William & Mary’s Japanese Studies Program proudly honored the first cohort of students in its new major, as well as other students who have exhibited exceptional academic excellence, during a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16. The students celebrated their milestones with peers, William & Mary faculty, and 35 guests, including included family and friends. Mr. Yosuke Sato, the First Secretary, Public Affairs Section, of the Embassy of Japan in the United States, served as the guest speaker for the hour-long program. Mr. Sato implored students not to rush through life but to remain steadfast as they pursue success. He drew inspiration from the legendary Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Best known for Great Wave, Hokusai spoke of his devotion to creating since childhood and proclaimed that he would continue to do so even if he lived well past 100 years old.
Dr. Tomoyuki Sasaki, the Japanese Studies Program Director and Associate Professor of Japanese Studies, also enjoyed the distinct honor of addressing the graduating class. He commended them for their dedication to developing extreme competency in the language and deeply insightful knowledge of the culture. He also assured the students that their mastery of the subject matter and appreciation for the complex lessons learned will greatly benefit them—no matter the career path they choose. The graduates— Margot Baden, Allison Bolton, Sarah Wilkowske, and Julia Wright—offered commentary about their experiences in the program followed by remarks from Japanese Studies faculty Dr. Michael Cronin, Tomoko Kato, Aiko Kitamura, and Rina Okada.
The Japanese Studies Program also recognized students’ academic excellence during the ceremony. Honorees included Book Award recipient and honor student Margot Baden and honor students Allison Bolton and Julia Wright. Kinyo Awards were given to freshman Grace Liscomb, sophomore Gokul Achayaraj, junior Jackson Lawson, and senior Julia Wright. We extend heartfelt congratulations to our esteemed graduates and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.