ABERDEEN, S.D. – ShyAnn Springer’s future career plans were solidified over a restaurant children’s menu – as a teen, Springer used the kids’ menu at a local Denny’s to teach English words to the Japanese exchange student staying with her family.
“I knew from that moment that I wanted to teach in Japan or South Korea,” said Springer, a Northern State University senior from Bradley.
Now, her dream career is about to become a reality.
Springer, an English secondary education major with an emphasis in TESOL, has been selected for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. She’ll travel to Japan this fall to teach English, learn about the culture, and share experiences with other teachers.
It’s a competitive program, and Springer said the fact that she studied abroad last year in Japan helped give her an edge.
“Studying at Meiji University is probably the catalyst that pushed me into getting accepted to the interview stage,” she said. “Not only did it show that I was serious about learning Japanese and participating in the culture, but it also proved to me that I could live there. I felt so at home that I knew Japan is somewhere I could kickstart my career.”
About the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
The JET Program places educators from around the world at schools throughout Japan. The program’s focus is making connections, with the goal of interacting with Japanese students and community members to share cultures.
This year, placements have been delayed due to COVID-19, so Springer doesn’t know yet where she’ll be stationed. But she’ll leave for Japan in September, and for at least 10 months she’ll work as an assistant language teacher, joining the English teachers in the classroom to provide a native speaker's perspective and cultural information.
While she’s there, Springer also hopes to take Japanese classes, complete a few levels on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and travel around Japan and to other countries.
Becoming a Japanese language professor is a career goal for Springer. While she partly chose to attend Northern because it’s relatively close to home, it was mostly because NSU was the only school offering the TESOL certificate at the time, which is crucial to teaching in Japan.
Northern has Provided Many Opportunities
“Northern has helped me succeed by giving me so many opportunities to test out my knowledge and learn about myself,” Springer said. “Everything from working at the tutoring center to presenting at the Honors conference in New Orleans helped me get to where I am today. The study abroad office helped me succeed by helping me find a program that fit my needs, and then I was able to share my experience with other students at Northern.”
Springer especially praised her TRIO advisor, Krista Bau, for helping her succeed.
“From day one, she promised I would have the education I wanted and she made sure of it,” Springer said. “She went above and beyond to find a Japanese class I could take online and she always challenged me. I truly don't think I would have done as well as I did or even received my position with JET if it wasn't for her help.”
International Programs Office Helped Search for Scholarship
The Office of International Programs at NSU is very proud of Springer, said Director of International Programs Dominika Blum. Blum recalls how excited Springer was when they first met to discuss her desire to go abroad. Together, they searched for scholarships to help cover the cost – even though there was a moment she almost gave up the scholarship search, OIP staff encouraged her nonstop to keep looking and applying.
The result: A $5,000 scholarship to pursue her dream.
“The rest is history,” Blum said. “Dreams do come true, and ShyAnn is a beautiful example of persistence and resilience to make her dream a reality. The JET program is lucky to have her. I am truly excited to see what she will do next!”
Learn more about Northern’s study abroad opportunities by visiting NSU Study Abroad.
About Northern State University
Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.