Wendell “Hotfoot” Garnett ’05 Reaches Milestone in Tibetan Buddhist Studies

Wendell "Hotfoot" Garnett ’05

Congratulations to Wendell “Hotfoot” Garnett ’05, who recently completed the first portion of the 17-year Geshe degree program of Tibetan Buddhist studies at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India!  This program offers an intensive grounding in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy through the traditional method of debating key Buddhist texts.  On hand to help mark this achievement by Wendell and others was His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who has resided in Dharmashala since fleeing Tibet in 1959.  Having completed this initial 8-year portion of his studies, Wendell will continue to study for another 9 years in order to complete the program.  Once he has finished his studies, he will receive the title Geshe (Tibetan, “one who knows virtue”), the equivalent of a doctoral degree in Tibetan Buddhist academic traditions.

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Three New Books by Asian Studies Faculty

Three faculty members in the Asian Studies Department are publishing books this fall:





  • Richey Book CoverJeff Richey has expanded his 2013 book, Confucius in East Asia: Confucianism’s History in China, Korea, Japan, and Viet Nam, which now is available in a second, revised edition from Columbia University Press as part of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS)’ Key Issues in Asian Studies series. The new version incorporates analysis of Confucianism’s impact on how East Asian societies have responded to recent events such as the global coronavirus epidemic, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and recent legal developments and social media trends.



  • McKee book coverLauren McKee also is publishing a volume in the AAS’ Key Issues in Asian Studies series, Japanese Government and Politics (Columbia University Press, 2022). Her book takes a comparative approach to Japanese politics, covering topics such as political parties and elections, civil society, bureaucracy, and foreign relations, and shows that strengthening democratic institutions is an ongoing struggle throughout much of the world, including Japan.

Congratulations to these faculty authors!

Madeline Kujabi ’21 to Study Peace & Conflict at UNC-Greensboro

Madeline Kujabi ’21, who has spent the year since the completion of her Berea studies working with BereaCorps, has accepted a place in the M.A. program in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  A native of The Gambia who focused on China while majoring in Asian Studies at Berea, Madeline will be supported by a graduate assistantship at UNC-G.  祝贺 and congratulations, Madeline!

Congratulations to May 2022 Graduates!


Congratulations to our May 2022 graduates:

Eka Brummett ’22 (double major in Asian Studies and Education Studies) will relocate to Virginia, where she hopes to teach in a bilingual (Chinese and English) preschool.  Next year, she will go to China to gain teaching experience there.  Her long-term plan is to teach Chinese language and/or English as a second language in the U.S.

Avery Fair ’22 (double major in Asian Studies and Technology & Applied Design) plans to spend the summer of 2022 working as a program director at the China Folk House Retreat before relocating to Taiwan to study Chinese at National Taiwan University in fall 2022.

Ken Kincaid ’22 (major in Asian Studies) plans to apply to post-graduate programs that will give him the opportunity to strengthen his foreign language skills and make new connections.

Megan McEahern ’22 (double minor in Asian Studies and Communication, major in Art History) has accepted a one-year BereaCorps position as an Admissions Representative.  She plans to apply for the Fulbright program in order to teach English in South Korea and hopes to spend her 20s building a travel-focused career that will enable her to live abroad in the long term.

Michelle Mecham ’22 (double major in Asian Studies and Child & Family Studies) will relocate to Japan in fall 2022 to accept a position as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.

Alana Pass ’22 (double major in Asian Studies and English) plans to pursue further higher education and explore careers related to her interests in English and Asian Studies.

Annaliese Pena ’22 (double major in Asian Studies and Biology) will attend the Royal Veterinary College in London, England for Ph.D. studies and licensing as a veterinary surgeon, beginning in fall 2022.  Her long-term goal is to become a globally minded veterinarian who is capable of working all over the world. She also plans to continue developing her Chinese language skills for use in her medical career.

Frances Waters ’22 (minor in Asian Studies, major in English) plans to continue writing and eventually pursue graduate studies in journalism.

Rachel Wydeck ’22 (double major in Asian Studies and Child & Family Studies) hopes to take a one-year BereaCorps position before pursuing graduate studies and a career in student affairs.

Sean Tongtu Zechar ’22 (minor in Asian Studies, major in Studio Art) hopes to teach English in China in 2023 through CIEE’s Teach Abroad Program.  After living and working in China for a short time, he plans to seek employment as an art educator.

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

Three Berean Finalists Accepted by JET Program

Fatima King, Nicole Maging, Michelle Mecham

Fatima King ’14, Nicole Manging ’19, and Michelle Mecham ’22

Every year, a handful of Berea seniors and graduates apply for the highly competitive Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Since 1987, more than 70,000 college and university graduates from all around the world have taught their native languages in Japan through the JET Program, which is administered by the Japanese government in cooperation with 38 other national governments. For most of that time, only one applicant from Berea has been successful each year.  In 2019, however, six Berea graduates were accepted by the program, setting a new record, which was nearly matched by Berea’s success in 2020, when all four finalists from Berea were accepted.

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Prof. McKee Named a US-Japan Network for the Future Fellow for 2022-24

Prof. McKee

おめでとう and congratulations to Dr. Lauren McKee, who has been chosen by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership to be a Fellow in the 6th cohort of the US-Japan Network for the Future!  During the first year of her fellowship (in 2022-23, when she will be on sabbatical leave), she will travel frequently to Washington, DC, Tokyo, and the Mansfield Foundation headquarters in Montana as she studies common policy issues in the US-Japan relationship.  The second year of the fellowship (in 2023-24) will involve intensive writing, governmental policy recommendation, and public outreach on the same topic.  Dr. McKee, who recently earned tenure at Berea College and specializes in East Asian politics with a focus on Japan, says, “I am honored to be chosen for this fellowship and excited to be a part of this important work.”

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.”