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Indiana University


EASC Newsletter


A publication of the East Asian Studies Center, Indiana University

May 2012

Alumni Updates

Prof. Curtis Ashton (Folklore, Ph.D., 2010) is an assistant professor of Museum Studies at Utah State University. His current position came as a direct result of the dissertation research he conducted on museums in Beijing during 2007-2009 while at IU.

Jamie Burnett (EALC M.A., Law J.D., 2011) is an associate at the global law firm Jones Day in Chicago. She is practicing corporate law, including securities and mergers and acquisitions.

Prof. Greg Johnson (EALC Ph.D., 2009) was promoted to professor at Otsuma Women's University in Tokyo. He was appointed to the board of directors of the Japan Oral History Association.

Timothy S. Rich (Political Science, Ph.D., 2012) accepted a tenure track position at Western Kentucky University in the department of Political Science.


Alumna Profile: Michelle Hertzfeld

SPEA M.P.A./EALC M.A., 2010

Michelle HertzfeldAmericans are often overwhelmed by the idea of speaking a tonal language like Chinese or Vietnamese; however, this challenge is exactly what attracted Michelle Hertzfeld to East Asian studies.  In high school, Michelle took a seminar on the Vietnam War.  She recalls a Foreign Service officer who visited her class sharing his experience studying Vietnamese language and culture.  Intrigued by the talk, Michelle decided to major in international studies and chose Chinese to fulfill the language requirement for her major. She credits this decision partly to her desire to experience the study of a tonal language first hand.  Additionally, Michelle decided to focus on the study of environmental policy as a part of her international studies degree program at the University of Arizona.    

Michelle’s early interest in environmental policy and East Asia led her to pursue a joint master’s degree at IU Bloomington in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) and EALC. As an undergraduate and graduate student, Michelle studied drylands policies and the governance of desert regions in China and the United States. Her thesis on environmental governance in China was a fitting conclusion to her years of studying environmental policies and Chinese language. One of the most rewarding benefits of Michelle’s undergraduate and graduate studies has been the ability they have afforded her to bridge cultures; she has linked ranchers to satellite imagery in Arizona, made connections between American and Chinese environmental policy, and more.  Since receiving her graduate degree in 2010, Michelle’s professional career has flourished. After accepting a position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, Michelle now uses the knowledge and experience acquired in graduate school to track cooperation between the United States’ NOAA and the China Meteorological Administration. 

Michelle encourages students facing the challenge of finding employment after completing a degree to aggressively conduct a job search early. She recommends to students who are looking for a career with the federal government to “take the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) test, or use the preferential hiring status of the Boren Fellowship to give a prospective employee an advantage.”  She cautions that it can be difficult to distinguish yourself from other applicants using the federal job portal such as USAJobs.  Michelle also urges students to take advantage of the area studies programs at IU.  She explains, “It was amazing to be able to attend lectures, symposia, and the many cultural events that happened throughout the year…the Central Eurasian Studies’ (CEUS) pilaf cook-off, EASC-hosted colloquia, and the amazing variety of classes supported by Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) funding was just spectacular.”  According to Michelle, there are not many places where one can study “all of ‘China’ so easily”—IU offers coursework and expertise in Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China proper.  Michelle particularly values the advanced Mandarin language training she received at IU, stating that there are not many places in the United States that can offer federally funded language training at the level of IU’s Chinese Flagship Program. In October Michelle returned to IU to participate in the EASC and Career Development Center (CDC) co-sponsored East Asian Career Night. By sharing her own experiences working for the government and learning a foreign language, Michelle, like the Foreign Service officer who influenced her, has impacted the career path of others.    

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