Meet Aya Isumi
Kobe, Japan, is half a world away from NC State University, but Aya Isumi found us and achieved her long-time goal to study in the United States. She is currently a Master’s student in the Human Development and Family Studies program, with a concentration in Family Life and Parent Education, and expects to graduate this May.
Aya had earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Sciences from Osaka University in March 2008. She had long been interested in learning more about parent-child relationships (especially attachment) and child maltreatment. Aya states that when she pursued her undergraduate major in clinical psychology, her “. . . real research interest was prevention, not therapeutic intervention; that is how to help parents build a secure and healthy relationship with their children and how to prevent child maltreatment.”
Knowing that she wanted to study in the U.S. and also knowing that Japanese colleges do not have the major she wanted, she searched for a U.S. program that would be a good fit for her interests. She came across an article about parenting education experiences by Dr. Karen DeBord, who later became Aya’s advisor in the Master’s program. Aya was further encouraged to find the program listed with National Parenting Education Network. So, with parental support, a scholarship from Japan, and very little English, Aya was accepted at NC State.
For Aya, the most fulfilling part of her graduate studies has been to follow her academic interests. She also was pleased to find that “ . . . many assignments in classes are practical, such as writing a grant proposal and developing materials for an agency associated to Family Life and Parent Education.” In addition to her classes, she also appreciates the opportunities to experience professional organizations’ conferences that her advisor is involved in, such as North Carolina Parenting Education Network and National Parenting Education Network.
She still feels that the language barrier “. . .makes it difficult for me to understand fully what I learn in classes, engage in class discussion, and communicate with professors and classmates.” But Aya has been successful in meeting each new challenge. She credits her success to those people who have encouraged and supported her throughout her graduate studies -- family and friends in both the U.S. and Japan, as well as her advisor and other faculty and colleagues.
And her success shows! Aya is currently doing her capstone project on child maltreatment prevention. As part of her project, she is working with NC Child Care Health and Safety Resource Center in order to expand her research interests.
Prior to her May graduation, she also hopes to pass the Certified Family Life Educators exam, as well as finding a job that will stretch what she has learned at NC State. According to Aya, “I will not be ready to go back to Japan until I get some experiences in the field of parenting education.”
Aya knows that being an international student can be tough, however. She encourages other international students to meet as many people as possible! Her experiences taught her to strike a balance between her class assignments, studying, and making new friends.
Her friends take center stage, too, when Aya is not studying. She enjoys cooking with them or just hanging out together As a special treat when finishing all her final exams, Aya also looks forward to shopping - and karaoke!
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