Returning to Campus with New Perspective

December 11, 2017

Grace Blinkoff

Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura ’15
Scanlon-Kimura poses for a photo at the Kawakami tomato farm in Biratori, Japan.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura ’15

After traveling throughout Japan on a 10-month Fulbright fellowship, Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura ’15 returned to campus to pass on his wisdom about the endless possibilities for Obies after graduation.

As one of the top producers of Fulbright fellows, Oberlin sends students all over the world to study and research in any number of fields. For Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura ’15, his Fulbright meant having the opportunity to travel to Japan for 10 months while studying sustainability and local food systems as drivers of rural economies and communities.

Scanlon-Kimura describes his project as interdisciplinary, filed under political science, but inspired by his passions in school rather than a specific set of courses. By considering his array of experiences at Oberlin, he was able to “weave together a narrative” to produce a grant proposal that later allowed him to live and work with local food producers, farmers, and fishermen.

Though Scanlon-Kimura’s project required an analytic component—reading policy documents from the farm bureaucracy in English and Japanese, and assessing agricultural reform proposals—he found the interpersonal component especially inspiring. By directly engaging with food producers in different communities, Scanlon-Kimura says he was able to glean a detailed picture of what was happening in agricultural production on a micro level.

After completing his fellowship, Scanlon-Kimura returned to a more familiar territory, taking a position with Oberlin’s Career Development Center. With a range of experiences under his belt, Scanlon-Kimura is well prepared to advise younger generations of Oberlin students who might be wondering, “What next?” after graduating. He says that it is important to use Oberlin’s liberal arts education as a way of taking ownership of your education, asking questions, maintaining an open mind, and building up a diverse collection of interests.

For Scanlon-Kimura, actively seeking out mentorship and utilizing the services of the Career Development Center helped him translate his apprehension of the future into excitement. Now, as a member of the career team, Scanlon-Kimura hopes to continue to help students “put together the pieces.”

“If I can help a hundred people do what they want to do, and then they go on to be successful, that’s much more than I could have achieved on my own,” he says.

The recent graduate also emphasized that the network of recently graduated Obies can aid students in their transition to the “real world,” adding that Oberlin alumni are everywhere and always willing to share their stories.

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