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Alumni Voices

Ruth Anne Taylor, Dual B.A. (2016-2020) Spanish and East Asian Studies: Korean, now works for EPIK- English Program in South Korea

After graduating from KU, I applied to become an English teacher through EPIK (English Program in Korea), a program that gives native English speakers an opportunity to teach in the Korean public school system. I was accepted, and, in August 2021, started teaching 3rd- 6th grade English at three different elementary schools located in Chungnam province.

After studying in EALC at KU, I knew with 100% certainty that I wanted to live and work in Korea. Through the Korean track in EALC, I not only learned how to speak and write in Korean from amazing and caring professors, but I also was able to study in Seoul for a semester and experience life in a culture I had been learning about for three years.

Having a background in Korean language study has not only greatly enhanced my teaching instruction ability, but also my ability to connect and empathize with my students. When I am not teaching English, my students often come to my classroom to just talk. We can share stories, talk about our weekends, and understand each other’s personalities on a deeper level. Additionally, having an understanding of Korean culture and Korean language has allowed me to create bonds with my coworkers. I go to hoesiks (company dinners), participate in local festivals and events, and even play on a volleyball team. Studying in EALC has given me the foundation to form personal connections with the people in my life today, and for that I am very grateful.

Ruth teaching a class

Isaac Jambor, Dual B.A. (2021) in Math and East Asian Languages & Culture: Chinese, now works for Creative Planning in Overland Park 

When I was 18 years old, I decided that I would be studying East Asian languages and cultures for the rest of my life upon returning home from a year abroad in Deyang, Sichuan, China. Placing heavy focus on the Chinese language portion of the EALC curriculum at KU myself, the faculty taught me how to courteously communicate with Chinese people using Mandarin and cultural understanding, a skill that has opened doors to many opportunities in different organizations’ international offices. The growth of East Asia is rapid, and organizations in both the private and public sectors are now investing heavily in personnel with skills that KU’s EALC department provides. 

Since graduation, I have been hired by the fiduciary wealth-planning firm Creative Planning in Overland Park as a planning associate due to the firm’s search for Mandarin-speaking employees. After training and practice, I will be working with the team that focuses on planning for Chinese clients, many of whom are investors. Thus, the curriculum provided by EALC has opened a direct path to becoming a senior international wealth advisor, working in-person with highly affluent Chinese clients. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed with excitement upon receiving the call post-interview. 

Moreover, the e-mail presenting this opportunity was sent to me by my professors. The company had contacted the EALC faculty in search of candidates, and the opportunity was promptly forwarded to graduates. Not only did my major open a door towards a compelling goal, the EALC faculty drew my eyes straight to it. 

If a student at the University of Kansas is interested in or inspired by the languages and/or cultures of East Asia, then the curricula provided by the University of Kansas’ East Asian Languages and Cultures department are fantastic to follow. Not only will the faculty guide a student in building a strong foundation in both knowledge and future career skills—they may also guide you directly to your dream. 


Emily Bowden, M.A. (2015) in Chinese Language and Literature. 

Emily Bowden graduated with an MA in Chinese Language and Literature in 2015. For the last six years, she has been working as an analyst for the Navy, using her background in East Asian Studies to produce reports on current affairs to advise senior defense leadership and policymakers. Most recently, she has worked at Defense Intelligence Agency as a collections manager, applying the research and analytical skills learned while at KU to develop data-driven strategies and assessments for information collection problem sets around the world. After her service in the Navy, she plans to return to the world of literature and apply for an MFA in creative writing.

Austin Schroeder, B.A. (2014) in Supply Chain Management and Minor in East Asian Languages & Culture: Chinese, now works as Strategic Supply Chain Manager at GARMIN Ltd. 

I graduated from KU in 2014 with a minor in EALC and a major in Supply Chain Management. I really enjoyed my time in the EALC program as it was something not a lot of other student were pursuing. However, it was during my college years of looking for internships that I knew my EALC experience would come be useful in my career. One of the main talking points recruiters wanted to discuss with me was my experience and knowledge from the EALC program. Since graduating I have utilized the language skills to gain trust and build relationship with my suppliers and located throughout Taiwan and China. It has truly been one of the best skills I learned while in my time at KU.

Katrina Khanta, Dual B.A. (2017) in Global & International Studies and East Asian Languages & Culture: Chinese

Katrina Khanta found immense value in studying Chinese during her undergraduate studies at KU. By the end of her freshman year, Katrina was chosen for an intensive, immersion Chinese summer language program, hosted by Stanford & Peking University. Additionally, Katrina won a $5000 Scholarship from the Freeman Foundation to intern abroad at a non-profit organization in Thailand to support marginalized societies in combination to combating human trafficking. Her knowledge of both Thai & Chinese were critical in communicating effectively and providing aid to a wider population. Katrina’s senior capstone incorporated elements from both her EALC & GIST studies in her research on the ties between sex trafficking and the tourism industry in Southeast Asia.

After graduating from KU, she began working as grant writer for a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., focusing on human trafficking prevention. Katrina later transitioned into the field of information security and will soon graduate with her Master of Science in both Cybersecurity & Information Technology. Katrina’s successful STEM career as a Cyber Incident Response Analyst can not only be credited to her own ambition and dedication, but to the amazing and supportive faculty who are passionate in their endeavors to broaden students’ horizons to the world around them.

Evan McCormick, M.A. in Chinese Literature and M.S. in Language Pedagogy

Evan McCormick teaches high school and college level Chinese language and a college elective in Korean at Bard Early College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently serving as Chair of the Chinese Program at campuses across the Bard Early College network 2020-2021. He lived and studied in Changchun in Northeast China for over 3 years (2000-2001; 2004-2006) and later completed his MA in Chinese literature at the EALC at KU (2014) and MS in Language Pedagogy in the KU School of Education (2012). Through generous FLAS funding he was able to study 3 academic years of Korean language both on campus at KU and a summer program in South Korea.





Picture Credit: Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Emerson James, B.A. in East Asian Languages and Culture: Korean and B.S.B. in Finance

I originally came to KU to study medicine before a joke in a class led to me flying across the ocean to spend a year in Seoul, Korea. Fast forward three years and I have attended three separate Korean universities, worked for the premier magazine publisher in Korea, am currently in China studying Chinese at a school for Korean students and have a great job lined up for when I return to the USA this summer. I say this so that I can also say that none of it would have been possible had it not been for the great faculty and resources available to students in the EALC department.

Speaking to future students, make sure to take advantage of everything the department has to offer - great teachers, great students, scholarships, study abroad and more. No one is going to just hand you opportunities, but there is an overwhelming amount of support for those students working hard to create their own. Make sure you are the students taking advantage of that support by developing relationships with professors, studying that which interests you and not giving up when everything seems too difficult. Your success will be the result of a team effort, and KU’s EALC department is more than willing to help you succeed as long as you are working hard as hard as they are.

Tito Huynh, EALC B.A., Korean, 2013

"Taking Korean language and culture class at KU is actually how I learned about being an ESL teacher in Korea. My studies at KU help in many aspects in my career. My studies have helped me convey lessons to my students easily and to interact with my coworkers and bosses in an appropriate manner. Only a few students who excel at English so the use of Korean is often needed in the rural area. A piece of advice to current students is to put your full effort into your studies. You never know when the knowledge you have access to now will be useful to you in the future."

Sarah Bregman, EALC B.A., Korean with Honors, 2013  

"Studying Korean at KU provided me with many opportunities for academic and personal growth. The EALC department, as well as affiliated faculty, provided continual support and encouragement, providing a firm foundation for my aspirations to pursue graduate study. As a non-traditional student, I completed three undergraduate research projects, including an honors thesis, presented at numerous undergraduate symposia and conferences, and was fortunate to receive funding to support my travel and studies. I graduated from Harvard's Regional Studies, East Asia master's program in May 2016 and am currently pursuing my second master's degree in anthropology at Seoul National University as a Korean Government Scholar. Currently, I am conducting comparative research in Seoul and Hanoi that deals with low-fertility and women's work. I will be working in Hanoi at Vietnam National Institute for Culture and Arts (VICAS) as a visiting researcher beginning April 2018 and expect to submit my thesis and complete my program at SNU in 2019. I hope my story will help inspire students in the department and give them some ideas about what is possible after graduation."

Joseph Dennison, EALC B.A., Chinese, 2011

"I came to college to learn Chinese, and -- ask anyone who is even slightly familiar with it -- and they will tell you it doesn't come from innate ability or fancy teaching methods; it comes from hard work and self-discipline.  If it wasn't for Deborah Peterson [instructor of Intermediate Chinese]  I would have never become the student I am today; I would not be in Beijing studying at Beijing University."

Bryce Clarke, BA in EALC (Japanese) 2010

"I graduated from Sophia University's Graduate Program in Global Studies in 2012 with an MA in Japanese Studies. Since then I have worked for the past 3 years at Fujifilm where I translated quality control documents, manuals, and reports both into English and into Japanese and interpreted at monthly meetings (via conference call) with Europe and the US as well as interpreted during printer technician training sessions.  I will be quitting at the end of September 2016 to pursue a freelance writing/translation/interpretation career. I have been able to find a range of work as a freelance translator and writer. I work for several different websites where I translate comic books and news articles and just about anything you can think of.  I  recently started working as a writer for a travel magazine where I will be introducing people to what to look out for/do while they are in Japan. I wrote, co-edited, and co-produced a documentary film titled Garage Rockin' Craze that will premier in Tokyo in January. It will be distributed nationwide and will get a DVD release. The trailer can be found here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FNukfLBvALc"

Jay Ellis, EALC B.A., Japanese, 2010

"After graduating with a degree in East Asian Languages & Cultures, a degree in Journalism, and a Master's degree in Social Work Administration, I am now working in healthcare administration. I am the Director of the Sleep Disorder's Center at Harrison Medical Center and Practice Administrator at Kitsap Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine in the greater Seattle metro area. With so many Asian cultures converging on the Pacific Northwest, I often am able to utilize my knowledge of Asian history, art, and literature to connect with so many people every day. Still today, I look back at my four years at KU in EALC department with fondness, joy and great memories."

Magdalena Lam, EALC B.A., Japanese, 2010

"I am studying Occupational Therapy at KU Med now. Having majored in Japanese language & culture really helps me to appreciate and see the beauty in foreign cultures more. Being in the healthcare field, I think this is important. At KU Med, we have had a few assignments and lectures about cultural diversities. In OT school, we have always been learning how to be client-centered. As a therapist, it is important to develop intervention plans that are compatible to clients' values and cultural background."

Dave Cornelius, EALC B.A., Japanese, 2009

"I’m working for ForTrade International in Lawrence, a company provides US procurement services for Japanese, Singaporean and other foreign customers.  My degree is incredibly pertinent to my everyday work.  Employers who work with Japanese customers recognize the very deep divide between American and Japanese business customs and seek out employees who have a cultural sensitivity towards the Japanese, because those employees will better understand how to accommodate the customer's needs and will tend to be more patient with the idiosyncrasies of Japanese business culture."

Brian Devine, EALC B.A., Korean, 2005

"After graduating, I moved to Seoul Korea and began working as an English Teacher. Living in the society that I studied throughout my time at KU and putting my language training to use, my undergraduate EALC education has been of great importance to me for sure. During my second year of teaching in Korea I continued to teach English and also took a position training other teachers how to connect with their students and adapt to their lives living in Korean society. After three years in Seoul, I have decided to take some time for myself to learn more about Asia by traveling through it. I have backpacked through China, Japan, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and I am on my way to India and Nepal in the coming months. Before I set out on this epic journey, I submitted applications to graduate programs at USC, Seattle University and University of Washington. I hope to return to America to begin a Master's program in Urban Education this Fall with intent to eventually promote cultural awareness in public schools."

Diana Buie, EALC B.A., Chinese, 2005

"I graduated in '05 with a BA in East Asian Language and Culture with an emphasis on Chinese. I taught English and continued to study Chinese in Shenzhen, China, for a year, did some traveling around Europe, and returned to China to find work in Beijing. I worked for Ludus Tours as a translator and tour guide during the 2008 Olympics and the months leading up to it. I am now back at the KU School of Education getting my license to teach Chinese."

Tarah Herrington, EALC B.A., Japanese, 2005

"During my senior year, I applied to the JET program to teach English in Japan and am proud to say I was accepted. I taught English for one year in Tomioka-machi, Gunma-ken. I then came home and did sales for a small start up company in Lawrence called "Thinkgeo". It is a GPS mapping and tracking company. I then decided I was ready to try a new adventure and move to a city in the US which happened to be Boston. I am now a "Tour Consultant" for EF Smithsonian Student Travel. I love giving students the opportunity to travel and possibly change their life forever!"

James Miller, ECON/EALC B.A. with Honors, Japanese, 1995

"I have specialized in technology and law, with experience and skills in U.S.-Japan public policy and business. I am now an Attorney Advisor in the Office of Engineering and Technology at the Federal Communications Commission focusing on wireless and internet regulatory matters. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Law of American University, Washington College of Law, 2004-2006 Mansfield Fellow, and past JET Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) Rotary Youth Exchange Fellow. I publish and do public speaking in Japanese and English for bureaucrats, "bengoshi" lawyers, and engineers alike on topics of technology, law, and international relations.

My work at the FCC focuses on with the regulation of spectrum, Internet policy, and emerging technologies. I have rulemaking experience in spectrum matters related to non-geostationary orbit fixed satellite service, terrestrial fixed and mobile services, software-defined and cognitive radio, and part 15 device certification, and intentional and unintentional radiators. I was a member of the FCC's Spectrum Policy Task Force, and has a strong legal background in copyright law and continues research in the area. As a Mansfield Fellow, I explored Japanese regulatory policies for the information society, particularly focusing on legal and regulatory reforms and spectrum policy, in the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Radio Policy Bureau (MIC), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Office of Senior-Vice Minister Yoshitaka SAKURADA, and the Tokyo District and High Court's Administrative Litigation and Intellectual Property Sections. I a graduated cum laude from the Washington College of Law, American University . I am bilingual in English and Japanese and live in Alexandria, VA with my wife and two children."

Chip Miller, M.A. in East Asian Studies, Chinese, 1986

Chip earned a PhD in marketing at the University of Washington, Seattle, 1990, and is now an international marketing professor at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.




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