MAPS Students Building Bridges Through Research and Networking

Students and faculty in the M.A. in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS) program counted a number of notable achievements and events during the 2016 spring semester. From conference travel to networking forums to awards and new developments in the Program, our amazing students and affiliated faculty regularly demonstrate excellence in their academic work and research. Moreover, they benefit and grow from valuable networking and professional development opportunities.

After months of preparation, the third annual MAPS Career and Networking Forum was held on February 17th at USF’s McLaren Center, an event co-sponsored by the Center, the Dean’s Office in Arts and Sciences, and multiple USF departments and programs.

Representatives from over 35 companies, organizations, and agencies distributed information about their activities and discussed with MAPS (and other graduate as well as undergraduate) students a wide range of job and intern possibilities. The theme for this year’s event was “Bridging the Academic to the Professional” and featured a keynote talk by Matt Wilkerson, Founder and CEO of Paragon One (a career-coaching and networking startup). We were delighted to see some recent MAPS graduates, now fully-employed, representing their organizations at the event and engaging in conversations with current USF students soon to enter the workforce.

Along with its emphasis on professional development, the MAPS program strongly encourages—and supports—presentations of student research at academic conferences and public events. John Ostermiller presented his research on Japanese baseball at a poster session on campus sponsored by the Dean’s Office, and will travel to Cal. State University at Northridge for a regional Association of Asian Studies conference. Accompanied by MAPS faculty member Genevieve Leung, MAPS students Melissa Chen, Siyuan (Ross) Huang, Tina Tan, and Lesley Wynn also presented or will present their research at international or regional conferences in locations ranging from Hong Kong to Singapore to Toronto to Columbus, Ohio.

At the 15th annual graduate student conference hosted in February by the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, four students’ proposals were accepted and all were able to give presentations, which Academic Director, John Nelson, helped prepare them for ahead of time. Anna Vladykina, Tiger Vu, Brandon Oliva, and Yune Leou-On received funding from the Program and traveled to Honolulu for a three-day event full of networking, conversations with colleagues at peer institutions, and East-West Center scholars. Several weeks later, MAPS students Craig Asberry and David Hein made a similar trip to the University of Hawaii’s regional conference on Asian Studies. Rumor has it that all of these students also made it to the beach where (we assume) research was conducted on various themes related to sun, surf, swimwear, and different styles of relaxation in the western Asia-Pacific.

It is always a special moment when one of our students steps into a spotlight of recognition and achievement. Ms. Tina Tan (MAPS/MBA) not only received a “Graduate Student Leadership Award” from the Division of Student Life at USF, she also published original research (“Why are Chinese not Buying Chinese Brands?”) in the spring 2016 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Asia Pacific Perspectives.

While there is much more to discuss about events related to the Program, our exceptionally- hard working and diligent students, and the expertise of faculty who teach our core and elective seminars, this brief report should convey some of the dynamic opportunities and experiences that remain so fundamental to the MAPS experience. We encourage any readers interested in MAPS to contact us through our website.