Romi Zayas, a junior in the Macaulay Honors College at Lehman and a scholar in the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, will embark on a trip of a lifetime to Tokyo where she will study advanced Japanese at the Kanda University of International Studies this spring. She’s doing so with some help from a Jack Nash Scholars Award—a one-time scholarship grant of $10,000 for education expenses—and from Macaulay’s Opportunities Fund.
“I just can’t wait to go,” says Zayas, who, other than a few trips to visit family in the Dominican Republic, has never truly traveled abroad. Her love for the Japanese language and culture started as a young child watching anime movies and playing Japanese video games. Still, when she arrived at Lehman she had initially planned on studying biology. “I guess I didn’t love biology and professors and advisors really encouraged me to go for Japanese,” explains Zayas. She hasn’t looked back since.
“Romi, who came to us from Brooklyn Latin High School, has made the most of the opportunities afforded her by Lehman and Macaulay, particularly benefiting from the pedagogical excellence of Professor Asako Tochika, who pioneered and developed the study of Japanese at Lehman,” says Dr. Gary Schwartz, director of the Macaulay Honors College at Lehman and Lehman Scholars Program.
Dr. Schwartz says Zayas is so involved in what he calls “Japanology” that she was willing to put herself in debt for this premier program in Japan. With the help of Lisa Hoyt at Macaulay Central, Zayas was able to access the Nash Scholarship. “This is a success story highlighting just what CUNY can do for its students,” says Dr. Schwartz.
On getting the Jack Nash Award, Zayas thinks it is a miracle. “I’m really grateful to everyone at the Macaulay office for their encouragement and for helping me make this happen,” says Zayas.
She says she’s looking forward to practicing her Japanese and being able to interact with the culture on a more personal level. Despite a busy class schedule, she has already made plans to visit sites in Yokohama, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.