My name is Linda Kuniyama. Although I was raised in Tokyo, Japan, I am biracial: my father is from Iraq and my mother is from Japan. I was born in Iraq but I moved to Tokyo when I was 4 years old due to the Iran-Iraq war back in 80s. I consider my mix of nationalities very interesting, as both countries are hot topics that are always on the news, yet rarely discussed simultaneously. Although, Iraq is typically portrayed in the media in a more negative light than Japan, I love both countries as they both have unique and amazing cultures. I can definitely say I am proud Arab-Japanese girl.
Before I came to John Cabot University, I worked in Tokyo for about 10 years as an interpreter for a well-known international company. This allowed me to travel all over Japan doing research gender, race and age in different regions of the country. My talent was languages, so I used my skills to facilitate communication between my boss, my colleagues and the clients.
After I graduated from high school I started working full time because of financial reasons. Although my working experience was rewarding, earning a bachelor’s degree was always a dream of mine. Eventually I got the opportunity to attend university, and I chose to study communications at John Cabot University.
Yes, I came here as a freshman and began studying at the age of 31. At first studying at JCU was very challenging because I had experienced over 13 years of ‘freedom’ from school, and English is not my mother tongue. So studying in English was the most difficult part for me. But even though I was one of the oldest students at university, JCU made me feel at home. When I had problems, my friends and professors always helped me and encouraged me. I loved the fact that the JCU community is made up of such a diverse group of races, cultures, and backgrounds.
After my first year, I was placed on academic probation because I wasn’t doing well in school. I had sleeping problems, began missing classes, and this affected my grades. I got very depressed and went to talk to my advisor, Professor Arnone, about my thoughts about dropping out. He encouraged me and helped me realize that I not only wanted to prove I could do it to my parents and friends, but that I also needed to prove it to myself. This is one of the nicest memories I have from JCU, because professors here see you as more than just another student: they see you as a person.
I graduated one month ago and I am beyond happy. I’m forever grateful to my parents, my professors and my friends who supported me these past four years. On graduation, when the principal called my name, I got overwhelmed couldn’t hold in an exclamatory “I DID IT!”. Walking across the stage to collect my diploma was one of the proudest moments in my life. I am proof that it is never too late to get an education.
I am very fortunate to have gotten a job as a translator and content writer in Malta. My office is right on the seafront, and I still cannot believe it! Sometimes I feel as if I have to pinch my cheeks to wake up from this dream. The life I have here is all because of what JCU has given me. Without my degree in communications, I would not be sitting here in my office looking at the sea working as a translator and content writer. Thanks to JCU, I can actually say: “I did it! I got a dream job!”