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UW-Eau Claire junior receives Freeman Award to study in Japan

March 21, 2013
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Alicia Hooker

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student Alicia Hooker is studying in Japan this semester with the help of a scholarship from the Freeman Award for Study in Asia program, which supports U.S. undergraduate students studying in East or Southeast Asia.

Hooker, a junior from Mukwonago, received the $2,500 Freeman Award in addition to a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship. The combined awards are enabling her to spend the 2013 spring semester studying at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata City, Japan.

Hooker, a software engineering major with a minor in Japanese, is enrolled in a variety of Japanese culture classes, including those relating to the visual anthropology of Japan and Japanese speaking, reading and writing.

"I wanted to go to a country that was completely unlike my own," Hooker said. "I wanted the opportunity to experience a new culture, language and way of life."

With a fascination with Japan's history, Hooker said one of her dreams is to visit the beautiful temples and shrines in Kyoto, Japan. She also said studying in Japan was ideal for her Japanese minor.

"I would really like to improve and become confident in my ability to speak Japanese," she said. "I want to try many new foods and even learn how to make some. Overall, I hope to make lifelong memories during my time abroad."

Hooker said she hopes her experience in Japan will build her communication skills and understanding for people of different cultures, especially in the field of information technology. She said she would like to work as a software developer and eventually become an IT manager.

Colleen Marchwick, a study abroad coordinator in UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education, said it is unusual and prestigious for a student to win both the Freeman Award and Gilman Scholarship for study abroad.

"It is very rare for a student to win two national scholarships for study abroad," Marchwick said. "I think it speaks to Alicia's strong academic ability and her combination of computer science, an underrepresented discipline among study abroad students, with Japanese language and culture studies."

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