Alumni

Alumni Profiles

East Asian Languages & Cultures 2016 Prize Winners

Distinction in Chinese

Rona Vaselaar

This year’s award for Distinction in Chinese goes to Rona Vaselaar. Rona earned a 3.82 GPA with a 4.0 in her Chinese major. She took First Year Chinese at Notre Dame and then studied at the Duke Summer Chinese Program in Beijing in 2013. She returned to China and studied at Peking University for Spring 2015 and is now finishing the most advanced level course, “Readings: Modern Chinese Classics.” During her senior year, she worked with her advisor on her Honors thesis on Gender Studies and Homosexuality in China, and has already published several papers. Rona has served as the President of the Chinese Language and Culture Club since 2013. She built a network between international students from China and Chinese language students at Notre Dame. Rona will pursue her M.A. in International Studies at John Hopkins Nanjing Center starting Fall 2016.

 

Distinction in Japanese

Arlia Delphonse

This year’s award for the Distinction in Japanese Award goes to Arlia Delphonse. Arlia is graduating with a 3.725 grade average overall and a 3.8 grade average in her Japanese major. After completing First Year Japanese here, Arlia studied Japanese for two months during the summer of 2014 at the Princeton in Ishikawa Program. She continued her Japanese studies at Nanzan University as an exchange student for the 2014-2015 academic year. During this academic year, Arlia has been serving as one of the Japanese peer tutors at CSLC. In addition, Arlia has pursued a minor in Gender Studies along with First Year Korean and courses in French.

 

Distinction in Korean

Zachary Horne

This year’s award for Distinction in Korean goes to Zachary Horne. As a minor in Korean , Zachary has a 4.0 GPA and his overall GPA is a 3.785, including his major in Finance in the Mendoza School of Business. In the summer of 2015, he took  Korean language and culture courses at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea as a Summer Language Abroad Grant recipient.  Zachary has completed 3 years of Korean language courses at Notre Dame, along with courses in Korean history and culture and elementary Japanese. Zachary has been very active in the Korean Student Association (KSA) at Notre Dame and helped to promote Korean culture in such activities as Korean Thanksgiving Day and Korean New Year’s Day.

 

Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies

Zachary Sturm

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is the highest honor conferred by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures annually upon a graduating senior whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia. This year’s award goes to Zachary Sturm. Zachary earned overall grade point average of 3.83 with a 4.0 in both his Chinese major and Peace Studies supplementary major. Zach won the second-place award in the Midwest Chinese Speech Contest in 2014 and 2015, beating most of the contestants from more than 15 other colleges. He also taught English at Beijing City School for the Blind in Fall 2014, and conversational English to adult immigrants from China at the Michiana Chinese Christian Church, and English to teenagers and college students in Cambodia through Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Summer 2015.

 

East Asian Languages & Cultures 2014 Prize Winners

Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies 2014

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is given annually to the student whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia.

Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies

Deanna Kolberg 

Deanna Kolberg

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is the highest honor conferred by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures annually upon a graduating senior whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia. This year’s award goes to Deanna Kolberg, who will graduate with Honors in Political Science and a Major in Chinese. Deanna has done independent research in Ireland, Scotland, China, Vietnam, and India on topics that inform a larger inquiry into the way in which China looks from the outside. She has been the recipient of numerous undergraduate research and study abroad awards from the Kellogg and Nanovic institutes, and the Washington Program, the variety of which conveys the breadth of her interests and the wider recognition of her remarkable merit. She is now among the very few finalists at Notre Dame for the 2014 Fulbright competition, a place earned by means of her proposal to teach in high schools in South Korea (she is currently studying Korean—her third Asian language). 


Distinction in Chinese

Eric Brumleve

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This year’s Award for Distinction in Chinese goes to Eric Brumleve. Eric has been on the dean’s list during each of his semesters at Notre Dame and has a 4.0 GPA in both his finance and Chinese majors. He has been an enthusiastic participant in all the extracurricular activities organized by our Chinese Language Program. Last Fall, he was on the team of three students from our Advanced Chinese class who, on short notice, participated in the Chinese Speech Contest for Business Students at BYU and won the third-place award, beating teams such as those from Washington University in St. Louis and Indiana University, Bloomington. Eric also studied at Peking University for a semester, which enhanced his interest in studying Chinese society and culture. 

Margaret Pickard

Distinction in Japanese

Margaret Pickard

This year’s award for Distinction in Japanese goes to Margaret Pickard. Margaret is graduating with a Major in Japanese and a Major in Sociology with Honors. She spent the Spring 2013 semester at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, where, in addition to her intensive language courses, she also studied the traditional Japanese arts of calligraphy and tea ceremony. During this past academic year, she served as co-President of the Japan Club and worked as a peer-tutor at Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Language and Culture, where she helped 1st and 2nd year Japanese students. She also worked as a student assistant for the iSAWT program through Notre Dame International in August 2012, spending two weeks with  six Japanese students from Keio University on Notre Dame campus. 

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Distinction in Korean

Michelle Paek

This year’s award for Distinction in Korean goes to Michelle Paek. Michelle is graduating with a Major in Biological Sciences and a Minor in Korean. In Summer 2011, Michelle received a grant to study at Sogang University where she took the Korean Studies Seminar about Politics and Korean War Narratives and  Third Year Korean language. Michelle has also been very active in the Asian American community at Notre Dame. This year she served as president of the Filipino American Student Organization and last year was secretary of the Japan Club.. Lastly, Michelle is an active member of the Asian American Association and has helped at events such as Taste of Asia and AAA’s annual Thanksgiving celebration. 


East Asian Languages & Cultures 2013 Prize Winners

Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies 2013

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is given annually to the student whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia.

Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies

Allison Wettstein


Distinction in Chinese

Anthony Abordo


Distinction in Japanese

Matthew Donley


Distinction in Korean

Daidreana Payton

East Asian Languages & Cultures 2012 Prize Winners

Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies 2012

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is given annually to the student whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia.

Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies

Emily O'Brien


Distinction in Chinese

Mariel Lee


Distinction in Japanese

Natalie Fang


Distinction in Korean

Kristy Frilling

East Asian Languages & Cultures 2011 Prize Winners

Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies 2011

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is given annually to the student whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia.

Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies

Paige Norris


Distinction in Chinese

Alyssa Ceretti


Distinction in Japanese

Emily O'Malley


Distinction in Korean

Minyoung Kim


East Asian Languages & Cultures 2010 Prize Winners

Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies 2010

The Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies is given annually to the student whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia.


Courtney Henderson

Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies

Courtney Henderson

Courtney was selected to receive the Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies.  This award is given annually to the student whose character and undergraduate work best exemplify the qualities of commitment, diligence, and imagination in the study of Asia and carries a monetary stipend.  The award will be presented at the East Asian Languages and Cultures Graduate Recognition Ceremony on Friday, May 14th, 4:30 pm in 102 DeBartolo.

In a competitive field of candidates, Courtney’s fine academic achievement, contributions to the Chinese Speech Contest, participation in study abroad, and exemplary summer service in Calcutta, India, distinguished her nomination.  East Asian Languages & Cultures is proud to recognize her superb accomplishments with the award and congratulates her on her success. Read a feature story on Courtney and the Liu Family Award.


Jerry Shields

Distinction in Chinese

Jerry Shields

Jerry was selected to receive the East Asian Languages and Cultures Award for Distinction in Chinese.  The award recognizes Jerry’s superb academic and service accomplishments in Chinese and carries a monetary stipend.  The award will be presented at the East Asian Languages & Cultures Graduate Recognition Ceremony on Friday, May 14th, 4:30 pm in 102 DeBartolo.

In a competitive field of candidates, Jerry’s strong academic achievement, important contributions to the Chinese Speech Contest, participation in study abroad at Princeton in Beijing, and exemplary service in the Chinese Culture Society, Asian Film Festival, Chinese Table, peer tutoring and Asian Allure distinguished his nomination.  East Asian Languages & Cultures is proud to acknowledge Jerry’s distinctive accomplishments with the award and congratulates him on his success.


Jeffrey Kraft

Distinction in Japanese

Jeffrey Kraft

Jeffrey was selected to receive the East Asian Languages and Cultures Award for Distinction in Japanese.  The award recognizes his academic and service accomplishments in Japanese and carries a monetary stipend.  The award will be presented to Jeffrey at the East Asian Languages and Cultures Graduate Recognition Ceremony on Friday, May 14th, 4:30 pm in 102 DeBartolo.

In a competitive field of candidates, Jeffrey’s strong academic achievement, experience in study abroad at Nanzan, and participation in Japanese language table, Asian related activities and events, and peer tutoring distinguished his nomination. East Asian Languages & Cultures is proud to acknowledge Jeffrey’s distinctive accomplishments with the award and congratulates him on his success.


Marisa Villano

Distinction in Korean

Marisa Villano

Marisa was selected to receive the East Asian Languages and Cultures Award for Distinction in Korean.  The award recognizes her superb academic and service accomplishments in Korean and carries a monetary stipend.  The award will be presented at the East Asian Languages & Cultures Graduate Recognition Ceremony on Friday, May 14th, 4:30 pm in 102 DeBartolo.

In a competitive field of candidates, Marisa’s strong academic achievement, exemplary contributions to the Asian American Association, Korean Student Association, and Asian Pacific Alumni Boar, and especially her superb work and leadership in co-producing and co-directing Asian Allure in Fall 2008 distinguished her nomination.  East Asian Languages & Cultures is proud to acknowledge Marisa’s distinctive accomplishments with the award and congratulate her on her success.


Class of 2009


Brandon Frost

Brandon Frost, Co-Winner of the Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies.

Brandon’s proclivity for effective leadership has been displayed in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, including but not limited to, the Asian American Association, Na Pua Kai’Ewalu (Hawai’i an Club), and the East Asian Languages and Cultures Student Advisory Committee. As further evidence of extraordinary leadership, Brandon was the first Japanese major in the Department to have written an honors thesis and the first undergraduate in the Department to have conducted a public forum focused on his own research.

Brandon has been a tireless advocate of East Asian studies at Notre Dame, and he has helped the EALC department in many ways. He was the coordinator of the Japanese language table in spring 2008, a task he undertook with the same seriousness and diligence as his course work. On his own initiative, Brandon has also ensured that information about the Japanese and Chinese majors is available in academic advising offices and that underclassmen and incoming freshmen are informed about both majors. He is a founding member of the department’s student advisory committee where one of his contributions was to design and organize the sale of sweatshirts which constituted both a fundraiser and an advertisement for the students in the department. Brandon has repeatedly volunteered to assist with ongoing cultural events (such as film nights) and has made an effort to attend every academic talk on Japan at the University. Brandon has served as a mentor to the underclassmen in EALC, where during fall 2008, in the hope of encouraging other students to apply for the summer study abroad program in Hakodate, he put together a sophisticated presentation about his own experiences on the program. Similarly, during spring 2009, in the hope of encouraging other students to emulate him in writing theses, he held a forum on his own research. Brandon was also on the student committee for the 2009 Asian Film Festival, where he took the lead in coordinating student publicity efforts and put in many hours behind the scenes helping the festival to run smoothly. He also introduced the film Hula Girls by giving the audience a short lesson in hula dance. Brandon also regularly performs hula dance with the Hawaii Club at Notre Dame and is an active member of the Japan Club and the Chinese Percussion Ensemble led by Prof Stephanie Ng. In all these extracurricular activities, Brandon is not only reliable and energetic, but also highly self-motivated; he is never content to simply follow orders, but always has new and original ideas to contribute to any enterprise.

Brandon simply does not look at the world the way most students do, for he is deeply passionate about the quest for wisdom, and it is this passion that accounts for his success. In his years of undergraduate study, Brandon has displayed catholic intellectual affinities by reading and writing voluminously on Japanese popular culture and film, Chinese religions, and the phenomenology of cults such as Falun gong. In these endeavors, Brandon has always focused on the sense of their respective contributions to the broader issues of public morality and the constitution of the state, bureaucracy, and civil service. His broad ranging language study has been rounded out by work in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai. During the spring 2009 semester, Brandon was the recipient of the “Kenneth H.S. Kwak Scholarship for Asian Studies.” This scholarship is awarded by the Asian Pacific Alumni of Notre Dame. After graduation Brandon will be studying for a Masters degree in Japanese at Indiana University, Bloomington.


Janet Han

Janet Han, Co-Winner of the Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies.

Janet Han stands as a most remarkable graduate: a student majoring in two disciplines EALC (Chinese) and Film Television and Theatre (Film Studies), with a near-perfect grade point average, who is chiefly responsible for the inauguration of our department’s Korean program. Beginning in her freshman year, Janet labored industriously to persuade the College of Arts and Letters to provide the resources to underwrite instruction of Korean language and culture, and thanks to her endeavor, the initial groundwork was laid in 2005, for a partnership that would culminate in fall 2008, with the inauguration of Korean studies at Notre Dame. In the interim between the program’s conception and its implementation, Janet beginning in fall 2006, took it upon herself to design and implement a weekly language class that was taught informally by Korean graduate students to students and staff with varied backgrounds in and knowledge of the Korean language. This class was so popular that it was continued by her fellow students during 2007-2008 when Janet, spent the year in intensive language study in Beijing.

Janet has also been actively engaged in extracurricular activities where she has served as assistant producer, stage manager, and board of directors of Asian Allure and as a member of the organization board of the Asian American Conference “In Focus.” She has served as senior advisor to the Asian American Association and the Korean Students Association and has played viola (first stand) for the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra.

Janet’s work in Asia and Asian studies extends far beyond the confines of her major in Chinese. She has lived and worked in India (the “Kalighat” Mother Theresa House in Calcutta), Mongolia (Don Bosco Youth Center in Ulaanbaatar), South Korea (Nobis Productions in Seoul) and Thailand (Habitat for Humanity in Lapsang). It is evident by her academic, personal, and pre-professional endeavors—local as well as global—that Janet Han is someone, who, as Professor Aaron Magnan-Park has observed, “wants to connect Asia with the United States and Asia with Asia.”


Distinction in Chinese:

Edith Félix

Edith Félix as winner of the Award for Excellence in Chinese Studies.

Edith Félix made the decision to major in Chinese relatively late in her academic career, but once that decision was made, she has worked ceaselessly and taken full advantage of the University’s study abroad programs (Shanghai for a semester and at Fu Jen University in Taipei, Taiwan during a summer), to enable herself to complete her major. As a major, Edith has done remarkably well in her language classes and has completed a whole series of content classes in Chinese literature and culture. In the words of Professor Sylvia Lin, “Edith serves as a great example of how one can succeed through hard work and determination.” As another indicator of her success, Edith has recently been accepted to three prestigious graduate programs in Chinese studies and has decided to go for a Masters of Pacific International Affairs with a Chinese regional focus at University of California, San Diego


Distinction in Japanese:

Drago Flores

Drago Flores as winner of the Award for Excellence in Japanese Studies.

As a Japanese major, Drago’s performance in the Japanese language classes and the content classes that contribute to his major has been very strong. He is a serious, conscientious, and motivated student, who, according to Professor Noriko Hanabusa, “dramatically improved his Japanese language proficiency after studying at Nanzan for Fall 2007.” The awards committee was especially impressed by Drago’s accomplishments as the current President of the Japan Club and by his contributions to the academic life of the department . Drago has been accepted to the prestigious summer program at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, after which he will move to South Korea to teach English.


McGrath Award winner

Gavin Payne

Gavin Payne, Economics, Chinese, and Italian

“An Analysis of the Economic and Social Costs of China’s Three Gorges Dam”

The construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric river dam, has been both heralded as a feat of engineering and condemned as a massive mistake. Gavin applied for UROP funding so he could travel to China and study firsthand the dam’s economic, environmental, and social impact.

 

Class of 2008


Clint Bergstrom

Clint Bergstrom, Class of '08 – Winner of the Liu Family Distinguished Award in Asian Studies.

Clint began his study of Chinese as a freshman seeking to fulfill his language requirement, but it wasn’t long until he discovered that he really enjoyed the language, and then he was hooked. One class led to another until Clint found himself spending a semester in 2006 at Peking University in Beijing and majoring in Chinese. Upon returning to campus, he continued taking a broad range of Asia-related courses and getting involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities that included the 2007 and 2008 Asian Film Festivals, the Lunar New Year Celebration, and the EALC Student Advisory Committee. This year’s selection committee, in granting the award to Clint, was particularly impressed by his strong academic performance, reflected in part, through a continually rising GPA and a broad array of Asia-related courses.

After graduation Clint will be working at a small printing and office supplies company in Taipei, Taiwan.


Ryan Daniels

Ryan Daniels, Class of '08 – Distinguished Student in Chinese Studies

Ryan began his career in Chinese at Notre Dame where he has taken a broad range of both language and Asia-related courses. He is one of the first students to take advantage of the Department’s most advanced language offering, “Language Across the Curriculum” which was offered by Professor Liangyan Ge as a part of his regular course “Heroism and Eroticism in Chinese Fiction.”

During his time at Notre Dame, Ryan bas been heavily involved with the Asian Film Festival in both 2007 and 2008; he served for a semester on the EALC Student Advisory committee; and he has been a regular participant in the Chinese Language Tables.

Particularly outstanding in Ryan’s dossier is the number of off campus opportunities of which he has availed himself during the summers. In 2006, he spent two weeks in China on a program "To Serve an Ancient Village in China:  Historical Preservation, Religious Life, and Teaching English,” under the directorship of Professor Jonathan Noble. During that same summer he also won a place in the Columbia University Summer Language Program in Beijing for which he earned 8 credits of Chinese. Then, during the summer of 2007, he was chosen as one of three students who participated in the first Notre Dame Summer Language Program at Fu Jen University in Taipei, Taiwan, for which he again received 8 additional credits of Chinese.

As he prepares to leave Notre Dame, Ryan is being celebrated as a featured student in the University’s forthcoming recruitment video for students interested in Asian Studies. Fall 2008 will see Ryan once again in People’s Republic, where he will begin graduate school in Chinese studies at the prestigious Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China.


John Cappa

John Cappa, Class of '08 – Distinguished student in Japanese Studies

John had his first experience with the Japanese language in Kimiko Suzuki’s First Year Japanese class during the same semester Lili Selden introduced him to Japanese film and literature in a freshman seminar.  Two years later, Noriko Hanabusa and Deborah Shamoon revitalized his interest in Japanese language and culture in Third Year Japanese and Introduction to Japanese Popular Culture, respectively. John became a Japanese major to improve his language skills and absorb as much knowledge about Japanese culture as possible.

For two years John was involved in producing Notre Dame’s Asian Film Festival.  Last year, as a member of the Student Committee, he assisted the faculty chairpersons in executing the Festival’s programming.  This year, as Student Co-Chair he was intimately involved in every step of the Festival, from picking films to contacting a guest speaker and directing the advertising campaign.  He also moderated a discussion along with other student committee members. In addition to his participation in the Asian Film Festival, John was also a frequent participant at the Japanese Conversation Table and met regularly with a Japanese conversation partner.

Next year John will be working in Japan as an English teaching assistant in the JET Program.  Afterwards, he plans to attend graduate school in Japanese Studies and work toward becoming a college professor.


Chad Lavimonière, Class of '08, Major: Japanese and English Honors

I took first year Japanese as a freshman to fulfill my language requirement, and then decided that I really enjoyed it. I made Japanese one of my majors mostly as an excuse to continue taking Japanese language classes.

Shiga-sensei’s year-long first-year Japanese class (EALJ 111 in Fall ’04 and EALJ 112 in Spring ‘05) really was the deciding factor for me.

I studied abroad in the Fall of 2006 at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, which greatly increased my fluency. I’ve also been tutoring a student who will be studying at Nanzan next semester, which has given me a different perspective on the teaching side of Japanese. Now, I plan to go to graduate school to study literature.

 

Class of 2007


Matthew Schultheis

Matthew Schultheis, Class of '07, Major: Chinese and Economics

"After taking some courses in high school that gave a brief introduction to Chinese history and politics, I became interested in learning more. I decided to give Chinese language a try in order to fulfill my university language requirement, and I haven’t stopped taking it since!

"Before I began my study abroad experience in Shanghai, two other students and I did a research project in Yunnan Province. This project, directed by Professor Noble, provided the opportunity to interact with some of China’s ethnic minorities. I learned at least two significant lessons from this experience. First, I learned the extent to which tourism influences the culture of local people. Second, with Professor Noble’s guidance, I learned about the challenges and triumphs of doing real research. "

 

Class of 2006


 

John Paul Lichon

John Paul Lichon, Class of 2006, Self-Designed Major in Asian Studies, Supplemental Major in Chinese

Current Position: Intern in Notre Dame Campus Ministry
Next Steps: ECHO Faith Formation Leadership Program

While studying Asian Studies and Chinese may not seem to have an important role in my current career choice as a campus minister, I feel strongly that my academic background has helped me considerably in my career and as a person.  I am currently working in the Office of Campus Ministry at the University of Notre Dame as an intern. I help to plan, implement, execute, and improve various religious programs and activities for the Notre Dame student body.  After my internship, I plan to continue working as a lay minister for the Church.

The professors in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (and other Asian Studies related professors) have not only provided me with a rigorous and comprehensive study of Asia, but they have also prepared me for the future in anything I choose to do. 

In my “Hong Kong Action Cinema” class with Professor Aaron Magnan-Park (FTT), we learned how to analyze an argument:  break down its structure, find its strengths and weaknesses, and then, most importantly, go beyond to formulate your own views.  This same formula can be used in business, administration, or even coaching sports. 

Also, in “Chinese Ways of Thought” with Professor Lionel Jensen, I learned that learning is meant to be interactive; that we all most take an active role in critically analyzing ideas while also being creative and imaginative in our studies.  Learning is not a passive intake of dates and events but an active and critical engagement of various ideas, and we must keep setting the bar higher and higher through contributing new, improved ideas.

Studying abroad in Beijing, China, challenged me to broaden my perspective past the small bubble that Notre Dame sometimes creates.  I met a variety of people from all over the world: China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Europe, etc., and I was able to interact with them on a day-to-day basis.  I was immersed in an entirely different culture, and that taught me a lot about myself, a lot about others, and a lot about the similarities and differences among various cultures.  Most of all, I was able to understand the Chinese people, history, and culture much better.

Throughout my studies at Notre Dame, I really took advantage of the opportunities available through the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.  Three times, I took one-on-one Directed Readings classes with a professor in order to study more fully topics of my own interest.  Although there weren’t specific classes offered, the professors in EALL were quick to offer their own time, direction, and help.

The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures showed me what true scholarship and academia is all about.  All my classes and professors went beyond my expectations, and they truly cared about each and every student.  Overall, I have recognized the need to be an active learner in all areas, and that we all can contribute new, imaginative, and innovative ideas – whether it be a new business model, an improved defensive scheme for a football team, or an editorial on the war in Iraq in your local newspaper.  I want to continue to push my limits, to continue to strive for excellence and creativity in every aspect of my life.


Tim O'Shaughnessy and friends

Tim O'Shaughnessy, Class of '06, Major: Chinese and Program of Liberal Studies

Tim, center in picture, who is from Wichita, Kansas, was drawn to the idea of taking on a challenging language that comes from one of the major cultures of the world and one which he thought might help him further himself both personally and professionally after graduation. He was also dedicated to the notion that Americans should take it upon themselves to become more aware of and interested in the world beyond their borders. At Notre Dame, Tim started out with a minor, but was inspired to go for the major by the professors in the program.  While an undergraduate, he also participated in two programs abroad during his junior year, which opened “huge doors” for him. Through Notre Dame, he attended Beijing University which is considered the top school in all of China.  Reflecting on this experience, Tim notes, “In doing business in China today it really helps to have a background with this university; no matter where I go in China these days from Heilongjiang province to Guangzhou everyone knows “BeiDa,” as they call it locally. My experience there also helped me get accepted into the exclusive IUP program at Qinghua University, which is regarded as the second best University in China and the top technical school. The program at Qinghua had the most stringent language requirements both to get in and to stay in. My experience and time there was invaluable in terms of achieving language fluency and also for gaining contacts and understanding the political and business world of Beijing.”

Tim further recalls: “After graduating from Notre Dame I did what most graduates do, I looked for a good job! I was intent on the idea of finding a job that would get me back to China. The opportunity eventually came in the form a small to medium size American company named Sentry International which manufactured, distributed, and repaired oil field equipment. I had previously had an opportunity to work in Argentina for an oil E&P company in the Patagonia region where I worked for several months on equipment almost identical to the equipment Sentry produced; so the focus behind the company intrigued me. Sentry was a company with 30 years history in brand existence but was now in an entirely new incarnation as it experienced rapid growth fueled in large part by growth in China. As a result Sentry was in serious need, as are many small to medium size enterprises these days, for people with an understanding of how to work in China, who can speak the language, and who will live there long term. It seemed a perfect fit for me and them as well. I joined Sentry in the fall of 06 starting in US for a quarter then moving to Shanghai China permanently on January 1st of 07.”

Tim is now the general manager for Sentry International’s Shanghai representation office.  His responsibilities include managing and growing the Shanghai office and its logistics and quality control team of nine people; overseeing the operations for a joint-venture gearbox factory in Luoyang, China with around 80 workers; and maintaining the key relationships with heads of our primary manufacturing partners across China. During the past year and a half as part of the expansion efforts and the search for new acquisitions or partners, Tim has had the tough, but extremely rewarding, task of traveling all over China to more than 25 different factories in seven different provinces, where no English is spoken at all.

His advice to people who may wish to study with the East Asian Languages and Cultures department at Notre Dame is simply “go for it.” Says Tim, “It would be a chance to study under some extremely intelligent people and also understand another part of the world, all the while gaining an invaluable and concrete skill. Chinese is one of the languages of tomorrow, and the ability to speak it has power. Whether it’s Chinese, Japanese, Arabic or something else studying a foreign language is a very good idea, and in the least studying foreign cultures approaches a necessity. Globalization does not translate into America alone and on top.  The world is growing and from many directions making perhaps one of the best positions anyone can be in for the coming future is with a foot in more than one world.  “Cultural arbitrage” as one might call it is an immensely important task for the future. It is also one of the best ways to enrich your life and make it more interesting and fulfilling. This for me is what the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures is all about.”