Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad

Connect with Former Fellows

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The Light Fellowship Student Advisory Committee (SAC) was founded in 2007 by a group of Light Fellows returning to campus after their time abroad, eager to share their experiences with peers, encourage other students to seek the same opportunity, and give back to the Light Fellowship Program.  

Reach out to one of the SAC members below if you are interested in speaking to a former Fellow about applying to the Light Fellowship, choosing a program, spending a term or year abroad, or have general questions about the Light Fellowship experience and studying abroad in East Asia!

Tip: Contact the Light Fellowship office:

  • If you are interested in speaking to a recent Fellow with similar academic or career interests or who did a particular program or term abroad not represented below.
  • If you have questions or concerns about how your race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, language, disability, religion, or other identity considerations may impact your experience abroad and are unsure which SAC member to speak to.

We would be happy to share resources and put you in touch with former Fellows who are willing to share their experience and insights into these important considerations.

SAC Members


Elyse Thomas

BA
Ethnicity
Race
& Migration Studies
2025

Award Details

Summer
2022
No

SAC Details

Language Officer
2023-2024

In Summer 2022, I studied abroad with CET Japan in Osaka! Studying abroad enabled me to advance my Japanese and to build community with Japanese speakers after my first year of language classes at Yale. From traveling to different cities each weekend to attending summer festivals, I will always cherish my summer in Japan (いい思い出がたくさんあります!) , and I owe my immersion in Japanese language, culture, and society to the Light Fellowship. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or would like to talk more about Japan!


Cindy Liu

BA
Art
2026

Award Details

SAC Details

2023-2024

My name is Cindy Liu, and I am a Light Fellowship Summer 2023 recipient. I was able to spend my summer abroad in Tokyo at the Sun Academy Nihongo Program, a program specifically made for Yale students! I discovered my favorite Japanese cuisine (dango and cold udon), watched fireworks with new friends through the Japanese buddy system, consistently challenged myself adhering to the language pledge, and developed a love for discovering Ikigai (reason for living) through Japanese arts. If you have any questions about the Light Fellowship, Sun Academy, or your first trip to Japan, feel free to reach out to me!


Hannah Lothian

BA
Mechanical Engineering
2024

Award Details

Summer
2020
No
Summer
2022
No

SAC Details

Language Officer
2023-2024

Howdy I'm Hannah, a junior in Branford and I studied Japanese remotely in the summer of 2020. The Light Fellowship really gave me the chance to put my language study into perspective. At PII we were able to talk to program alums who had continued their study in Japanese, and one of the best pieces of advice they gave was, "Your reasons for studying will change along the way." I started taking Japanese because I thought it was interesting, now I find myself invested in Japanese culture to the point where I'm really considering pursuing a graduate program or career in Japan! If you have questions about PII - and how it was online - feel free to reach out to me!


Natsume Wu

BA
Chemistry
2026

Award Details

SAC Details

Japanese Language Representative
2023-2024

Hi! I'm Natsume, and I'm a sophomore in Davenport! I studied at SANC (Sun Academy Nihongo Center) in Tokyo during Summer 2023. From the amazing teachers and new friends I made, to the endless variety of places and experiences I got to explore in Tokyo, I couldn't have asked for a better summer! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


Jaxon Havens

BA
2025

Award Details

Summer
2022
No

SAC Details

Japanese Language Representative
2023-2024

Hello! My name is Jaxon Havens and I am a sophomore in Trumbull College. My intended major is History and I hope to go for the certificate in Japanese. I was a Light Fellow in the 2022 Summer through the CET-Japan program at Osaka Gakuin University. It was a truly life-changing experience and I am incredibly grateful for how I have progressed in both my study of Japanese and in my understanding of myself as a multiethnic person in an increasingly globalized world. I would love to talk all about Light, applying to programs, adjusting to life in Japan, and studying Japanese at Yale, so do not hesitate to reach out. 頑張りましょう!


James Richardson

BA
Ethics
Politics
and Economics and East Asian Studies
2025

Award Details

Academic Year
2022-2023
No

SAC Details

Japanese Language Representative
2023-2024

Hi! My name is James and I spent the 2022-23 academic year at International Christian University through the Middlebury in Japan program as a Light Fellow. As I am a heritage speaker of Japanese, this program's heritage track courses really helped me hone my language skills. Outside of the classroom, I was able to travel a lot and see so much of the country. I also have great memories of campus life, as I was able to make many friends in my dorm and on the school's basketball team. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions!


Tan Yi Tseung

BA
History
2025

Award Details

Summer
2021
No

SAC Details

2023-2024

Hi! My name is Tan Yi and I’m a history major with a passion for learning new languages. I started Japanese L1 my first semester at Yale and attended the CET-Japan virtual program during the summer after my freshman year. I then took a gap year to study at Nanzan University in Nagoya after finishing my sophomore year. Not only did I improve my Japanese tremendously through living with a host family but I also made many friends from all over the world. I learned to value human relationships more and to take risks and tried new hobbies such as swimming and hip-hop dance! I had such a blast thanks to Light Fellowship’s generous support and I would love to give back by connecting with prospective and future Fellows!


Ernestina Hsieh

BA
Architecture
2024

Award Details

Summer
2021
No
Spring
2020
No

SAC Details

Japanese Language Representative
2023-2024

Hi! I’m Ernestina. I’m a junior in Davenport College majoring in Architecture. I started learning Japanese at Yale in L1, and have since studied with Hokkaido International Foundation (in-person), Princeton in Ishikawa (remote), and CET-Osaka (remote). Living in Japan gave me a glimpse of how language shapes a culture's way of life, and online classes introduced me to wonderful teachers and lifelong friends. In terms of architecture, much of my design inspiration comes from Japan and Scandinavia! I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to speak with Japanese architects/urban planners


Dean Centa

BA
Global Affairs & East Asian Studies
2025

Award Details

SAC Details

2023-2024

Hello!! My name is Dean Kenichiro Centa and I am a junior in Jonathan Edwards College studying Global Affairs and East Asian Studies. During the 2022-2023 year, I studied abroad at Nanzan University in Nagoya studying Intensive Japanese!! I have grown up with Japanese culture my whole life because of my half-Japanese background, but being able to live and learn there for a whole year was a dream come true thanks to the Light Fellowship. During my year in Japan, I got to spend lots of time with my family, travel the entire country, and even watch Shohei Ohtani in-person at the Tokyo Dome for the 2023 World Baseball Classic. If there is anything you want to know about life in Japan, the Light Fellowship, or anything at all, feel free to reach out!


Mason Abrell

BA
Physics and Global Affairs
2025

Award Details

Summer
2023
No

SAC Details

Japanese Language Representative
2023-2024

Hey I’m Mason! I studied abroad in Japan with the Princeton in Ishikawa program and had an incredible time. While there I continued practicing kendo as well as learnt more about renewable energy in Japan. If you have any questions about PII or study abroad in Japan, don’t hesitate to reach out!