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KCJS alumni have entered a multitude of fields and many have ventured across the globe after completing their undergraduate and, in many cases, graduate or professional studies. Below we list a sampling of the academic and professional positions they now hold, as well as an interview video with one of the alumni and testimonials. Alumni attest to the quality of the program and staff, the importance of the experience to their academic growth and sensitivity to other cultures, and about the friends, colleagues, and network of connections they continue to draw upon later in life.

imageKCJS1 in front of Stanford Japan Center (1989)

Sampling of current occupations, companies and professional fields

Arts and film


  • President and Representative Director, ADM Far East Ltd.
  • Senior Financial Analyst, Traffic, Amazon Japan
  • President and CEO, Asia Investment Partners
  • Vice President of Sales, Auberge Resorts
  • Business Development, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)
  • President, Nippon MacDermid Co., Ltd.
  • Finance Director, Burberry
  • Senior Vice President, Capitol International
  • Assistant Vice President, Citigroup
  • Analyst, Goldman Sachs Japan
  • Trainer/Facilitator, Global Leadership Development Training
  • Global Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Google, Inc.
  • Senior Associate, JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. Ltd.
  • Founder, Kalzumeus Software
  • Sales/Support Engineer, Media 6 Degrees, LLC
  • CEO and Founder, online education company (after working as a Learning Designer for Google)
  • Managing Director, PriceHorne, LLC
  • Owner, Babycastles/Silent Barn/Loud Objects
  • Director, Renewable Energy Strategy, Duke
  • Energy Corporation Enterprise systems analyst, Teach for America

Non-profit or non-governmental organizations and related work

  • Managing Editor, Science Progress, Center for American Progress
  • Staff of the Planning Division, The Tono City Disaster Relief Network
  • Pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Social worker (MSW)

Government and other national service

  • Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
  • Judge Advocate (CPT), US Army JAG Corps

Higher education

  • Professor, University of Connecticut
  • Associate Professor, Brown University
  • Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
  • Assistant Professor, Haverford College
  • Director of Operations, Catholic Student Center, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Faculty research assistant in linguistics, University of Maryland

Secondary education

  • Japanese teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland
  • Japanese teacher, Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, California
  • Assistant Language Teacher, JET Program
  • English teacher, South Korea
imageAt the KCJS 20th anniversary celebration


  • Freelance Japanese translator/interpreter
  • Freelance Japanese to English translator

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KCJS Alumna Interview with Helen Rolfe (KCJS26 Fall (2014))


Helen Rolfe (KCJS26 Fall (2014)) speaks about her Community Involvement Project at a local ballet studio. The experience was so successful for both Helen and the studio that she was invited to do an internship with them for Summer 2015.

To watch the video posted on the KCJS Facebook page, please click on the image. A new window will open.


“I can’t say that KCJS was directly tied to my current work (yet- someday I hope to maybe move to a Japanese office), but it was still an amazing time. KCJS inspired me to look into taking a job in Japan. In fact some of the other KCJS students were my biggest supporters in this process, exchanging job listings and meeting up at Career Forums and such. And some of the Japanese university students I met while in Kyoto were my biggest sources of advice. As it happens, the NYC Google thing just worked out faster, and was too good to turn down, but that’s not the end of my interest in Japan at all. I think my experience at KCJS will be invaluable if/when I decide to try again.” – KCJS 25 (2013-2014)

“My time at KCJS deepened my interest in Japanese society and my CIP teaching English at local junior high schools was my introduction to the education world. Currently, I teach English at a private English conversation school in Japan and I previously taught English in public schools through the JET program. In the near future, I plan to pursue studies in international education through graduate work. Ideally, I hope to use the language abilities / cultural fluency gained through KCJS to work toward developing a dialogue around education between Japan and the U.S. through non-profit work or some other arrangement.” – KCJS 22 (2010-2011)

“I have just started my career exploration. After learning about Japan through KCJS, I learned a lot more about the company culture of Japan, and how I should adjust my behavior to fit better in the culture.” – KCJS 26 (2014-2015)

“KCJS gave me the big boost in language skills I wanted and needed to advance in my education and career, and helped me to express myself better in Japanese. After graduating with a BA in Asian Studies, I went to teach English as an ALT at elementary schools in Hiroshima Prefecture and loved it, and now I am in a master’s program at NYU, where I will get dual certification to teach ESL and foreign language (Japanese). I just passed the JLPT N1, and I’m currently taking a challenging 5th-year Japanese course at Columbia that will count toward my MA.” – KCJS 23 (2011-2012)

“KCJS allowed me to explore what it would be like to live in another country. Not only did I get to practice my Japanese language skills, but I enjoyed being in a foreign country and learning about a different way of life. Without my positive experience with KCJS, I probably would not have considered applying to the JET Program to work and live in Japan. I am now very happy to be teaching in Japan and the transition to life here was easier with my previous study abroad experience.” – KCJS 24 (2012-2013)

“KCJS was the defining experience of my college career. I had always wanted to go into a Japanese-related field when I graduated college. Through my time at KCJS, I was able to learn Japanese at an intense, high-level pace which advanced my skills, helping me to be confident enough to take the JLPT N2 the December I returned to the States. I was also able to pursue my cultural interests (such as the koto) which was essential to my honors thesis during my senior year of college. As a Japanese teacher, I share the sum of all of my experiences with my students, the majority of them from KCJS. I’m able to encourage them to think about Japanese and studying world languages beyond high school, and what it can mean for them in the future. I would love to hear someday that one of my students decided to study abroad at KCJS.” – KCJS 25 (2013-2014)

“As of now it hasn’t affected it materially, though my time there was quite precious. It has often come up in job interviews, and the rigors of the program are appreciated by employers.” – KCJS 24 (2012-2013)

“Although I have yet to pursue anything Japan-related as a career, I keep the option open as I can unquestionably name my time at KCJS to be amongst the most important, formative, and best periods of my life thus far. Thanks to the community and education provided me, I feel I have left a piece of myself in Japan that I feel called to gather in the future. Ultimately, I’d like to somehow make films in Japan – how exactly remains unclear, but I’m currently working under a filmmaker who produced a Japanese-American co-production, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a major incentive to my application.” – KCJS 25 (2013-2014)

“At KCJS I gained the essential language skills, cultural understanding, and critical network connections (thanks Shore-san!) that enabled me to kick start my career in Japan, which is now 16 years and counting.” – KCJS 06 (1994-1995)

“My time at KCJS10 greatly affected both my professional and personal life. I am still friends with many of the members of my class, who I regularly communicate with for both work and pleasure reasons. I currently work as a freelance Japanese translator and interpreter. KCJS was my first time in Japan after having studied Japanese for several years, and it is where I fell in love with Japanese culture. Thanks to all the wonderful sensei, it also instilled a passion for the Japanese language that remains with me to this day.” – KCJS 10 (1998-1999)

“Honestly, it hasn’t really affected my current occupation or career, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not extremely grateful for the experience. I often refer to my year on KCJS 13 as the best year of my life. Many good ones followed it, so that’s saying a lot!” – KCJS 13 (2001-2002)

“I do not think I imagined myself working for a young Japanese NPO when I first came to Kyoto in 2006, but I know that KCJS was an extremely important part of the unexpected path that has led me here.” – KCJS 18 (2006-2007)

“It made me love Japan and more importantly love exploring other countries and languages and cultures. The program was great. The staff was dedicated and very skilled. I learned a lot and soon I plan on returning to Japan or Japanese studies in some capacity largely because of my experience in Kyoto.” – KCJS 20 (2008-2009)

“My first job in Tokyo as a liaison between the Japan office and overseas clients was supported by my experience studying language and Japanese culture/management at KCJS. Twenty-some years later, that cross-cultural sensitivity continues to be important in my work facilitating leadership development programs for international professionals.” – KCJS 01 (1989-1990)

“My enrollment in KCJS and homestay in Kyoto was a life changing experience. It served as the inspiration for a professional career focused on the Japanese financial markets and my relocation to Tokyo. I am proud that I recently fulfilled my KCJS promise to pass JLPT Level I.” – KCJS 11 (1999-2000)

“KCJS helped equip me with linguistic and academic skills that I am now able to pass on to my students and provided a network of friends and colleagues who I still see frequently.” – KCJS 06 (1994-1995)

“I first explored the possibility of joining the Foreign Service while living in Japan and studying at KCJS. Then director Terry MacDougal put me on the right path towards entering, and my first assignment after becoming an FSO was to Tokyo.” – KCJS 07 (1995-1996)

“KCJS was by far the best year of my life. The professors and administration were incredible, the students awesome, and Japan―well, how can you not adore it? Though I ended up taking a job that wasn’t related to Japan right after college (I worked at Google as a Learning Designer), because of my KCJS experience, I was able to travel to Japan for work and was invited to head the training office there. In the next couple of months, I’ll be giving a lecture at the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference in Yokohama. I am now creating a startup focused on making online education fantastic. Hopefully, I’ll be able to once again find a way to tie it to my love of Japan and visit the KCJS center once more.” – KCJS 15 (2003-2004)

“The KCJS experience made me a more attractive candidate for the JET program, which I did upon graduation. And, of course, the Japanese language skills and cultural knowledge I gained at KCJS helped prepare me for a career as a Japanese to English translator, where I specialize in translating finance/business documents and video games.” – KCJS 18 (2006-2007)

“After attending KCJS I was pretty sure that I wanted to make Japan the focus of my career, so I applied to the JET program when graduating, with the eventual intention of getting a job as a project manager in a Japan-facing role at a software company. (I had my eyes on the Japanese version of Excel at Microsoft, actually.)
JET brought me to Ogaki, Gifu, Japan in 2004, I worked as a Coordinator of International Relations for 3 years at the local technology incubator, fell wildly in love with this town, and decided to stay a little while longer. After that, I worked as an engineer for three years at a particular megacorp in the Nagoya area, decided that the salaryman lifestyle was not for me, and founded my own software company in Ogaki. I now run it full-time.
Not quite related to my career but certainly the most important thing that ever happened to me: in the course of the above I met the woman of my dreams, and we’re getting married in two weeks.” [June 2012] – KCJS 14 (2002-2003)

“KCJS was one of the very best experiences of my life ― not only of my educational experiences, but of all experiences combined.
I came to the program from outside of the consortium because I wanted a truly immersive experience that didn’t focus on “how to get credits for classes that you would’ve taken at your university anyway, but with less work”. (As you probably already know, many study abroad programs seem to be about work-reduction for at least 1/2 of its participants.) I did a lot of research in advance and found KCJS to be the perfect blend of what I was looking for: serious study combined with serious fun and lots of exposure to the local community; really fantastic people; located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; with small class sizes and close faculty interactions… I truly lucked out in what I found here. Following the program, I did a summer internship in Sony’s global marketing group in Tokyo (position found via KCJS!), and continued to pursue international business at my home university thereafter. My experiences & exposure to other Japan-related topics while in Kyoto helped spur my decision to pursue a master’s in Foreign Service at my home university ― which I then combined with my original studies in business to apply in the world of management consulting. What a tremendous benefit having lived in another country for a full year ended up being!
After spending nearly a decade in consulting, I’m now pursuing a PhD in Management & Organizational Behavior, focusing primarily on organizational culture & leadership. My research has been *strongly* informed by the experiences I gained while at KCJS, and thereafter as a result, and I am so very grateful to the people who made my year there so wonderful. I was fortunate to spend several days in Kyoto in Fall of last year (2011) and visited the (new-to-me) campus. Much to my surprise, both my Japanese language teacher (Yamaoka-sensei) and the supremely awesome Shore-san are still there. What a blast! They are still as awesome as I remember them both.
I’ll be on the academic job market in a year or two. My year in Japan with KCJS has made it possible for me to seriously consider positions at Japanese universities ― and this makes a huge difference for my prospects (as did my KCJS-enabled experiences prior). Aside from that small near-term anecdote, I really can’t put into words how fortunate and grateful I am for having stumbled upon this gem of a program. And it’s truly a gem. Thank you, KCJS!” – KCJS 08 (1996-1997)

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Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement

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Columbia University
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Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies 京都アメリカ大学コンソーシアム

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Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8580 JAPAN

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