end up following as well as have the chance to experience different cultures. At the moment I’m not entirely sure of what my career path will be but I would like to gain work experience and skills that will assist me in applying to graduate school in the future.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Sophie Frankel
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Economics Major, Philosophy Major, Chinese Professional Communication Certificate

Interest: I’ve taken Mandarin classes since middle school, and I’ve loved being able to continue my study of Chinese at UW-Madison through different angles like business.

Classes: Since my freshman year was during the pandemic, my first impression was online in a Zoom class. In ASIALANG 201, my TAs were so supportive and helpful throughout the semester.

Recommendations: Since my freshman year was during the pandemic, my first impression was online in a Zoom class. In ASIALANG 201, my TAs were so supportive and helpful throughout the semester.

Activities: As an economics major, I worked as an Econ 101 tutor my senior year. I enjoyed the opportunity to help my peers and look at basic economics concepts through a new lens.

Memories: Eating mooncakes with my classmates during the Chinese New Year!

Future: I plan to work in finance post graduation. In the future, I hope to integrate my study of Chinese language into my profession.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Emilia Deino
BS, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Atmospheric & Oceanic Studies Major, Japanese Professional Communication Certificate, Environmental Studies Certificate

Interest: My dad took me on his business trip to Tokyo when I was a sophomore in high school. When I got back to the US, I started taking Japanese lessons. When I came to UW, I knew I wanted to continue learning Japanese so I enrolled in the Professional Business Japanese Certificate program.

Classes: My first class was online, it was second semester Japanese. Even though our class was held over zoom, the professor was very interactive and actively called on us during class.

Recommendations: I would totally recommend it. Learning an Asian language is such a fun and eye-opening experience because it is so different from English.

Activities: I was the Vice President of the Audubon Society UW-Madison Chapter (basically the birdwatching club). I also often went to JSA events such as the fall and spring festivals.

Memories: I will always remember the Japanese Learning Community I was a part of in Adams Hall and the fun events we did every week. Even during covid, we would have meetings over zoom and keep each other company. That was my first introduction to the great community on campus.

Future: I hope to use my background in atmospheric science to work in wildlife conservation and climate change mitigation. I know that my Japanese language experience from UW will help me achieve my dreams.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Caleb Cronbaugh
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies Major, Certificates in History and Asian American Studies

Interest: I originally was studying Japanese in college and then shifted to broader Asian Languages and Cultures in order to build upon the language. I also wanted to broaden my knowledge of issues impacting all of South-East and East Asia.

Classes: Asian 236- Asia Enchanted, Professor D’Etcheverry was amazing and really showcased the opportunities to expand my knowledge and learn about things that impact the culture and folklore of Japan.

Recommendations: Ensure that you take different classes under different professors and explore other departments in which the classes and credits still count towards your major.

Activities: NROTC, worked at Vintage

Memories: Studying for Kanji tests in the 12th floor book room.

Future: I hope to eventually move back to Japan and visit countries that I have not been before.

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Nick Jacobs
BS, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Computer Science Major, Mathematics Major, Japanese Professional Communication Certificate
ALC Peer Language Tutor for Japanese

Interest: I wanted to learn a foreign language, I had interest in Japanese history and it seemed like a fun, challenging language.

Classes: My first class was first semester Japanese, I remember all of the TAs and professors being very nice and energetic, it made me want to study the language more.

Recommendations: Its a great opportunity to meet other people with similar interests and be in the same class with them semester after semester.

Activities: My most impactful activity was my internship in Yokohama summer 2023. I was able to live in Japan for over a month and get an amazing experience that has changed the course of my career.

Memories: Steve Ridgely’s classes on Evangelion and Anime were some of the most fun and interesting classes I’ve ever taken at UW Madison. We were able to look at a variety of topics and analyze them in insightful ways that helped influence the way I look at media.

Future: My current future plans are moving to Japan as a part of the JET program, where I’ll hopefully be able to find a company in Japan that I want to work for. I’m interested in working in a tech company, or even translation work if I can get the right connections.

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Elaine Pajanustan
BS, School of Education, May 2024

Health Promotion & Health Equity Major, Certificates in Japanese Professional Communication, Asian American Studies, Global Health, Health Policy

Interest: In high school, I hosted 2 Japanese exchange students which inspired me to take Japanese classes at my high school. I quickly fell in love with the language and knew I wanted to pursue it in college.

Classes: The first class I took was AsiaLang 114 in 2020 with Okamoto sensei. As a freshman cooped up in my dorm during the pandemic, I always looked forward to talking to my classmates and Okamoto sensei in this class. Anthro 357: Introduction to the Anthropology of Japan that left the most lasting impression on me. Delving into the cultural practices of the Ainu people and exploring various social, cultural, and historical aspects of Japan not typically covered in language classes was really cool! Professor Ohnuki-Tierney, who led this course, brought a wealth of knowledge and captivating stories to the classroom, making the subject incredibly engaging. In the summer of 2023, I had the chance to study abroad in Hokkaido, where I could apply the insights gained from Anthro 357 to my classes and activities. This experience allowed me to deepen my understanding of the Ainu and Japanese food systems in a real-world context.

Recommendations: I would definitely encourage anyone who is interested in ALC to reach out to any of the professors and/or the advisor, everyone is incredibly helpful and kind! I came into college undecided and found my major by taking classes that interested me and looking through the undergrad majors & certificates page.

Activities: On campus, I was an Event Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator for the Japanese Student Association. I also was an active member of the Filipinx American Student Association and was the Chairperson for the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month Planning Committee. I also had a few internships/jobs with a Japanese based nutraceutical company, WI Department of Public Instruction, UW Extension, WI Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, and an Indigineous community health center in Milwaukee.

Memories: I’d say my favorite memories would be hanging out with my friends from JSA.

Future: I hope to work in community based public health programs and research, specifically for Asian Americans.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Ariana Zins
BA, College of Letters & Science, May 2024

Chinese Major, Asian Languages & Cultures Major, International Studies Major

Interest: I was adopted from China and always have been interested in studying the language & culture that I come from. I have a great fascination for Asia and all the ins-and-outs of it! The people, the food, the language, the culture…I love it all.

Classes: Asialang 201–the first language class I took in the department. I was a scared little Freshman and the rigor of the class was daunting but also extremely motivating. I knew that I had picked the right university to improve and sharpen my language skills!

Recommendations: Don’t be afraid to try new things, learn a topic that you are interested in. Yes, finishing your degree is important but studying things that you may be interested in is even more important. College is a time to fearlessly explore and take advantage of all the opportunities available. Being an involved and knowledgeable citizen of the world means trying and learning new topics–even if they may seem “different” or “weird” to you at first.

Activities: Air Force ROTC, ALC Peer Mentors, ALC Department Communications Intern, Arnold Air Society, Scabbard & Blade, CLACC, Barista at Prairie Fire, Volleyball/Soccer/Football Intramural, Leader at Badger Cru

Memories: Every single language class I had will be memorable. While rigorous and long, the experience and time spent in the language & with the people that appreciated the language like I did was so rewarding and fun! I applaud every single person that pursues a language because it is not easy!!!

Future: Become a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF and work as a Logistics Officer in Japan.

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December 2023 Graduates

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Liz Brown

Interest: As a kid, I was exposed to Japanese culture from hearing about my father’s experiences working and living there, and became very curious about the Japanese alphabet and language. I enjoyed language learning in high school, finding it incredibly interesting and rewarding, so I decided to pursue a Japanese certificate in college.

First Class: First semester Japanese was my very first language class! I remember how encouraged I was by the instructors’ support, and how engaging the class was. My favorite class in the department was probably 5th semester Japanese (303). The topics were engaging, and by that point I knew most of the students and was equipped to have meaningful discussions during class.

Inspiration: The department is fantastic, the faculty are incredible teachers and very supportive. It may seem daunting to pursue a language, but like anything else, consistent work leads to results! Pursuing a Japanese certificate was incredibly rewarding. Don’t be intimidated by other people, everyone learns and picks things up at their own pace!

Engagement: I was lucky enough to attend JASC (Japan-America Student Conference) in the summer of 2022. It is a yearly 3-week student conference that meets either in Japan and America, alternating every year. I was a delegate in an America year, and was able to meet a bunch of Japanese students, practice my language skills, and learn more about the cultural differences and similarities between the US and Japan. I met some incredible people who I plan to visit in Japan after I graduate.

Memories: I fondly remember the collective terror students shared before speaking exams, sitting outside in the hallway as we were pulled in one by one. It was a bonding experience. On a more positive note, I fondly remember the last classes of each semester, when the teachers usually brought in Japanese snacks.

Future: I plan to find a job after graduation in my field. In the future, I want to pursue Earthquake Mechanics/Fault Mechanics in graduate school, hopefully in collaboration with Japanese universities or with field work in Japan. My future dreams are to work as a earth scientist/engineer in as many places in the world that I can.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Will Cerne

Interest: I dabbled a bit in Japanese before high school, but fell in love with the language during my studies at Madison.

Classes: I still remember taking 1st semester Japanese. The most impactful class for me was either 1st semester or AV Media.

Inspiration: Language learning is an incredibly beautiful and rewarding experience that gives the more you put into it.

Memories: The Kakehashi Project 🙂

Future: I want to get my PhD in Physics from Tokyo University.

May 2023 Graduates

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Calvin Eckl

Interest: When I first entered college I was declared as a Biochemistry major thinking I was on the path to becoming a scientist. However, I quickly realized after taking a few semesters of STEM courses that the road to becoming a scientist wasn’t as fulfilling as I initially thought it out to be, as learning about something I didn’t care about quickly ate away at any motivation I had. It was around my second year of college that I was taking Japanese as an elective, and it was there that I fell in love with the language and eventually decided on it as my major.

First class: Semester One Japanese! What stood out to me most were the professors and TA’s and how encouraging and understanding they were. Learning a new language is hard, and that sort of support goes a long way when you’re just starting out.

Inspiration: Find what you love doing and don’t let anyone stop you from doing it! I can’t count the amount of times people told me I was going to die starving under a bridge for majoring in Japanese, but I never let it stop me. Study and master your craft, capitalize on every opportunity no matter how small or irrelevant they may seem, and don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Activities: I’ve tutored Japanese to high schoolers at Madison West Highschool, as well as been an English Language Partner through GUTS. I’m also active in the Super Smash Bros. Club and have participated in many of the local tournaments held in the Madison area.

Memory: I will fondly remember dreading speaking exams with my peers as we each got called into the classroom one by one. That as well as the amazing people that make up the Japanese Department, many of who have taught me, influenced me, and helped me get to where I am today.

Future: I’ll be going to Japan to teach English as an Assistant Language Teacher through the JET Program this summer. While I’m there, I hope to solidify my Japanese language skills as well as build connections that will allow me to continue working in Japan!

Shout out: So many people in the ALC Japanese Department have guided me and supported me in my language learning journey, all of which have amounted to incredible experiences and opportunities that I don’t think I would’ve been able to achieve alone. I was able to participate in the Critical Language Scholarship Program where I experienced parts of Japanese culture like the Tea Ceremony. I was able to go to Chicago to participate in a Japanese Speech Contest where I with two other UW-Students proudly represented UW-Madison and it’s Japanese Department. I was also able to get into the JET program and also receive job offers that will persist until I come back from JET. Special thanks to Shimizu先生, Nakakubo先生, Hara先生, and Charo先生!

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Angela Glowacki

Interest: I started watching a lot of Chinese dramas during quarantine and decided to enroll in First Semester Chinese in the following semester. I found that I really enjoyed learning the language, and I started taking other Chinese studies courses too. Soon after, I declared Chinese as my second major!

First class: My first class was First Semester Chinese with Zhang Laoshi. Despite it being virtual, it really felt to me that there was a solid camaraderie among everyone in the class. Then, in Second Semester Chinese, it was nice to see familiar faces in that section. I think that’s a cool thing about language classes, since we all struggle together and see one another improve over semesters.

Inspiration: Even if you aren’t sure you want to commit to a major or certificate, just enroll in one language course or culture course. It’s not a contract, you’ll still get a lot out of it, and you may even make some new friends (I’ve found that stressing over vocab quizzes and oral exams really brings people together).

Activities: I started working as a Writing Fellow last semester. I wish I had applied earlier, because it has been a great experience. I’ve gotten to improve my own writing and revising skills, while also developing tutoring skills.

Memory: In one of my Chinese language classes, a bunch of us got together at the end of the semester to go eat hot pot. It was so fun to hang out with everyone! I’ve never done that with any of my other classes, so it felt really special.

Future: I have been very fortunate to be offered a Ministry of Education 2023 Taiwan Scholarhip to pursue a master’s degree in Taiwan. I will be attending National Chengchi University in Taipei to pursue a degree in Asia-Pacific Studies. I am so excited for this opportunity and look forward to continuing my studies in East Asian culture!

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Bingxian Lin

Interest: I am from China in Asia, and although I came to the United States to study, I still feel tied and connected there. I initially wanted to study some Japanese language and culture in college out of interest, but I realized that understanding Asian culture, language, and society from an American or Western perspective was something I had never experienced before, and I was deeply fascinated by it. After that, I knew that ALC was the place for me.

First class: My first class was ASIALANG 113 with Ito-sensei, the most basic 2-credit Japanese class, not even the usual 103 that most people take. Although I don’t remember the exact content of the class, I can say that it was the true beginning of my Japanese and East Asian studies. Learning a new language opened a new window that allowed me to see a broader perspective.

Inspiration: First, take the classes you want to take and learn the things you want to learn. Interest is always the best teacher. The second thing is to try something outside of your interests. I don’t mean to force you to take a class, but to encourage you to explore new areas that are unfamiliar to you, because you will often find new interests and motivations, or at least broaden your insights. Finally, LANGUAGE! Believe me, learning a new language is the best place to start because it allows you to communicate directly with people from different cultures and backgrounds and get feedback from them. Language is the most direct tool for breaking down cultural and communication barriers, and you will benefit from this skill for the rest of your life.

Activities: Since I’m not much of an activities person, I can only tell you about some of the resources and opportunities you can use to further your learning and language skills: All professors’ office hours are excellent ways to improve your understanding of knowledge and broaden your perspective of the world, so don’t be shy to go; Conversational Table is definitely the best place to practice speaking and cross-cultural communication, and I’ve been attending it basically every week for the past two years; GUTS also has a lot of resources that offer language communication skills, whether you’re an international student who wants to practice speaking English or just want to practice any foreign language you’re learning. Pay more attention to the emails sent to you by the department, there will be a lot of interesting activities, lectures, internships and opportunities that can be a turning point in your life. Finally, I highly recommend the study abroad programs offered by the university (including all East Asian countries as far as I know), although I didn’t make it because of Covid, which is sad, it will really be a very valuable experience for you.

Memory: First, I met many teachers at ALC who profoundly influenced my life, including many Japanese teachers and TAs, as well as professors of East Asian culture, history, literature, and other subjects. I learned so much from their classes and office hours. Their knowledge and teaching provided me with indispensable support for my future studies and career. They taught me that studying is a never ending and never bad thing. I also appreciate all the peers I have met in class or at events at ALC, everyone I have talked to at the Conversation Table, everyone I have worked with in group work. ALC is the most unforgettable community I have ever been a part of and will always be connected to. I will definitely miss being here when I leave.

Future: After graduation, I will continue my studies of East Asian culture and society at a graduate school in Japan. I will take what I have seen and learned in Madison and at ALC and use it to my advantage in the new place. I will continue to keep an open mind, learn new languages and cultures, meet new people, and gain new perspectives as I have here. I hope that in the future I can make my own contribution to breaking down the barriers between people, collectives and societies. I wish us all a bright future.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Emma Kempf

Interest: The year before college, I studied abroad in Beijing and began learning Mandarin Chinese. When I came to UW, I found an amazing community in the ALC department and knew I wanted to major in Chinese!

First class: My first class was Chinese 201. What was most impactful were my teachers’ and my classmates’ efforts to teach and learn Chinese. Everyone created an inviting and encouraging atmosphere to learn and grow.

Inspiration: Get involved in ALC activities, language tables, and take the classes that most interest you!

Activities: I attended Chinese table, Chinese Language and Culture Club (CLACC) events, and found international internships with the International Internship Program (IIP).

Memory: I will always remember getting dumplings with friends after Chinese language table freshman year. It was how I made friends in the department and improved my language skills!

Future: I plan to move to Taiwan or Mainland China this fall/winter to teach English and improve my Chinese language skills.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Emily Masterson

Interest: I grew up learning Japanese from my mom and by attending Saturday Japanese school. I wanted to continue this in college.

First class: My first class was 5th semester Japanese. The most impactful class was Business Japanese where I learned how different cultural factors influence grammar, honorifics, and more in the business world.

Inspiration: In addition to taking the many interesting classes though the ALC department, be sure to explore different student organizations on campus that share similar interests as yours. Who knows, they may end up being in some of your ALC classes too!

Activities: I’ve been a part of the Japanese Student Association throughout my time at UW-Madison, serving as one of the presidents this year! Additionally, I love staying active and immersing myself in the outdoors which led to me to the Nordic Ski Team where I competed with other collegiate skiers, and the Hoofers Outing Club and was able to travel across the country backpacking, kayaking, etc. I’ve worked in the Hai Lab in the Biomedical Engineering Department for over 3 years where I’ve created minimally invasive devices to study neural function.

Memory: All the friendships I’ve made through the Japanese Student Association!

Future: I plan to be a research and development engineer for medical devices and I’m excited broaden my knowledge in this field. I hope to continue learning Japanese throughout my life to make professional connections as well.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Alexis Kwak

Interest: My Dad told me if I was going to learn a language to learn Chinese! The rest is history.

First class: ASIALANG 101 – how kind and understanding the ALC department professors are.

Inspiration: Jump in! It’s interesting to learn and the department is super supportive of its students.

Activities: The Association of Women in Agriculture, Pi Sigma Alpha, Sigma Alpha, Badger Dairy Club, CFB, and the Political Science Student Association

Memory: How much fun the community made learning the language!

Future: I will be entering the workforce in transportation logistics!

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Yi Lu "Ace" Lo

Interest: As an incoming freshman at UW-Madison, I heard that the university was well-equipped with study abroad programs and foreign language courses for student. I decided to enroll in a mandarin class because I was interested in the culture and language. As a Hmong student, I knew we originated from China so I was very curious about our ancestral roots and history.

Classes: My first class was ASIALANG 111 that taught the latter half of first semester Chinese. The most impactful moment in this class was learning how to write Chinese characters and deciphering the meaning and pronunciation of each character through their individual components.

Inspiration: Come and explore unique opportunities with a growth mindset instead of memorizing what you’ve learned. Apply it to your personal life and take advantage of all the resources that are given to you.

Activities: Ever since I was a freshman, I have been an active member of the Chinese American Student Association and I had demonstrated leadership by serving as one of the finance chairs on the executive board during my Sophomore year. During my senior year, I took the chance to study abroad at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan and this international experience was transformative because it reinvigorated me to pursue my purpose and goals.

Memories: My best memory was engaging with students within the Chinese community through culture and language exchange.

Future: My plan for post-graduation is to seek my dream career in the music and entertainment industry that represents my Asian identity and values. One of my endeavors is to empower people to become a trailblazer in their own scope by challenging the status quo and uplift my own Asian communities by dismantling stereotypes and microaggressions. I still plan to continue my language study in mandarin and apply it to my prospective career whenever feasible and return to Asia to explore more about my background and other cultures.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Emily Olsem

Interest: I was able to take two Japanese language courses my senior year of high school at another university which was a really amazing experience. I was really inspired by my Japanese professor to continue studying and the connections I made through those classes really made me want to major in Japanese, so I knew UW-Madison was where I wanted to go.

Classes: My first class was ASIAN 255, which is Intro to East Asian Civilizations, with Professor Detwyler. I really love history, so I’m glad I got to experience this class in my first semester here at UW. His class was so interesting I decided to take his other class in the spring called Survey of Chinese Literature and ended up loving that class too. It is so hard to choose the class that was most impactful, but it was either Professor Mori’s Introduction to Japanese Linguistics or Professor Ridgely’s Japanese Literature course!

Inspiration: Explore a variety of classes in the ALC department! Of course take the courses that interest you, but you may be surprised by how much you enjoy learning about something that you never thought about before. The ALC department offers many great classes and has many teachers that are so hardworking and interested in your education. Even if you are slighted interested in a course, enroll in it!

Activities: My freshman year, I was able to live in the International Learning Community and was a part of Nihongo Hausu, the Japanese language house, in Adams Residence Hall and met so many amazing people that I am still friends with today. I have also taken part in JSA events and was a tutor with GUTS’s Conversational English program. Also, I was a part of the Kakehashi Project with a group of students this last fall and got to travel to Japan.

Memories: I think my favorite memories from my time at UW-Madison will be the weekly dinners, game nights, and other get togethers with the members of the ILC and Nihongo Hausu. It was such a welcoming and amazing experience to be a part of this group, especially in my freshman year, which really pushed me to be confident in finding friends in my classes with other ALC students!

Future: I was recently accepted into the JET Program, so I will be heading to Japan in a few months to teach English as an Assistant Language Teacher. After my time with the JET Program, I hope to come back to Wisconsin and earn my Master’s Degree in ESL, or possibly find a job that deals with Japanese translation or something similar. I am so excited to see where my life takes me!

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Brian Putra

Interests: I liked Japanese music, so I took several Japanese classes and found modern Japanese literature to be really fun.

First Class: The first class I took was 3rd Semester Japanese. I think the most impactful class was Modern Japanese Literature with Prof. Steve Ridgely.

Recommendation: I didn’t really think too much before deciding to major in Japanese and just went for it. If you enjoy the classes, just go for it!

Activities: I helped organize Kaiwa no Kai (the Japanese conversation table) for a year. That gave me lots of extra practice speaking Japanese, and was really helpful for my language classes.

Future: I will be going to grad school for nuclear fusion after graduation. I hope to be able to become a scientist in the future.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Eleanor (Ellie) Scheirey

Interest: I’ve been taking Chinese (Mandarin) since middle school and then continued all throughout high school. I had the opportunity to go to China for 2 weeks back in high school and I absolutely loved it. I knew going into college that I wanted to keep studying Chinese.

Classes: I remember not doing well on the placement test because I wasn’t taught how to write many characters in high school, so I was put in the beginner class at UW-Madison. It was extremely easy because I had already learned the vocab and basic sentences patterns but it made me grateful for everything that I had learned. The most impactful thing was the welcoming, positive, and supportive environment in the classroom, including the teachers and other students.

Inspiration: It’s hard work but totally worth it! The teachers are there to challenge you but they are really there to support you. I would also advise going to the weekly language tables because it really helps being able to apply the language we learn in the classroom to outside conversations.

Activities: ALC Peer Mentor, GUTs conversational English tutor, GUTs world language learner for Chinese tutee. Tutored a 6th grader in Chinese virtually.

Memory: A memory that I will always have is attending the language tables on Fridays and being amazed at how fluent everyone sounds talking together.

Future: I want to go to China and teach English there for a few years. I would love to continue to volunteer my time tutoring others in English or Chinese. I hope to use Chinese where ever I end up.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Iris Bloede

Interest: I grew up learning Japanese and I wanted to continue my studies in college!

First Class: My first class was 5th semester Japanese. The most impactful was Advanced Japanese through Audio-Visual Media. So much fun!

Recommendation: There are so many niche and interesting classes, so explore all of them and don’t hesitate to enroll! Getting involved in related student orgs is also a great way to meet people who have similar interests in ALC studies and topics 🙂

Activities: I’ve been in the Japanese Student Association since freshman year and I’ve served as a board member for the last two years. I would highly recommended attending JSA events, not just for the yummy food and fun activities, but also for the welcoming atmosphere and great people 🙂 In terms of jobs, I’ve worked in a few research labs on campus, one of which I will be staying on with post-graduation, and I was also a summer fellow for the Department of Natural Resources through the SWSDIP program.

Memories: The close friendships I’ve made through JSA 🙂

Future: I intend to continue my work in natural resources and I hope to attend grad school at some point! I am excited for all of the different directions I could go after I graduate!

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

Cole Gransee

Interest: I was initially interested in learning Japanese because I wanted to study abroad in Japan and I had an interest in the Japanese video game industry.

First Class: The first class I remember was first semester Japanese and the most impactful was second semester Japanese. The class was so interesting and enjoyable to be in that it convinced me to follow the entire language path and pursue a certificate.

Recommendation: Make friends in your classes as they will likely be your classmates and partners in the following classes. Learning a new language is hard so don’t put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy the journey.

Activities: I took part in the virtual Kakehashi event which was a very fun experience. It was amazing being able to speak with Japanese college students.

Memory: Eating Japanese candy that the professors would bring with my friends in class. All the interesting conversations I was able to have with different students while learning the language. Also, I will remember all of my professors who made learning the language such an enjoyable process for me.

Future: I plan to continue studying Japanese. As a remote Software Engineer I hope to travel to Japan often and fully immerse myself in the language and culture.

Stay Connected: LinkedIn

Thekla Ketcher

Interest: As someone who is Chinese, I grew up with the Chinese language but did not learn it in a formal academic setting and wanted to improve my speaking and writing skills. Since my high school did not have Chinese as an option, I decided that when I went to college, I would dedicate more time to Chinese and take the opportunity to learn more about it and the history surrounding the language.

First Class: The first class I took was Chinese third semester. The most impactful part of the class was the teacher and TA; the TA was very inspiring in that though English was his first language, his Chinese also seemed like it could be his first language. Having a TA passionate about Chinese and teaching students was encouraging to see and made the class much more engaging. In addition, the students in Chinese class were always down to earth and really easy to talk with; it felt like a little community.

Recommendation: I would say if they were deciding whether or not to major within ALC to just go for it. Majoring anything related to the ALC department will only help you — the opportunities that arise from being an ALC major has been one of the most rewarding experiences during my time here at UW-Madison. I found that most of the classes I enjoyed and felt like I was learning something were related to my Chinese major.

Activities: During my four years at UW-Madison, I have been part of the Taekwondo Club. While taekwondo is more associated with the Korean culture, I have met many friends and members of the club whose native language is Chinese or are learning Chinese as their second language. As a result, I have been able to practice my Chinese as well as share the Chinese culture with people from all kinds of backgrounds, in which this has helped me with my academic experiences as I am able to practice Chinese with others, and occasionally share the ALC community with others.

Memories: One good memory I have from the Chinese community was when our TA, Ma Laoshi, had created a rap song in Chinese. It was a great way to take a break from academics, while also being able to still incorporate Chinese. I remember everyone was really impressed and it brought smiles to everyone’s face. It was moments like these where I was reminded why I valued the ALC department so much as a student.

Future: I hope to attend graduate school to pursue a career in government law enforcement.

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

December 2022 Graduates

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Aniya Schwoerer

BA, Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies, with a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

Interest: In Elementary school, I had a teacher from South Korea who introduced me to her culture and inspired me to take up learning the language. Doing so reminded me of our time together, and later helped me form a community of fellow language learners who supported me throughout my time in university.

First Class: The first class I took with the ALC department was a summer intensive Korean language course with Professor Seunggon Jeong. It was the first class I took as a transfer student at UW Madison, and through it I met some of my lifelong friends.

Recommendations: While the ALC department may be small in comparison to others, there are so many benefits to this. They have built a strong, welcoming community, and by taking classes, attending events, and participating in different opportunities the department offers, you form connections that can lead to even greater opportunities later on.

Activities: With my friends, I helped co-found the 한국어 “해피 아워” (Korean Happy Hour) club. I also worked for the ALC department as a Korean Peer Tutor and volunteered at the Korean Language Table. Additionally, I participated in the GUTS WLL and LE tutoring programs, teaching English in exchange for Korean lessons. Finally, I was a member of the newly formed 사랑채 (Korean) Language House as part of living in the ILC resident hall this semester.

Memories: One memory I will take away from my time with the ALC was my first end of semester gathering. We all met at a park and contributed dishes from our home countries that led to a delicious, diverse spread. Because it began to rain, we had to take shelter inside the pavilion. This ended up being a blessing as it pushed me to speak with staff and students I had never spoken to before. It also allowed me to catch up with those I had not spoken to in a while. These small moments that fostered connections were so critical for me feeling like I had a community I belonged to, and I often relied on these connections later on when searching for opportunities that would help me progresses in my education and career goals.

Future: Through Fulbright, I hope to teach English abroad in South Korea for a year before returning to UW Madison to complete my masters’ degree. After that, I will continue my ESL work in the greater Madison area.

Martin Strey

Interest: As a result of my Dad’s military service, I lived in Okinawa, Japan for three years when I was growing up. When I started high school back in the US, I decided to take Chinese as my foreign language due to my interest in East Asian culture (and the high school not offering Japanese). I ended up having a great teacher who further sparked my interest and inspired me to continue studying Chinese language and culture through college.

First Class: ASIALANG 101 was the first class that I took in the department. After taking a year off from studying Chinese due to scheduling conflicts, I was excited to be able to study the language again. The most impactful thing I took away from this class was the relationships with other students interested in studying Chinese. It gave me a network of individuals that I could practice speaking, reading, and writing with as well as making a few new friends with a similar interest.

Recommendations: Learning a language or studying a culture can be a very daunting task because it is something you are unfamiliar with. However, putting yourself in a situation that you find uncomfortable is necessary for you to grow as a student, learner, and person. You will take many of the lessons and perspectives you gain while studying a foreign culture/language with you regardless of where your career journey takes you.

Activities: One of my greatest commitments during my time at UW was my involvement as a student-athlete. As a member of the football team, I learned to balance the rigorous demands of study and sport while pursuing multiple degrees and a foreign language certificate. In addition, I am involved with the UW Hillel as a way to stay connected to my religious values and meet people with a similar identity to my own. Lastly, I am avid member of Badgers Give Back, which is an organization that allows student-athletes to leverage their platforms and give back to the community that serves them.

Memories: One of the best memories I have from my time with the UW-Madison ALC community was at the end of the 2022 spring semester when a large group from my ASIALANG 454 class celebrated the completion of the semester by going to the Taste of Sichuan restaurant. It was a great experience to enjoy Chinese cuisine with a group of friends whom had all studied the Chinese language together for multiple semesters.

Future: After graduation in December, I plan to return to UW-Madison to pursue a Master of Science in Sports Leadership. While I am unsure what career I want to pursue following my time at university, I know that I have set myself up for success with a diverse set of knowledge led by my involvement in learning the Chinese language and culture. I hope to continue studying Chinese post-graduation and eventually take a trip to China.

Get Connected: LinkedIn

Choua Thao

Interest: I really enjoyed Spanish in high school, so I wanted to try something new when I came into college. I was actually taking a Spanish course at the same time I took my first Japanese course. I fell in love with Japanese and decided to pursue my studies on it.

First Class: The first class I remember taking in the ALC department was ASIALANG 103, first semester Japanese. I just remember the professors and TAs being super supportive and attentive.

Recommendation: Take a language course!

Activities: I was involved with GUTS, and I tutored both English and Japanese. This program gave me the opportunity to give back to the language learning community and got me off my feet. I met interesting people of all backgrounds and got to learn lots of new things. This also gave me the opportunity to review the materials that I should already know.

Memory: I think connecting deeply with the ALC community over the years of my undergrad is most memorable for me. Everyone is so kind and supportive. If not for these people, I don’t think I would have come this far.

Future: No matter where I end up, I want to continue using Japanese. I also look forward to learning other languages and cultures!

Anna Widiker

Interest: I took a Chinese language class in 8th grade and absolutely loved it. As I went further in high school, I realized that I wanted to incorporate Chinese language into my future career, and I wanted it to be something that I could continue to learn about

Classes: I placed into the second year, second semester Chinese (ASIALANG 202) my freshman year. What I remember most about this class and every other class that I have taken in the department was how much I was able to learn from these classes. They were completely different from any other class I had taken. The teachers wanted to teach students the language and confidence in speaking a new language.

Recommendations: I would tell incoming freshmen exploring a major of certificate in the ALC department to go for it! I would tell them that the classes that the ALC department offers have been some of my favorite classes, and the ones where I was able to get to know the instructors better than in my other classes

Activities: I was in CLACC for three years, one of which I was co-president. This gave me a closer look into the ALC community and how hard they work to ensure that students feel included and that they support them in any way they can.

Memories: One memory that I will take with me from being a part of the UW- Madison Chinese and ALC community would be the dumpling night in the fall of 2019. It was the first major club event in CLACC, and I really enjoyed how excited people were and how everyone came together to eat dumplings! It was the first instance where I saw how close people were within the ALC community.

Future: I am looking to teach ESL in Chengdu, China once I get my TEFL certification!

Stay in touch: LinkedIn

May 2022 Graduates

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Sara Montez

BA, Political Science and Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies 

Interest: When I came to UW, I intended to study Korean to help support my goals in Political Science as I wanted to work in US-North Korean diplomacy. However, it only took a semester to find out that I loved learning about East Asian culture and history, leading me to branch out from only Korean language into the other offerings in our department.

Classes: The first class I took was Asian 225, Intro to East Asian Civilizations, which I loved so much that I easily decided to switch my second major from history to Asian Languages and Cultures. The most impactful class I took was Asian 600, Japanese Ghost Stories. Although my interests are more in Korea and China, this class really sparked my love for folklore and ghost stories, something I hope to carry on studying post-graduation.

Recommendations: Don’t limit yourself to classes you feel like you need to take for credit or requirements. Take what interests you, and really try to explore your interests and options within the department even if it’s outside your comfort zone!

Activities: On campus I was a member of the ALC Undergraduate council for 2 years and a peer mentor for 1. I also have spent the last 2 years tutoring students at Madison West High in Korean, which has been a fulfilling and enlightening experience!

Memories: I took our intensive second year Korean course the summer before sophomore year, and although it definitely was difficult at times, I was able to become close with some really great people. One of my best memories is going out to eat at a local Korean restaurant with some of classmates towards the end of the summer, and also the time our TA Jihye took our class to karaoke!

Future: In the future I hope to go to grad school, and will spend the summer researching and deciding on programs! As I have two very different majors that enjoy equally, I’m currently split between attending law school to pursue international law, or continuing with my ALC degree and studying Korean or Chinese folklore (specifically ghost stories/strange tales) and art history.

Julia Nawa

BA, Asian Languages & Cultures and Japanese

Interest: I started taking Japanese classes to try and relearn Japanese so I could speak to my obaachan living in Japan. Over time, I was spending more and more time on Japanese over other classes, and I wasn’t able to take the classes I wanted to because of COVID, so I changed my major to focus on Japanese.

Classes: My first class that I took was 2nd Semester Elementary Japanese (ASIALANG 114) Though I spoke Japanese as a kid, I hadn’t spoke in about 10 year so getting a refresher in what I already knew was great! The most impactful class was Advanced Japanese: Audio/Visual Media (ASIALANG 452) because it connected my previous major, Communication Arts, and Japanese to be able to evaluate and talk about visual/audio media in an opinionated fashion!

Recommendations: Confidence is key when learning a language. It is still something I am learning, but being confident in your own skills and being an active participant in your learning is what is going to help you succeed! Believe in yourself because you’re doing great!

Activities: I’ve been a part of the Japanese Student Association’s executive board for three years! I was a part of the Communications and Social Media team before I became the External Co-President!

Memories: My biggest takeaway from being a part of the UW-Madison ALC and Japanese community is the people that I was able to meet. Being a part of JSA, I was able to outreach and connect even further with my community and I would like to think I made a difference in my time at UW. I am also extremely grateful for my senpai(s) for giving me tools and advice that really helped me to get to where I am today.

Future: As of right now, I don’t have any solid plans, but I am planning to either work in Japanese-English communication for a live entertainment company or go to graduate school to further my education to effectively be able to communicate globally!

Connect: LinkedIn

Garrett Sprouse

BBA, Information Systems, International Business, and Risk Management & Insurance in the Business School, with certificate in Japanese Professional Communication

Interest: I originally took Japanese in high school to be in class with some friends and found that I really enjoyed it and wanted to continue studying it as well as getting my major in International Business

Classes: The first class I took in the department was E ASIAN 124 (Elementary Japanese). The most impactful class that I took was ASIALANG 376 (Japanese Conversation) even though it was online due to the pandemic I learned a lot of valuable lessons and got lots of practice to improve my Japanese speaking ability.

Recommendations: If you are at all interested in taking something within the ALC just go for it. Helping expand your perspective by taking a foreign language and learning about a new culture is an invaluable skill in our ever evolving world and all of the staff within the ALC are more than willing to help you with whatever you may come to them with.

Activities: I worked at Carson’s market for all four years here on campus. I began as a team member but I have been a student shift lead since fall 2020. I have also been an officer in the anime club for the last year and have been a regular member of the RMIS (Risk Management and Insurance Society) since I added it as a major.

Memories: Even when I would be stressed out about other classes, work, etc. I always enjoyed coming in to all of my Japanese classes. Taking a number of classes with the same people throughout my time in the program really helped to build a sense of community that I missed in some of my other larger programs.

Future: I am currently looking for jobs now and am planning to take some time off immediately after graduation. Once I get going again I am planning on getting into insurance underwriting of IT consulting and want to work for a global company so that I can eventually start working with a global team at some point and maybe get to travel.

Connect: LinkedIn

Kelly Luu

BS, Nutritional Sciences in the College of Agriculture & Life Science, with an additional major in Asian Languages & Cultures, and certificates in Global Health and Chinese Professional Communication

Interest: I wanted to work on my Chinese skills and take classes that helped me learn about my cultural background.

Classes: Third Semester Chinese and Introduction to East Asian Studies. Most impactful: Southeast Asian Refugees of the Cold War.

Recommendations: The department has such a wide breadth of different courses you can take, so there is definitely something that will spark your interest! Take advantage of the opportunity to take classes in a whole department dedicated to Asian Studies, especially my education prior to college lacked representation about Asian countries and culture.

Activities: alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Vietnamese Student Association, Union of Vietnamese Student Associations – Midwest, Worked as a pharmacy technician

Memories: All of the Chinese classes I have taken

Future: I will be pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Connect: LinkedIn

Daryan Schultz

BA, Asian Languages & Cultures and Japanese, with certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

Interest: My interest in Japan started when I was still in elementary school, which eventually led me to studying abroad in Japan for a year as a high schooler. After I studied abroad, I couldn’t see myself studying anything else so that’s what led me to my decision to major in Japanese, and then also East Asian Studies here at UW Madison.

Classes: My first semester I was in a FIG that dealt with Japan, and because of that my first semester here was full of classes in the ALC department and they all impacted onto me that is just how much is there is to learn about this area of study, and also the passion of those instructors. I didn’t grow up with many people enjoying the same things I did, so when I first got to UW Madison and took classes taught by people and with people who loved the same things I did it felt amazing.

Recommendations: Just try it out! There are thankfully so many classes that overlap with your gen eds, you can really get a feel for what you’re getting into before you commit.

Activities: I was in Nihongo House within International Learning Community my first two years of school, and also participated in many JSA events over my time here at UW Madison.

Memories: A memory I will take with me from being part of the UW-Madison ALC/Chinese/Japanese community is from the summer between my freshmen and sophomore year (summer 2019) when I took the intensive summer Japanese courses. Although the class schedule was tough, I made so many friends and acquaintances in those classes that I ran into again and again throughout the years in different ALC related classes. It really helped build a sense of community within the program for me, and we all suffered through those 8 weeks together which was super fun and challenging.

Future: I will be moving to Chiba, Japan this August to start my job as a ALT with the Wisconsin-Chiba ALT program. After teaching for a few years I hope to go back to grad school for TESOL or perhaps Library and Information Sciences.

Amanda Goldstein

BSES, Education Studies, School of Education, with Global Health and Chinese Professional Communication certificates

Interest: I took Mandarin in high school and was always fascinated in learning another language and culture, so continuing to study Chinese in college seemed like an amazing choice! At first I was nervous the classes would be too difficult, so I didn’t sign up freshmen year. However, when sophomore year came around, I knew I needed to take Chinese and I am so glad I did! With the support of all of my classmates and professors, taking Chinese was definitely doable and not frightening at all!

Classes: The first class I took was first semester Chinese. I remember watching a video in Mandarin about making friends and the professor had our whole class sing along. It was super cute! This class was just good vibes all around, and every day in class I would be smiling and laughing along while studying and improving my Chinese communication skills.

Recommendations: You should 100% do it! Earning a certificate in the ALC department was one of the best college decisions I’ve ever made and made my college experience so much more fun! Asides from having an amazing time in all of these classes, they’ve truly came to benefit me in all of my graduate school/job searching endeavors. It’s usually one of the first things an employer will ask me about when they see on my resume. I would also be more than happy to talk about my experiences with any incoming freshmen who is considering 🙂

Activities: During my junior and senior year of college, I worked at Mansfield Hall, which is a residential building for diverse college students. I learned so much about different students needs in college, which then came to support my own academic experience!

Memories: I will take away the memory of forming strong friendships in the department with students and faculty alike!

Future: I am excited to share that I will be moving to Chicago in August to attend Rush University and receive my masters in Speech-Language Pathology!

Connect: LinkedIn

Andrea Francesca

BBA, Marketing, School of Business with an additional major in Chinese

Interest: As an Indonesian of Chinese descent, I’ve always had an interest in Chinese. I enjoyed practicing Chinese with my grandma and I studied Chinese in middle and high school too. I never got to learn the foundation for Chinese very well during middle and high school, so I wanted to take the opportunity at UW to build the proper foundations.

Classes: Chinese 1 with Zhang Tianlu laoshi is the first class I remember in the department. It really set the tone for the rest of the Chinese classes at UW. I truly felt that the Chinese department is very welcoming and Chinese classes feel like home to me more than other classes of other departments. I think ASIALANG 378: Chinese Conversation was the most impactful class for me. I wasn’t a very strong Chinese speaker, but this class pushed me to be more confident in delivering presentations in Chinese and talk about various topics.

Recommendations: Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language beyond the classroom, you’ll find yourself learning more and enjoying the language you’re learning even more. I personally love watching Chinese dramas because I learn a lot of colloquial words and also understand how words I learned in class are used in the daily/media context. If you have another major aside from any language major, make sure each of your semesters have a mix of both your main major + the language major. It keeps things fun!

Activities: I have been working for Rachel Weiss these past two semesters as the ALC social media intern and I learned a lot through this internship by familiarizing myself with social media, design, and e-mail marketing. This helped me with my digital marketing courses.

Memories: In the start of the pandemic at summer 2020, I was stuck in Madison and couldn’t go back to Jakarta, my hometown. I spent that summer taking 3rd and 4th Chinese and a Chinese literature class. Those classes allowed me to meet my classmates everyday for a few hours for partner work, and I made meaningful conversations with different people that summer.

Future: I will be spending about a year or so in the US to find a job relating to my major in Marketing. Even if I will be mostly focusing on my career in business/marketing for these next few years, I hope to find time to study Chinese in China someday!

Connect: LinkedIn

Dominic Ritacco

BS, Biochemistry, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, with an additional major in Chinese

Interest: I was fortunate enough that my school district began teaching foreign languages starting in sixth grade. I decided to learn Chinese since it was so different than English and I knew it would be a great skill to have. I was immediately enthralled with Chinese languages and cultures and continued to take classes throughout high school and into college.

Classes: I vividly remember that the first class of my college career was E Asian 201. Before class, I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone in the program; however, almost immediately my classmates introduced themselves and we all quickly became friends. Even into Senior year, I continue to talk to and take classes with some of the friends I met in that class.

Recommendations: I could not recommend taking Asian Languages and Cultures classes enough. The instructors are extremely nice and they all want you to succeed. Explore as much as you can!

Activities: I attended Chinese tables hosted by CLACC, and some of their other amazing events. I lived in the Biohouse learning community my Freshman year and was also involved with Badger Volunteers.

Memories: It is hard to narrow down one specific memory because I had so many within the ALC community. However, one thing I will never forget was that on Friday mornings in my conversational Chinese course, our whole class, including our TA would start off with Tai-chi or other Chinese mediations.

Future: Next year I will be attending Columbia University’s Microbiology and Immunology PhD program. I hope to pursue a career in research and utilize both my Biochemistry and Chinese majors!

Reena Samuel

BA, Chinese and Economics major, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I’ve always wanted a career in international trade and taking Chinese Language seemed like the best option!

Classes: My first class was ASIALANG 101 with Tianlu Zhang!! I loved her energy and commitment to teaching us Chinese!! Seeing so many of my peers become excited to learn encouraged me to as well.

Recommendations: Learning a language is tough but so rewarding. You got this!

Memories: Participating in the Tianjin Summer Intensive Program was a blast. It felt like language immersion.

Future: I hope to continue my studies of Chinese and obtain a job in which I can communicate with Chinese people often.

Connect: LinkedIn

Christy Zheng

BS, Asian Languages & Cultures – Honors in the major, Biology, Honors in the Liberal Science, with certificates in Chinese Professional Communication, Asian American Studies, Biocore Curriculum Honors, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I was interested in studying an Asian Languages & Culture in college because I was never given the opportunity to do so prior to coming to Madison. I wanted to learn more about my own language and culture in a classroom with professors who were expert in this field.

Classes: The first class I remember was learning Chinese in ASIALANG 101 with Zhang Laoshi. It was the most impactful experience I had because it taught me that learning a language can be hard but so enjoyable when you’re learning with your peers and friends. Zhang Laoshi and my classmates inspired me to continue learning and practicing Chinese.

Recommendations: Try anything! Rather you have some or a lot of interest in studying Asian Languages and Cultures, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn and love about a major or certificate in the ALC department.

Activities: Chinese Language and Culture Club

Memories: All of the memories, happy tears, and laughs about learning Chinese in this community with friends, peers, and instructors.

Future: In the future, I hope to continue practicing Chinese and using my knowledge in anything I pursue.

Ben Krongard

BS, Education Studies, School of Education with additional majors in Chinese and History

Interest: I studied Mandarin in high school and figured I would take the placement test and try out at least one class in college. I really enjoyed my experience in that class and decided to keep studying it throughout college.

Classes: Second semester Chinese, just getting the chance to learn the language every day and being in such a small class with people that all cared about learning made it a really fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

Recommendations: Take a class and see if you like it! While I have no plans to use my Chinese language skills directly next year, I have zero regrets about studying the language and the culture. I have met so many great people, have felt challenged by the language, and at times overwhelmed, but ultimately it has been so satisfying to slowly make progress and learn so much about Chinese language and culture.

Activities: I played on the men’s soccer team and worked for a little bit at Four Lakes dining hall.

Memories: I remember my sophomore year my whole 3rd semester Chinese class went to taste of Sichuan together, it introduced me to a restaurant I’ve come to love and I had so much fun seeing my teachers and classmates outside of our normal classroom setting.

Future: I would like to teach history in the future, but if it is possible I would love to teach Chinese also!

Connect: LinkedIn

Genevieve Connell

BA, Chinese, French, International Studies, with certificates in Development Economics, East Asian Studies, and European Studies, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I first started learning Chinese when I was in high school and was immediately fascinated with the language and the culture. I wanted to know more, and I was very moved my my high school teacher who majored in Chinese at UW.

Classes: First semester Chinese was one of the very first classes I took in college and the staff and faculty was the absolute best. The teaching staff was wonderful!

Recommendations: Chinese is an extremely important language to learn. Although it’s very difficult to reach fluency in it, it is a lifelong path to go down, and it never gets boring. It also looks really good on a résumé.

Activities: I worked as well as participated in a variety of school sports and academic clubs including Chinese table each Friday. That was a great way to become closer with my classmates and friends within the department.

Memories: Big Zhang laoshi’s hearty laugh that would shake his shoulders. He recently retired after a long and meaningful 20 years running the department. Evening Chinese lectures were long and sometimes hard to endure especially during a rough week, but Zhang Laoshi never failed to make us laugh.

Future: I would really like to teach English abroad in China and in the future work in the Foreign Service to improve diplomatic relations between China and the US.

Elaina Radden

BA, Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies, with certificate in Japanese Professional Communication, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I studied Japanese language in high school and taught myself Korean during that time as well and really fell in love with both languages. As I learned more about those cultures, I became enamored with East Asian cinema and music in particular and wanted to pursue some kind of East Asian focused major in college. So once I got into UW I enrolled in as many culture, history, art history, literature, and other associated classes as I could. Studying at UW has deepened a love for East Asia that was only blossoming when I first came to Madison.

Classes: Japanese 124, I think. It was an elementary Japanese class where I ended up meeting one of my closest friends and got to know a lot of people in the same major.

Recommendations: Don’t be afraid to ask questions or talk to your professors or TAs. The faculty in the ALC department are by far some of the easiest people to talk to in any department in my opinion. Your love of all things Asian culture, language, etc. are shared if not lived and breathed by your professors and TAs. Rachel Weiss is a super chill advisor, too.

Activities: I wasn’t a part of many organizations or clubs, but I worked and interned a lot. Over these last 4 years I spent a good portion of my time working at the Chazen Museum of Art as a Visitor Services Assistant. While there I made lots of friends, learned so much about art, history, and the community, and came to realize that I am obsessed with Japanese Ukiyo-e. I even got to momentarily work on translating some Ukiyo-e prints that came to the museum; the Suikoden series by Yoshitoshi. Aside from working, I interned at 2 Japanese companies: Asterism Healthcare and JR Central. I did also land an internship with ANA but it was canceled due to COVID. The internships that I did end up doing were both virtual and had me doing everything from translation, communications, marketing, and PR. It was a great way to experience Japanese business culture and apply my skills gained in the classroom.

Memories: In my first 2 years I lived in the Japanese language house, which is one of the many language houses in the Adam’s dormitory. While there I met so many friends who were in the same major and/or classes as me. We went to events together, spoke Japanese together, and supported one another. I remember when I was a freshman I entered the Japanese speech contest and lots of my friends from the Japanese house came to support me. While I didn’t win, I received so much support from the professors and TA’s who were there, as well as my friends. It’s an embarrassing but great memory.

Future: My dream is to live and work in either Japan or Korea. For now, I am planning to go to Japan after graduation. I want to keep studying for another year or so, and then apply for jobs in both Japan and Korea. I am really interested in administration and am eyeing some jobs in the government sector as well.

Connect: LinkedIn

Nils Peterson

BA, Chinese and History, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I became fascinated with Chinese history and the language classes naturally followed.

Classes: When it was my turn to speak in virtual first semester Chinese, my building’s fire alarm went off and I had to evacuate.

Recommendations: I made some of my closest friends through taking Chinese classes and studying East Asia. It is a lot of work but well worth studying such as fascinating part of the world!

Activities: I served as an editor for the Wisconsin International Review and wrote several articles for the publication. In addition, I interned at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, focusing on Chinese foreign policy.

Memories: I will always remember seeing my classmates faces for the first time without a mask. The sense of community in the ALC over the pandemic will be a lasting memory.

Future: I hope to work on United States foreign policy, with a focus on China. After the pandemic abates, it would be great to spend time studying in China and Taiwan.

Connect: LinkedIn

Xinya Wang

BS, Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies and Economics, College of Letters & Science

Interest: Love K-pop.

Classes: ASIALANG 105, and was determined to declare the major.

Recommendations: It’s worth a try!

Activities: UNICEF.

Memories: Patient professors, and nice classmates.

Future: Graduate School

Margaret Hope

BA, Asian Languages & Cultures, with French certificate, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I have always loved learning about other cultures and other languages more than anything. I have loved East Asian culture since I was incredibly young and have always enjoyed learning about the music, history, and pop culture of these countries.

Classes: My first class that I remembered was definitely my 3rd Semester Korean course (ASIALANG 205) and the most impactful class was definitely my ASIAN 300 Class on Korean Pop Culture.

Recommendations: I would say that East Asian Languages are hard, so you have to work extremely hard to progress.

Activities: Despite being in the Korean Flagship program for only one year, it was extremely helpful in my college experience because it gave me a chance to form stronger relationships with the professors in my department.

Memories: I will definitely cherish the friends that I have been able to meet and bond with over our mutual stress and triumphs in our classes.

Future: I hope to teach in Korea after I graduate and after that, I hope to get a job helping global companies communicate with each other or maybe someday work for the Olympic committee.

Josie Anderson

BA, Japanese and International Studies, College of Letters & Science

Interest: I was able to take Japanese language classes at my high school and briefly travel to Japan to stay with a host family, which further encouraged my growing interest in learning Japanese before I started college. Once I discovered that UW-Madison offers a Japanese program, I knew that I wanted to keep studying Japanese in college here. I realized that I wanted to pursue Japanese language learning on a deeper level and major in Japanese soon after I began taking Japanese classes here at UW-Madison. 🙂

Classes: The first ALC class that I took was First Semester Japanese. I felt that it added to my previous beginner Japanese knowledge from high school and solidified my foundational Japanese skills. The class included a mini speech contest near the end of the semester, which was a very new experience for me since I had never written and presented a speech in Japanese before.

Recommendations: I would strongly recommend taking at least one of the many amazing classes offered in the department – you can’t go wrong! All of the faculty are so wonderful and supportive, and I have learned a lot of valuable knowledge and skills from all of the classes I have been able to take as a Japanese major.

Activities: This year I volunteered as an ALC Peer Mentor, and also tutored a Madison-area middle school student and high school student online in Japanese. This year and last year, I participated in a few different Japanese/English conversation time events that were held both online and in person. Last summer, I completed an internship through the International Internship Program and worked as a virtual Japanese translation intern for a Japanese nutraceutical company. I worked at Union South during the 2020-21 school year, and the year before that I worked at the Babcock Hall Dairy Store. I have also participated in a handful of events hosted by JSA (the Japanese Student Association). All of these various activities have greatly enriched my undergraduate student experience.

Memories: I have gained a lot of special memories that I will always cherish, and one of these memories that I will take with me is of going to the Schuster’s Haunted Forest JSA event last October and having a great time getting spooked with friends.

Future: My first step in my post-graduation plan is to teach English in a high school in Chiba Prefecture, Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher starting later this summer. After at least one year of working as an ALT in Japan through the Chiba-WI ALT Program, I plan on pursuing Japanese translation work.

Nathaniel English

BA, Japanese and History, with certificates in Studio Art and Game Design, College of Letters & Science

Interest: Before coming to Madison, I knew that I wanted to try and study a language at the university. After considering the available options, I decided to try out an entry level Japanese course since I wanted to challenge myself with something new and believed that it fit well within my interests.

Classes: My first class with the ALC was First Semester Japanese. Despite the fact there were a great number of students in my lecture hour, I still felt like my professor and the course’s assistant instructors gave me an excellent amount of attention and help.

Recommendations: Personally, I would want to recommend trying a language course. I believe that the programs available at UW-Madison are stellar, and offer a great number of opportunities to become more interested in the outside world.

Activities: I lived in the International Learning Community for two years, and the ILC’s Japanese House for one. Aside from just deciding on where I lived on-campus, participating in the ILC allowed me to take exclusive classes and participate in special events, which I greatly appreciated.

Memories: I specifically remember one of my classmates from my first semester language course volunteering me to participate in a special video project that was not being graded. Since we were the only two students working on this assignment, I felt like I was stepping out of my comfort zone in a good way, even though I did not have much Japanese experience at the time.

Future: At the end of this summer I will be going to Chiba Prefecture to work as an Assistant Language Teacher in a Japanese high-school. I am excited by the idea of being able to help students in a similar way that my TAs have helped me over the past few years.

Vivienne Wooldridge

BSE, Elementary Education, School of Education, with an additional major in Chinese, and East Asian Studies certificate

Interest: I’ve been taking Chinese classes since I was in elementary school, and wanted to continue growing my Chinese skills at UW. I’m hoping to use my skills to become a Chinese teacher and/or live abroad!

Classes: My first class in the ALC department was 5th semester Chinese, and my most impactful class was Introduction to East Asian Civilizations, because I learned so much valuable and contextual information about East Asian history. I also loved the class Queer Asia!

Recommendations: Go for it! The ALC has tons of amazing classes to choose from with lots of super interesting topics. And if you’re interested in languages, the ALC language classes are amazing! I have learned and grown so much through these classes.

Activities: This past year, I have been the ALC Chinese peer tutor, which has helped me keep up with my Chinese even after I’ve already finished taking classes for my Chinese major. I was also an intern for Guangwai-Pacelli High School in Guangzhou, where I advised Chinese high schoolers on going to college abroad. I found this opportunity through UW’s International Internship Program! In my freshman year, I also participated in the annual Midwest University Chinese Speech Contest, which helped me grow so much as a Chinese learner. One program that has also supported me in my studies is the Wisconsin International Scholars Program, which has pushed me to be a more globally-minded person.

Memories: Tianlu Zhang and Rachel Weiss have both been so supportive during my time at UW. Zhang Laoshi was so thoughtful and caring as a professor, especially as we have gone through the pandemic. She is an amazing professor! Rachel has shown and given me so many opportunities at UW and beyond, and I am so thankful for her guidance and support.

Future: After graduation, I will be going to Taiwan for a year to teach English through the Fulbright program. Once I come back from Taiwan, I would love to teach at a Chinese immersion school somewhere in the US!

Connect: LinkedIn

Senior Profiles

We are extremely proud of our graduates. As you can see from their profiles, the future looks bright for these Badgers, and the world. On, Wisconsin!

We asked all our seniors to reflect on these questions to create their senior profiles:

  1. How did you get interested in studying an Asian Language & Culture in college?
  2. What was your first class that you remember in our department, and what was most impactful?
  3. What would you say to an incoming freshman exploring a major or certificate in the ALC department?
  4. What activities were you involved with on campus that supported your academic experiences in the classroom (ie student orgs, clubs, internships, volunteering, jobs)?
  5. What is a memory that you will take with you from being a part of the UW-Madison ALC / Chinese / Japanese community?
  6. What are your hopes, plans, and dreams for the future?

Are you graduating? Want to add your profile? Please fill out this form:

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