Senior Profiles

Chandra Bearden

Chandra Bearden

BS, Computer Science, and Japanese, May 2021

Interest: I was first introduced to Japanese through watching anime and reading manga, but shortly after I fell in love with the language and culture. I had always wanted to learn a second language, and I was very interested in the different writing style and structure of Japanese, so I absolutely had to study it.

Classes: The first Asian Language & Culture class I took was First Semester Japanese (ASIALANG 103) my freshman year. It was my first official introduction to Japanese and was without a doubt the most exciting class I took that year. I think that this class was the most impactful to me because it gave me the foundation that I needed, and it really solidified my choice in learning the language.

Recommendations: Go for it! The ALC department is very supportive and can answer any concerns you have. You’ll learn about new cultures and gain valuable skills for future careers.

Activities: I have participated in the Japanese language tables and worked with a tutor in GUTS to improve my conversation and reading skills.

Memories: Studying abroad in Kyoto, Japan. It was the best year of my life being able to explore Japan, meet so many amazing people from different cultures, and improve my language skills by speaking with native speakers.

Future: I plan to get some experience working in industry and then aim for medical school. I would love to find a job where I can use Japanese and hopefully one day visit Japan again.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Toyoto Borgmann

Toyoto Borgmann

BBA, Actuarial Science, Risk Management & Insurance, and Certificate in Japanese Professional Communication, May 2021

Interest: I started learning Japanese at a very young age; coming into college I did not want to waste any of that hard work, or worse yet, risk losing what I had grown up learning.

Classes: My first class was ASIALANG 403. I remember enjoying learning Japanese again, and deciding to fully commit to completing the Professional Communications certificate.

Recommendations: In my opinion it’s never too late to learn a new language and culture, so don’t be afraid to give it a try!

Activities: Although I held a number of jobs and internships, my most impactful involvements were my student organizations. I am an active member of the Club Tennis Team as well as the Psi Upsilon Fraternity.

Memories: I used to spend every summer in Japan; I never fully appreciated this until I was unable to do so the past few years, and I cannot wait for the next opportunity to visit again.

Future: I will be starting full-time work in Chicago in August 2021.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Frank Breu

Frank Breu

BA, Chinese, Political Science, and Certificate in East Asian Studies, May 2021

Interest: I have been studying Chinese since elementary school, and I had always planned on using my Chinese skills professionally. After taking one semester of Chinese at UW, I knew I both needed and wanted to major in it.

Classes: Third Semester Chinese–It was so fun and engaging, it was like I fell in love with the language all over again, plus it was amazing to have such a well-taught course. I felt like I was learning so much content every class and I could not get enough of it.

Recommendations: Do it. Honestly, I doubt anyone regrets majoring in any ALC Major~~~~~(unless you really have zero interest)

Activities: I was a frequent participant in the weekly Chinese Table, hosted by CLAAC. My freshman year, I won the Midwest regional Chinese speech contest held at the University of Chicago. I have also been able to occasionally practice my Chinese with a few coworkers, as I worked as a custodian for University Housing all three years of my undergraduate experience.

Memories: I will always hold very fond memories of filming my project for Dr. Rania Huntington’s Classical Chinese course, wherein me and a fellow classmate sang an ancient text to the tune of Swallowtail Jig~ It was hands-down the best course I’ve ever taken in my life, and I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.

Future: As with most people right now, my future is pretty ambiguous. I’d love to pursue opportunities to live and work in China, but I could see myself pursuing teaching or graduate school.

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Carissa Goddeau

Carissa Goddeau

BBA, Management & Human Resources; BMAJ, Political Science, and Chinese Professional Communication Certificate

Interest: I started learning Mandarin Chinese in high school and fell in love with the language and culture. Once I got to college, I wanted to continue engaging in the language for my personal enjoyment and because it is an important professional language.

Classes: The first class I took was First Semester Chinese. I remember that I learned more Mandarin Chinese in the first semester here than I had in three years of classes in high school. The most impactful was the last class I took: Sixth Semester Chinese. This is because by that time we had created a community and I became really good friends with many of my classmates.

Recommendations: I would tell them that if they are pursuing a language, to take a lot of time studying, go beyond class vocabulary by watching TV shows and listening to music in the language, and take every opportunity you can.

Activities: It doesn’t relate to my language exactly, but I was very involved in sustainability on campus including through student organizations (CLEAN and Climate Reality Project) and an internship at the Office of Sustainability. This helped me become more comfortable speaking in my classes even if I was wrong because I knew there was a community supporting me and wanting to help.

Memories: All of the professors and TAs in the Chinese language department are incredible and I will never forget the wonderful community they made in our classes.

Future: I hope to either work with sustainability or environmentalism in some way, either in consulting or through legislation and government affairs work.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Genevieve Jacobs

Genevieve Jacobs

BA, Asian Languages & Cultures – East Asian Studies, Mathematics, and Statistics, and Chinese Professional Communication Certificate, May 2021

Interest: I had been studying Chinese language since my freshman year of high school, so I came into college already with an interest. At first, I planned to only take one semester of Chinese, but that turned into pursuing the certificate which then turned into pursuing the major.

Classes: The first class I took in the ALC department was Third Semester Chinese (201) with Zhu Weihua. It was incredible to learn the language with people who also had great enthusiasm for the subject. In terms of courses, they have all been impactful! I will always remember the Gateway to Asia course I took, Manga Unbound. Through the lens of manga and with many guest lecturers across the department, I got to learn a bit about so many countries. It was extremely eye-opening.

Recommendations: I would certainly advise an incoming freshman to go for it! The courses work well with satisfying the general education requirements, two birds one stone. More importantly, though, I would say that the faculty and staff are all friendly and there to help. Their passions for their areas are contagious and it will make your learning even more enjoyable! I cannot say enough great things about the ALC department.

Activities: My most memorable involvement was my membership in the ALC Undergraduate Council. We come from a diverse group of interests but we are all in the same department. It has created a wonderful sense of community. Additionally, from a volunteer position to a job, I worked as a social media intern for the ALC department. This helped me to appreciate and participate in the network even more.

Memories: I will always remember the wholesome classroom environment of my Japanese language courses. Okamoto-sensei made every single class enjoyable. Laughs were a constant. He was very patient with us students as we struggled. Even though we were at the elementary level, he made the grammar and vocabulary feel relevant. I will always admire that the atmosphere was preserved even when we transitioned online. It was truly a gift for me during social distancing times. I always smile when I remember those classes.

Future: I am sure that I will always remain in education. Whether that is being a high school mathematics teacher, teaching ESL abroad, or working my way up to a professor position, I have not yet decided my exact path. However, my one hope for the future has always been certain, I hope to be happy.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Jake Jae Yong Lee

Jake Jae Yong Lee

BS, Economics with Mathematical Emphasis, Chinese Professional Communication Certificate, May 2021

Interest: When I was young, my father worked in China. My family lived in Korea, but later moved all together to China to be with him. While staying in China, I was fascinated with new cultures, language and people which made me to study Chinese in the university.

Classes: My first Class was ASIALANG 202 taught by professor Weihua Zhu. I think this was most impactful class because it allowed me to learn how Chinese language was taught in university and acknowledge the difference between teaching methods of different nations where I learned Chinese.

Recommendations: Learning a new language is not just learning alphabets and characters – it is learning the history and culture that a country has developed from its beginning to current days. Do not think that language is there just for sole purpose of communication.

Activities: I participated in two Chinese Bridge speech contest and won first place awards in different levels, which was a wonderful experience. In addition, I am a financial officer of CLACC (Chinese Language and Culture Club) to serve the Chinese language community of the university.

Memories: The memory of traveling with professors and TAs for competition would be the memory that I will remember for a long time.

Future: I am currently applying jobs on financial field. However, one day I would like to use my language skills to perform financial duties in China or working with Chinese officials.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Claudia Liu

Claudia Liu

BS, Biochemistry, Gender & Women’s Studies, and Certificate in Japanese Professional Communication, May 2021

Interest: I started to self-learn Japanese when I was 13, but hasn’t had a chance to do so systematically. In the summer before college I brought it to N3 and felt so strong an urge to keep exploring. That led me to ALC.

Classes: ASIALANG 203. Personally means a whole lot to me. I made my decision to keep learning Japanese in college and was determined to take it to a level that I could communicate rather comfortably in Japanese. ASIALANG 203 was the starting point. I met so many incredible friends and really enjoyed it.

Recommendations: Please don’t be afraid to reach out to faculties/ALC graduates. Faculty members at ALC, at least to my knowledge, are all very informative and always willing to help. College is a time to explore your interests, so take the time and go for it.

Activities: kaiwa no kai (会話の会)is my all time favorite.

Memories: The time I spent with my classmates struggling through vocab lists/readings and the time I spent studying abroad.

Future: Personally I’m going for a PhD. program in Chemical Biology and hopefully start a career in research either in a company in Japan or in the academia 🙂

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Catherine Lukasik

Catherine Lukasik

BS, Retail & Consumer Behavior, Chinese, and Digital Studies Certificate, May 2021

Interest: I started studying Chinese in high school and instantly fell in love with the language and the culture. When I arrived at UW-Madison, I was ecstatic to find out that I could continue studying this passion.

Classes: My first class was Elementary Chinese. Following this course, I’ve taken numerous Chinese classes. My favorite and most impactful class was Chinese Conversation. I had the privilege of taking this course in Tianjin where I was fully immersed in the culture and learned how to have everyday conversations in Chinese.

Recommendations: I would recommend participating in Chinese Language and Culture Club. This club introduced me to a lot of my peers and teachers and was a fun way to learn outside of the classroom.

Activities: I participated in Chinese Language and Culture Club as well as the UW – Tianjin Intensive Language Program.

Memories: My time studying abroad in Tianjin will forever be a highlight of my life and studies at UW-Madison.

Future: I’m currently working as a Sales Assistant and Tribe 9 Foods. Tribe 9 Foods is a B-Corp that is committed to making a positive impact on the community and the environment. I hope that I can continue on with these ethics in any of my future occupations.

Connect: LinkedIn

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Jessica Matson

Jessica Matson

B.A., Chinese and Journalism, May 2021

Interest: I grew up in Hong Kong where I began learning Mandarin from a very young age. When I moved back to the US for my sophomore year of high school I decided to continue studying Mandarin with a tutor since my high school did not offer the language. When I began my freshman year at UW, I did not intend to study Mandarin, but after a few days I realized It is a valuable skill that I did not want to give up learning.

Classes: The first class I remember taking is first semester Chinese with Zhang Laoshi. I remember feeling so impressed by the students who had never come in contact with the language before because I could understand how hard they must have been working.

Recommendations: The community is so tight knit which is an amazing perk and GO TO TIANJIN!!!

Activities: I participated in CLACC and ASM the most, both are great orgs to be part of! I also did a lot of political canvassing throughout my first and second years at UW. In addition, during COVID I moved back to Hong Kong where I took part in an internship at a recruitment firm and am now working for a restaurant group.

Memory: I will never forget my time in Tianjin. The trip was life-changing and improved my language skills.

Future: I hope COVID ends, I would love to go to China and become fluent in Chinese and I am excited to see where my current job takes me!

Connect: LinkedIn

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Vivian Wong

Vivian Wong

B.A., Legal Studies, Chinese Professional Communication Certificate, and Criminal Justice Certificate, May 2021

Interest: I got interested in studying Asian Language and Culture because of wanting to connect with my Chinese roots and culture. As I learned more about the language in high school I wanted to further my studies so that I can expand my career into Asia.

Classes: My first class with the Asian department was ASIALANG 301. The most impactful takeaway from this class is that the professor really do care about her students. She is willing to help each student succeed and provide resources to further their Chinese.

Recommendations: Remain open minded and stay resilient when thinking of learning a new language. Though learning a new language can be difficult, all the hard work will pay off as cliche as it sounds. It is very rewarding when you can communicate with your peerS in their native tongue. Learning a new language is very influential that can bring a lot of new opportunities to your future whether it is professionally or academically

Activities: I was very active with my sorority called alpha Kappa Delta Phi which is focuses on Asian Awareness, Leadership, Scholarship, and Philanthropy. I was also involved in a volunteer organization called Camp Kesem.

Memory: One memory I will take with me is all the relationships I have made through my Chinese class. It has made learning Chinese more fun and easier.

Future: After graduation, I will continue working at the Department of Justice while preparing for Law School.

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Add Your Profile

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020-2021! 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: https://forms.gle/TXdn5S2auqbd1JXg8

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