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College of Arts and Sciences

Alex Hutchins: ‘Take upper-level seminars as soon as you can’

May 10, 2019

Alex Hutchins

Asian Studies & Religious Studies

Eureka, CA

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

The Japanese department at Cornell has given me a solid language background integral to my intended future career in academia. Although I cannot speak for Cornell's other language programs, I can say that when I studied abroad in Japan, I realized that my past Japanese classes had progressed at twice the pace of those taken by classmates from other universities. I am really appreciative and indebted to the dedication and support of Cornell's Japanese teachers.

What is your main extracurricular activity--why is it important to you?

I have been involved in the Japan-U.S. Association (JUSA) since the beginning of my freshman year. At present, I enjoy organizing cultural exchange events through the organization as president. It's been a really important community for me and I'm happy to call my fellow members some of my closest friends. I also really admire JUSA's member diversity, for we all share an appreciation for Japanese culture that eclipses other distinctions.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Take upper-level seminars as soon as you can and in the greatest number that you can. Their small size means more interaction with professors who, in turn, are teaching more specialized subjects that they are really passionate about. Overall, I've found seminars to be more rewarding than lecture-based or intro courses.