Over fifty members of the RSEA community gathered online for the 2021 RSEA Alumni Panel event on October 28. RSEA Chair Alexander Zahlten welcomed alumni from as far as Tokyo, Germany, and California, as well as students, faculty, and staff joining from campus and the Cambridge area.
In her opening remarks, GSAS Dean Emma Dench commended the intellectual depth and breadth of RSEA graduates and the remarkable impact they have gone on to make in many sectors and fields of work.
View the 2021 RSEA Alumni Panel program.
Four Alumni Panelists were invited to share reflections on their time in RSEA and steps in their career path since.
Keung Yoon (Becky) Bae (AM' 14, PhD '20), Assistant Professor of Korean Studies at Georgia Tech, recalled the feeling of connection and "finding my drive" among RSEA friends who shared an interest in East Asia. She noted how participating in HEAS (the Harvard East Asia Society) was a "crash course" in organizing a conference and an experience which proved useful in pursuing an academic career.
Annika Culver (AM '00), Associate Professor of East Asian History at Florida State University, spoke about the impressive classmates she met while studying across different disciplines from history and literature to policy and journalism. She encouraged current students to meet people, as every chance encounter may later provide an opportunity for collaboration or connection.
John Fei (AM '97), International Economist at the US Treasury, values the diversity and eclecticism of the RSEA program that makes pursuing a variety of career paths possible. He urged students interested in non-academic careers to remain flexible and willing to pick up new skills in order to adapt to different job opportunities.
Chiho Sawada (AM '93, PhD '03), Associate Professor of Politics and History at Holy Names University, advised students to combine passion for learning with practicality and planning when considering career directions. Those interested in academia might broaden their scholarship to a secondary field or metholodogy that will be of interest to colleges. He encouraged students interested in non-academic career to seek internships to gain experience and make connections with organizations.
Participating students and alumni had the opportunity to ask questions of each panelist in breakout rooms, where discussion of career directions and strategies could take place within smaller groups.
Towards the end of the evening, small "mingle" breakout rooms gave participants a randomized chance to meet a few others in the RSEA community. This was a fun way to hear where other alumni are working, to share stories about RSEA and organizing the HEAS conferences, and to connect our current students with the alumni community.
Thank you to the 2021 Alumni Panelists for sharing their stories and advice for students. And thank you to all who participated and made it an enjoyable evening of reconnection.