Congratulations to December 2021 Graduates!

Congratulations to our December 2021 graduates:

Ericah Martinez ’21 (minor in Asian Studies, major in Education Studies) has applied for the JET Program and hopes to teach English in Japan or elsewhere in East Asia after graduation before eventually seeking a master’s degree in the education field.

Kirstan McClendon ’21 (minor in Asian Studies, major in Spanish) plans to take post-graduate year off to improve both her Japanese and Spanish language skills while tutoring online to explore teaching as a career path.

Kurtis Shannon ’21 (major in Asian Studies) intends to remain in Kentucky and seek employment in a public library, with the goal of enrolling in a graduate program in library science or archivist studies in the near future.

Destiny Walker ’21 (major in Asian Studies) hopes to pursue a career as a librarian after spending the next year honing and developing her skills.

The Department of Asian Studies congratulates these graduates and wishes them all the best in the Year of the Water Tiger and beyond!

Avery Fair ’22 and Michelle Mecham ’22 to Present Research at National Conferences

Avery Fair ’22

Avery Fair ’22

Michelle Mecham

Michelle Mecham ’22

Congratulations to senior Asian Studies majors Avery Fair ’22 and Michelle Mecham ’22, whose paper proposals recently were accepted for presentation at the 61st Annual Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (SECAAS) in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as at the 2022 Annual Conference of ASIANetwork in Geneva, New York!  ASIANetwork is a consortium of over 160 North American colleges (including Berea College) that strives to strengthen the role of Asian Studies within the framework of liberal arts education. Both Avery and Michelle will be sharing their senior research – Avery’s on traditional houses in China’s Yunnan province, Michelle’s on Japanese popular culture and environmental spirituality – at these conferences, which attract scholars and students from all over the United States and Canada.  Avery and Michelle are the only undergraduate students whose paper proposals were accepted by SECAAS this year.  Their research was supervised by Dr. Jeff Richey and they will be mentored at the conferences by Dr. Richey and Dr. Jianfen Wang.

Brittany Wick (Welch) ’15 to Enter Esport Management

Brittany Welch

Brittany Welch ’15

Congratulations to Brittany Wick (Welch) ’15, who recently was accepted to study esport management at Eastern Tennessee State University!  One of very few such programs in the United States, ETSU’s program will enable Brittany to pursue her dream of building community through the shared love of video gaming.

Darlene Smith Lytle ’12 to Become a Librarian

Darlene Lytle

Darlene Lytle ’12

Congratulations to Darlene Smith Lytle ’12, who recently was accepted to study library and information science at the University of Washington!  Ranked as the #2 such program in the United States, the University of Washington’s program emphasizes diversity, inclusion, and social justice – all values that should be familiar to any Berea College student or graduate.  As an undergraduate at Berea, Darlene studied Chinese language and spent time in China studying abroad.  After graduation, she taught English teacher in the city of Yuncheng in China’s Shanxi Province.  Her post-China relocation to the Pacific Northwest enabled her to bring her experiences in both Berea and China to work in public libraries as well as a Montessori school in the Seattle area, where she began to see how her academic background and passion for helping others might be channeled into librarianship.  “I couldn’t have done it without [the Asian Studies Department’s] help in developing my writing, critical thinking, and professional skills,” says Darlene. “It feels good to finally know how I want to best use my strengths.”

Logan Lee Sigurðsson ’17 Completes M.A.

Logan Lee Sigurdsson Smith 17

Logan Lee Sigurðsson ’17

Congratulations to Logan Lee Sigurðsson ’17 who recently completed her M.A. in International Affairs at the University of Iceland!  Logan, who relocated to Iceland shortly after graduation, double-majored in Asian Studies and Peace & Social Justice Studies at Berea.  As a Berea student, she spent a year studying at Kyūshū University in Fukuoka, Japan and developed a strong interest in problems related to human migration, especially human trafficking and refugees.  Her recent graduate work in Iceland has enabled her to deepen and extend that interest.

A Quiet Farewell to the Class of 2021

Graduating class of 2021

Graduating Asian Studies majors and minors, spring 2021 (clockwise from top left: A.J. Coop, Travis Felty, Tae’Jah Jones, Madeline Kujabi, Nhan Phan, Anderson Stettner, Michelle Atkinson)

This spring has brought the return of lush flowers and green grass to our campus, but also the repetition of some pandemic-era peculiarities.  While some of our graduating seniors are on campus, others are not.  Due to continuing restrictions on campus activities in response to COVID-19 concerns, for the second year in a row Berea College will not stage in-person Commencement exercises.  Instead, the Department of Asian Studies would like to take this opportunity to celebrate our spring 2021 graduating majors and minors and their achievements:

Michelle Atkinson ’21 (major in Communication, minor in Asian Studies) is a member of Omicron Sigma, the honor society for outstanding achievement in Communication, and recently qualified for initiation as a member of Epsilon Alpha Sigma (EAΣ), the honor society for academic achievement in East Asian Studies.  She has accepted an internship in marketing and sales based in New York City for summer 2021.

A.J. Coop ’21 (double major in Asian Studies and Political Science) recently qualified for initiation as a member of EAΣ.   His Berea experience included a period of study in China.  After graduation, he plans to relocate to Brooklyn, New York to gain work experience over a gap year prior to beginning graduate work in the study of Sino-American relations.

Travis Felty ’21 (major in Asian Studies) plans to teach English online after graduation.  During his time as a Berea student, he interned at Asia Institute (“Crane House”) in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tae’Jah Jones ’21 (double major in Asian Studies and Psychology) is a member of Psi Chi, an honor society that recognizes excellence in Psychology, and recently qualified for initiation as a member of EAΣ.  As a Berea student, she studied in China.  Before undertaking graduate studies, she plans to take a gap year to gain more experience in the fields of psychology and nutrition.

Madeline Kujabi ’21 (minors in Dance and Women’s & Gender Studies) has accepted a post-graduate position with BereaCorps as an Annual Giving Associate.  She is a member of the Mortar Board honor society and recently qualified for initiation as a member of EAΣ.  Madeline plans to pursue her dual M.A. in Diplomacy/International Relations and Asian Studies at Seton Hall University in 2022-23.

Nhan Phan ’21 (major in Studio Art, minors in Asian Studies and Art History) recently exhibited her senior show, “A Stitch in Time: Preserving Vietnamese Intangible Heritages through Traditional Hand Embroidery,” which may be viewed online here.  As a Berea student, she received several honors and awards, including the Mary McAuley Memorial Scholarship, the Francis S. Hutchins Creative Art Award, and the Surface Design Association Outstanding Student Award, and was a finalist for a Windgate-Lamar Fellowship to study lotus silk weaving and traditional hand embroidery in Vietnam. Currently, she is searching for post-Berea employment opportunities.

Anderson Stettner ’21 (double major in Asian Studies and Computer & Information Science) hopes to find employment in the computer science industry after graduation.  He also plans to continue his Japanese language studies and add Korean to his list of language assets, preferably through extended travel in East Asia.

The Department of Asian Studies congratulates these graduates and wishes them all the best in the Year of the Metal Ox and beyond!

Nhan Phan ’21 Explores Vietnamese Heritage through Embroidery

Nhan Phan portrait

Nhan Phan ’21

Graduating senior Asian Studies minor and Studio Art major Nhan Phan ’21 has produced a beautiful exhibit of her embroidery art that explores her personal experience as someone who was born in Việt Nam but came of age in the United States.  Entitled A Stitch in Time: Preserving Vietnamese Intangible Heritages through Traditional Hand Embroidery, the exhibit features Western-style embroidery that illustrates traditional Vietnamese themes.

The Seeds Embroidery by Nhan Phan

Nhan Phan, “The Seeds,” 2021

“As a child of diaspora, it is difficult for me to define home,” says Nhan. “I don’t fit in the U.S. because its culture is different from the one in my home, nor was I completely raised with Vietnamese cultural values…. Just as I am living in a cross-cultural mindset, my embroidery experiences the same.”

You may visit this exhibition virtually here.

Avery Fair ’22 Helps Traditional China Come Alive in Contemporary Appalachia

Avery Fair headshot

Avery Fair ’22

Rising senior Asian Studies major Avery Fair ’22 will spend this summer interning as a Cultural Curator at the China Folk House Retreat (CFHR) in Jefferson County, West Virginia.  Rebuilt on a site near the Shenandoah River at the Friends Wilderness Center, the China Folk House originally was constructed using traditional methods (no power tools or machinery) in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, where a Han Chinese population coexists with numerous ethnic minority groups, including Bai, Tibetan, Naxi, Yi, and Lisu people.  The house’s original regional setting is similar in topography to southern Appalachia, where it was transplanted in 2017-18.  Today, it is the centerpiece of a cross-cultural effort to foster relationships between the rural U.S. and rural China.

Having volunteered at CFHR in the past, Avery – who is a double major in Asian Studies and Technology and Applied Design – will conduct research on traditional Chinese artisanal and agricultural techniques with scholars from the Smithsonian Folklife Center, assist with a three-week summer camp, and produce materials for museum displays as part of his internship.  “I’ll be taking on much more of a role in the education and research side of the program than I have in the past summers, when I was merely a volunteer,” says Avery. “My sponsors will be both Dr. Wang from the Asian Studies Department and Dr. Feinberg from the Technology and Applied Design Department since this internship with likely entail aspects of both of my majors.”

Molly Baker Halstead ’11 Completes M.A.

Molly Baker Halstead

Molly Baker Halstead ’11

Congratulations to Molly Baker Halstead ’11, who recently completed her M.A. in art history at the University of Kentucky!  Molly’s road to this educational milestone has taken her from her native West Virginia to Berea, Japan, New York City, and back again.  Along the way, she studied in Japan through the KIIS program, assisted visiting scholar Dr. Sandy Kita in cataloging rare Japanese items in Berea College’s Asian art collection, worked for the Asia Society in New York City, served as curator and gallery manager at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia’s David L. Dickirson Gallery, and spent a year as Assistant Curator of the College Art Collections and Manager of the Doris Ulmann Galleries here on campus.  Presently, she serves as Engagement Services Manager at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts.  “It was a longer, windier road than I thought it would be,” says Molly, “but I’m so happy to have finally finished.”

Brandon Mitchell ’19 Composes Music Inspired by Japan

Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell ’19

Congratulations to Brandon Mitchell ’19, whose original musical composition has been selected to be performed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Department of Technology and Applied Composition Showcase Concert!  The January 24 performance will be livestreamed and then archived online at

Brandon studied in Japan with Berea professors Dr. Lauren McKee and Dr. Jeff Richey through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) on a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship during the summer of 2018.  He based his composition on Murakami Haruki 村上 春樹’s short story, “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo” as well as on his experience of visiting the Hiroshima Peace Bell during his time in Japan.  Brandon is now enrolled as a graduate student in the Technology and Applied Composition Department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he is studying under Lennie Moore. Upon completion of his studies, he hopes to work as a composer for film and video games and continue to travel the world and share his music with others.