Featured Alumni

Gregoire Faucher '16Grégoire Faucher ’16
Major: Government and Legal Studies, Asian Studies Minor
Current position: Graduate Student, Stanford University, Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS); Product Manager for Loop Now Technologies

When I was 17 years old, I knew next to nothing about Japan and its culture. On a whim I applied to Stanford University’s Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP), an intensive online course for high school students that focuses on Japan and U.S.–Japan relations. In hindsight, the decision to apply was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Six years and many ‘East Asian experiences’ later, I owe much of the inspiration to study Japan to the RSP. By the end of the program I had developed a true and profound interest in Japan and East Asia.

Before the start of my final year at Bowdoin, I spent part of my summer wandering Tokyo, Kyoto, and everywhere in between. Although my first trip to Japan was in part to explore its beautiful cities, it also served a greater purpose. I wanted to know if all the years I had spent studying Japan since the conclusion of the RSP had been worth it. My trip to Japan ultimately helped me to determine whether or not I wanted to continue my study of the country and surrounding region. After all, who wants to continue studying a part of the world that disappoints them once they’ve actually visited it? Thankfully however, from the moment I arrived in Haneda, to my last night spent gazing across Tokyo’s incredible skyline, I knew I had made the right decision to continue studying Japan.

After graduating Bowdoin College with a degree in government and legal studies and East Asian studies, I made the decision to pursue a master’s degree at Stanford University’s Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS). Having only taken one year of Japanese at Bowdoin, I was both nervous and intimidated to be studying at one of the world’s best universities in a language-intensive program. I can safely say the reason I am able to write this message to you from Stanford’s campus is because of the inspiration and support that I received from Professors Henry Laurence, Hiroo Aridome, Vyjayanthi Selinger, and Sakura Christmas. Currently, I’m studying transnational crime (particularly human trafficking) in East Asia as well as U.S.–Japan relations. When I’m not pumping myself with caffeine in one of Stanford’s many libraries I’m working full-time as a product manager for Loop Now Technologies, an app company started by one of LinkedIn’s founding members.

For those of you who are unsure whether or not to study Japanese, the answer has and always will be a simple one—do it. Bowdoin’s Japanese program and Asian Studies department are incredible so take advantage of them while you’re a Polar Bear! As a native French speaker who thought he already knew how to speak the most beautiful language in the world—well, let’s just say I’m okay with ties.

Michael Colbert '16Michael Colbert ’16
Major: Romance Languages
Current position: Admissions Counselor, Bowdoin College

As a Romance languages major at Bowdoin, I was looking to branch out and learn a different language my senior year. I had always been interested in Japanese and I found that the Bowdoin Japanese Program community gave me ample opportunities to explore Japanese language and culture.

After graduating, I spent a year as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) on the JET Program in a small city in Hokkaido. I taught English at Takikawa Nishi Senior High School alongside Japanese teachers in the school’s general course. Since I taught only at one school, I had plenty of chances to get to know the teachers and students there through English class, English club, or cultural exchange activities in the city. Outside of work, I had plenty of chances to explore Hokkaido and make friends from all around the world, from Japan to Singapore to New Zealand. Although I only studied Japanese for one year before going, my time spent in Japan has inspired me to continue a lifelong study of Japanese.

Mai Kristofferson '13Mai Kristofferson ’13
Major: Government and Asian Studies
Current position: Marketing Manager at Pacific Reach Advisors, Inc.

After graduating as a Government and Asian Studies double-major, I ventured to Tokyo to join a domestic-Japanese marketing research and consulting company. I first connected with the firm at the 2012 Boston Career Forum in the fall of my senior year. Choosing a domestic company allowed me to accelerate my language acquisition and immerse myself in Japanese business culture. As the only native English-speaker in the company, I spent the first year in the Accounting and Finance division. There, I studied basic accounting while getting acclimated to life in Japan. Then, after a unusual but exciting merger with a European marketing research company, I became executive assistant and translator for our newly appointed Dutch CEO.

More than anything, Bowdoin encouraged me to ask questions and respectfully critique what others may consider the norm. It encouraged me to take risks and embrace challenge—all values that carried me through my two whirlwind years in Tokyo. Today, I’m traveling back and forth from Tokyo while working with a small start-up in California that connects US undergraduates with promising career opportunities in Japan. Ultimately, I plan on marrying my Bowdoin degree and my experience in Japan by pursuing law school and a career in transnational corporate law.

Kim Lacey '13Kim Lacey ’13
Major: Eurasian and East European Studies/minor in Japanese
Current position: Coordinator for International Relations for the City of Asahikawa in Hokkaido, Japan

I majored in Eurasian and East European Studies with a minor in Japanese. To pursue my passion in International Relations, I decided to work in Japan after graduation. I was offered a position as the Coordinator for International Relations in the second biggest city in Hokkaido. I have been working for the past two years with the local Japanese government and had some amazing opportunities to get involved in international events as a representative of my city, such as FIS Snowboard World Cup and IPC Cross-country Skiing World Cup. It has been really great to be able to live and work in Japan, actually using the language and knowledge from Bowdoin. In my free time, I often go out to explore the beautiful nature of Hokkaido and other parts of Japan. After this summer, I will attend the KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Korea on a full scholarship funded by the South Korean government.The school is affiliated with the Korea Development Institute, which is a leading think tank in Asia. It will be a great opportunity for me to build a valuable professional network around the world.

Sarah Siwak '13Sarah Siwak '13
Major: Russian
Current position: Sr. Content Marketing Manager and Editorial Lead, Gengo

I graduated from Bowdoin with a Russian degree, but spent a significant amount of time learning Japanese, film and working with digital media on and around campus. I’ve found a way to combine these interests by working with international companies in Silicon Valley. Gengo is a Japanese-American translation startup headquartered in Tokyo, and I have the pleasure of using everything that I’ve learned at Bowdoin technically and linguistically to develop our content—infographics, guides, webpages and more—in five languages. Translation naturally attracts polyglots, so our office speaks a blend of languages. Japanese is one of the primary languages that I work with every single day, and I’m thankful to have started studying it with our professors. In the future I’d like to continue growing international tech companies that are tackling meaningful problems.

Julianne Farrar '13Julianne Farrar ’13
Major: Asian Studies
Current position: Graduate Student, Middlebury Institute of International Studies; Center Manager at Education First Language Travel

After graduating from Bowdoin in 2013 with my degree in Asian Studies, I decided to take a year off to travel the country. In the fall of 2014, after a nice break from school, I began my MA in International Education Management at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (formerly the Monterey Institute of International Studies). The IEM degree is a one-year intensive program, and I am also taking Japanese language courses, which is a requirement of the programs here since MIIS used to be a language training school. The international culture here at MIIS is wonderful—if you have any interest in living in Monterey for a year or two and earning a graduate degree, I'd highly recommend checking out MIIS's program offerings! After graduation, I will continue in my role as Center Manager for Education First's Language Travel program here in Monterey. EF is a worldwide international education company, and its Language Travel program brings international students from Europe and Asia to the Monterey location each summer. This position will fulfill my practicum requirement for my degree, which I will officially earn in December of 2015. Looking back, I am grateful to have had the chance to be a part of the Asian Studies program at Bowdoin—without the experiences I had and knowledge I gained from the program, I would not be where I am today! I credit my professors with helping me find my career path and my passion for international education, and I can't wait to see where the future takes me.

Nell Mei '10Nell Mei '10
Major: Asian Studies and Economics
Current position: Investment Professional, Highbridge Principal Strategies

After graduating as a double major in Asian Studies and Economics, I moved to New York to work in Capital Markets Origination at Citigroup, where I structured and underwrote credit in the US and international markets. A few years after Citi, I joined Highbridge Principal Strategies, making mezzanine debt and private equity investments in companies of various industries. While I haven’t had a chance to use Japanese extensively, I did get to occasionally work with Japanese banks, where my knowledge of Japanese language and business culture from Bowdoin came in handy. I’ve always wanted to move back to Japan one day and live in Kyoto for some time, and I look forward to picking up the language there again.