Your support is incredibly important, and I do not take it for granted. I will continue to work hard and make our world a better place and one day, I will pay it forward.
As a child growing up in Japan, Joanne Tanaka, ’24, knew one day she wanted to go to college in the United States.
With her high school graduation on the horizon, Joanne began her search for the right school.
“As I started to think more seriously about what I wanted to do, I thought about teaching,” she said.
That’s when she discovered Bridgewater State University.
“I chose to move from Japan and attend BSU for its teaching program, class sizes and location. I knew I could get a higher quality of learning and, as an out-of-country student, BSU was also the most affordable,” Joanne said.
Like many college students, being able to finance her education was a concern.
“My parents are older. My mom is retired and on a fixed income and my father is nearing retirement age, which means they have less discretionary money to support me,” Joanne said.
Fortunately, she was able to secure a grant and received a scholarship through the university to offset some of the expenses.
“Receiving any amount of aid is appreciated. It all makes a difference. It’s money I won’t have to pay back to anyone,” Joanne said. “Because of this I am able to continue at BSU with less financial worry. I can focus on my academics to become the best teacher I can be.”
While pursuing two degrees in history and secondary education, Joanne is also a justice fellow within the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice and as a Fellow collaborates with the nonprofit organization, Raising Multicultural Kids, whose mission is to increase racial and cultural competency in predominately white schools.
Joanne herself comes from a multicultural background. She was adopted from China by an American mother and Japanese father.
“I was raised by both American and Japanese communities and BSU has provided me with a second home filled with incredibly supportive people who care and hold the same values as I do,” she said.
That support was never more evident than when Joanne first enrolled at Bridgewater, which was in the fall of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic.
“I moved on campus from Japan into Scott Hall,” she said. “At times it was isolating, but as I didn’t have any standards, I didn’t know what ‘normal’ looked like.”
She adds that the transition was eased by her professors and, eventually, her classmates.
With only a year to go before she earns her degrees, Joanne looks forward to beginning her teaching career and is grateful to have found a home at BSU.
“I didn’t have a ‘dream school’ when I was looking but now that I’ve been here for three years, knowing what’s available to me, the community, resources, scholarships, interactions...you could say it’s become my dream school,” she said.
This Giving Day, April 12-13, those looking to help students like Joanne reach their goals can make a gift to the Bridgewater Fund to support BSU students’ most urgent needs.
The Bridgewater Fund provides critical support for BSU students through scholarship, paid internships, and other life-changing experiences and opportunities.
“Thank you for supporting students and future teachers. Thank you for seeing me,” Joanne said to those who donate. “Your support is incredibly important, and I do not take it for granted. I will continue to work hard and make our world a better place and one day, I will pay it forward.”
Do you have a BSU story you'd like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org