Alumni News

For more updates from alumni and the Asian Studies Program, check out our newsletter and Facebook page!

2014-2015 Updates

  • Sandy Avila (MA ‘08) pursued a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida after graduating from the program in 2008. She is currently working as an Academic Librarian. She presents regularly at state and national conferences and will publish a book chapter, entitled “Library Instruction and Apps: The Key to Connection”, in early 2016. She also teaches Information Literacy courses at Ashford University and Religion and Philosophy courses at Florida Technical College, often infusing lessons with experiences from her time spent in Asia.
  • Julia Beabout (MA ‘13) received a Confucius Institute Scholarship to continue her Chinese language studies at Jiangsu Normal University in Xuzhou, China after graduating from FIU. She is currently serving as an Advisor to the China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. In Fall 2014, she helped organize the first-ever US Department of Commerce certified trade mission to China focused on the energy efficiency market sector. In addition to participating in the mission, she wrote a market briefing on China's EE sector for the trade mission delegates and assisted with the translation.
  • Alex Dvoriantchikova (MA ‘14) is employed by the FIU Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship Studies, which specializes in certifying students in National Security, as well as North American Studies and Public Policy Studies. Her role in the Institute includes assisting the director on all program matters, speaking on behalf of the program in classroom visits, organizing program events, and advising students on program certificates, internships and other related opportunities. In Fall 2014, she took 3 months to travel to India, Israel, Turkey, and Iceland.
  • Yuanyuan Fang (MA ‘11) is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in International Relations at FIU. She is writing her dissertation on U.S.-Japan-China relations within the regional institutional framework. She also serves on the board of Asian Studies Alumni and Friends Association.
  • Jennifer Garcia (MA ‘11) spent two years in Japan as part of the JET Program. Jennifer’s experience in Japan was highlighted in an article “Interest in Asian Studies Explodes,” published in the FIU Magazine. Afterwards, she moved to Spain with the goal of continuing the promotion of intercultural exchange as an English language assistant.
  • Zenel Garcia (MA ‘13) is currently pursuing a PhD in International Relations at FIU. Zenel presented his thesis in Perth, Australia in Summer 2014 for the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) as well as Tempe, Arizona for the Western Conference for the Association of Asian Studies (WCAAS) in October 2014. Zenel first traveled to China in Summer 2013 to continue studying Mandarin, returned again in Summer 2014 for vacation and once more in Summer 2015 to present a paper at a conference.
  • Maria Jamass (MA ‘14) is an English teacher at a public school in the Gangnam area of Seoul, Korea. After she completes her teaching contract in Korea, she plans to move to Spain to teach in Málaga, as well as to conduct research and study Islamic history in Spain, before applying to graduate programs in Iberian Studies. Ultimately, Maria hopes to earn a PhD in the field focusing either on Moorish identity in medieval to early modern Spain, or on the contemporary Muslim experience in Spain.
  • Wendy Lo (MA ‘09) currently works at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens and was recently promoted to the Curator of Education, where she continues to promote Japanese culture through museum programs, outreach, and collaborations with community organizations. This past year, she worked with the Morikami Museum’s curatorial department on a summer exhibit on Japanese robots in Japanese society and pop culture.
  • Krissy Loveman (Graduate Certificate in Asian Globalization ‘14), former Program Assistant in the Asian Studies Office, is currently working as an Education Abroad Advisor for programs in Asia and Pacifica at the University of South Florida. Prior to becoming an Education Abroad Advisor, she was an exchange student at Kansai Gaidai in Japan and later spent two years teaching English in rural Japan with the JET Program after graduation. Now, in her spare time, she does mixed media art and works on her side projects JET Program Dekita ( and Almost Tadaima (
  • Gabriela Romeu (MA ‘13) has been an English teacher in Okinawa, Japan for the past two years as part of the JET Program. As an English teacher by day and an Okinawan dancer by night, Gabriela strives to teach not only English, but also to represent naturalized Americans, and to promote internationalization in Japan through cultural exchange and dialogue. She was featured in an Okinawa Times newspaper article in September 2013: “Enthusiastically Interested in Okinawan Culture.” In November AJET Connect magazine published her article, "Nationalism: By the Books," which addresses the strained relations between China and Japan.
  • Grace Taylor (BA ‘09) is currently working as Program Coordinator for the Office of Study abroad at FIU, where she advises students through the study abroad process, facilitates workshops and assists students with their scholarship essay writing. Recently, she went to Brazil with the OSA team for a site visit to Centro Universitário Una in Belo Horizonte. Grace has also been accepted to the English Master’s Program at North Carolina State University, where she will be a Graduate Teaching Assistant and will be teaching First-Year composition courses in her second year.
  • Sharon Thieman (MA ‘13) was recently accepted to the Visual Art Master’s Program at FAU, where her concentration will be painting. Her program begins in Fall 2015.
  • Erin Weston (MA ‘07) took some time to travel the world, including many Asian countries, after her graduation. She is currently employed in the Religious Studies Department at FIU as a Digital Instructor. As a Digital Instructor, she creates and teaches online classes, including a new online class, “Survey of Buddhism.”

2012-2013 Updates

  • Lukas Danner presented his paper, “Confucian Influences on Popular Values in China and Taiwan,” at the 54th annual Conference of the American Association for Chinese Studies at Georgia Tech in October 2012. The paper examines how Confucian influence has been on the rise since the 1970s through the use of media analysis, as well as how the rise in Confucianism coincided with a decline in individualism. Danner also presented his paper, “Regional Security Complex Theory and the Diaoyu Islands Conflict," at the 2013 East Asia Security Symposium at China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing. Danner will be analyzing, through the implementation of the Regional Security Complex Theory, the various social, environmental, and political security dynamics and what it means for the conflict, namely the potential of armed conflict between China and Japan.
  • Adam Johnson completed the MA in Asian Studies and an Asian Globalization Graduate Certificate in Summer 2012. He was recognized by President Mark Rosenberg as a “World’s Ahead Graduate” at commencement and also received the Award for Academic Excellence from the College of Arts and Sciences for outstanding academic standing and involvement in extracurricular activities. Adam is currently enlisted in the Army (Special Forces Recruit).
  • Joshua Korn graduated in Spring 2012 with a BA in Asian Studies and a Japanese Studies Certificate. He is currently living in Yokohama, Japan working for Harvard Kids, a private English teaching company.
  • David Tacoronte graduated with a Minor in Asian Studies in Spring 2012. He was accepted into the JET Program, and is currently teaching English to students displaced by the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan. He lives in Kashima near Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.
  • Karen Cespedes completed a paid internship at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from June of 2011 to August of 2011 with the U.S. State Department. She completed her MA in Asian Studies in Spring 2013.
  • Jennifer Garcia, an Asian Studies BA graduate and Fu Foundation recipient (2007), received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for Spring 2009. She spent the spring semester at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. After completing the MA in Asian Studies, Jennifer was accepted into the JET Program and lived in Tamba, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan for two years.
  • Veljko Dujin, who graduated as a double major in Asian Studies and Art History, is working in a full-time position at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. He also completed the MA in Asian Studies.