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Meet Mayumi Shirai: Student, TA, and Campus Celebrity

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Mayumi Shirai is a Japanese TA here at Florida State University. She teaches three classes and is a student herself. Most of us could never imagine moving to a foreign country and receiving two masters, but Shirai Sensei has conquered the impossible.

Her Campus (HC): Where were you born?

Mayumi Shirai (MS): Kobe, Japan.

HC: When did you move to the U.S?

MS: I moved to the U.S in 2007. I traveled by myself for two months. I bought a pass for the Amtrak train and went to about ten cities throughout the east coast. I started in Michigan and went to Chicago, Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C. I stayed in hostels and I saw a lot of people who were traveling the same routes I was traveling, so I wasn’t entirely alone. I wanted to see if I could survive and communicate.

HC: How long did it take to become fluent in English?

MS: About three years. I studied English in Japan but could only communicate a little bit. I took ESL classes for international students at Mississippi State University per a friend’s recommendation. I thought it would be a good environment for me to be in and the tuition was cheaper. I started graduate school for Psychology but couldn’t continue due to high tuition, so I only stayed for one semester.

HC: Why did you choose FSU?

MS: I found someone’s blog on the internet who was a Japanese TA at FSU. I thought it was really cool because they cover tuition while studying at the university. I pretty much moved without really contacting anyone else about it. I just needed a new environment and to branch out. I took ESL classes again for a few months and began to study for the GRE. I also applied to TCC and took some classes for about a year. Then, I talked to someone at FSU about becoming a Japanese TA. This person said that as long as I get admitted into graduate school, I can teach.

HC: What are your masters degrees in?

MS: Social work. It took me three years to complete. My second masters degree is in foreign language teaching.

HC: What courses do you currently teach?

MS: I teach two Japanese Intermediate Reading & Conversation courses and teach a Kanji class once a week.

HC: What do you plan on doing with your masters degrees?

MS: I want to work with either one of them. My social work internship was difficult because it was hard for me to write-up some of the documents. I think I have a higher chance of using my second masters degree and teaching Japanese.

HC: What do you plan on doing later on in life?

MS: My track is teaching K-12. I don’t plan on getting a Ph.D, which is required to be a professor at Florida State University. So I would like to either work in a community college or a high school. I also want to move to a bigger city with more demands for foreign language teaching, possibly in California.

Senior at Florida State University. Major: Creative Writing Minors: Communications/Hospitality Management
Her Campus at Florida State University.