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Alumni Highlights

Connor Murphy

BA in International Studies, Asia Area Focus
Minors in Asian Studies & Chinese

In 2011, I graduated from the University of Colorado, where I obtained a minor in both Chinese and Asian studies. Using my experiences studying at UNC, and taking advantage of opportunities to study abroad in both China and Taiwan, I have since found many opportunities to utilize my knowledge and language skills in my professional life. Since graduating, I have worked with a Chinese tour provider, China Travel and Tour, where I am able to use my Chinese language skills on a daily basis. Additionally, I now spend 4 months out of the year living, studying, working, and traveling across China, further improving my understanding of the Chinese language, and gaining invaluable work experience abroad. On top of the employment opportunities provided from Chinese/Asian studies, the academic knowledge I gathered throughout my time at UNC has provided me with the inspiration and resources to continue my studies, as I plan to go into graduate studies. Without the invaluable knowledge I gained from the Asian Studies/Chinese program at UNC, none of this would have been possible.

Of course, aside from the professional and educational aspects of obtaining my degree, I definitely cannot ignore the fact that studying Asian Studies and Chinese at UNC was incredibly interesting, fun, and opened up many doors for adventure. Since studying at UNC, I have traveled and lived across Asia, across China, Tibet, Taiwan, and Thailand. Finally, through studying at UNC and abroad with Asian studies, I have gathered a network of friends and colleagues which spans across the globe, and have gathered stories and memories which will last a lifetime.

Matthew Kennedy

BA in International Studies and Economics
Minors in Chinese, Spanish, Asian Studies

My name is Matthew Kennedy. I graduated with honors from UNC with an International Studies and Economics double major with three minors in Chinese, Spanish and Asian Studies. After graduating, I looked for a government job in Washington DC, and after talking to many government officials, I decided the best way to continue traveling the world while pursuing my career in government would be to join the Peace Corps, an international organization the US funds to assist developing countries.

I am currently stationed in Madagascar in a small village named Mahasoabe as a Health Volunteer. My primary assignment includes monthly trainings with the local community health workers who live in the surrounding villages about different health issue such as water sanitation, prenatal nutrition, malaria care and prevention, family planning, and HIV Prevention. I work with many Non-Profits and Non-Government Organizations such as USAID, Operation Smile, Marie Stopes and many other groups to achieve our goals.  Currently, my main project is building latrines in each of the surrounding villages. I hope to build one at each of the community health workers home, where they also care for the members of their community, that way they can also use it as a teaching resource. When I have free time I try to hold English clubs and go to other volunteer’s sites for big events, these have ranged from sporting events with speeches to towns on water sanitation to having festivals that demonstrate how to properly use and care for mosquito nets.

Brian Zielenski

BA History, BA Political Science
Minor in Asian Studies

Brian Zielenski studied both Chinese and Japanese as an undergraduate at UNC. During his time as an undergraduate, he went abroad to teach English in China with ORBIS. He decided to pursue a graduate degree in History, and stayed at UNC for an MA in World History. He went abroad again as a Master’s student, this time to Taiwan to the International Chinese Language Program in Taipei. His MA thesis focuses on historical memory and the retelling of the Yellow Turban Rebellion that led to the fall of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) and beginning of the famous Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history. He used his modern and classical Chinese extensively in his research and translation of the historical and fictional texts from the 3rd, 5th, 11th and 16th centuries in China.

Jonathan Rasson

BA in History
Minor in Asian Studies

Jonathan Rasson studied Japanese at UNC, and minored in Asian Studies. During his time at UNC, he participated in the Guy Healy English Summer Camp Internship program in Japan. After graduation, he was selected to teach in the JET program. He says, "When I came here, knowing the little bit of Japanese I knew helped immensely with day to day living. In addition every tidbit I had learned on the history and culture of Japan has proved of immense help in getting to know local people."

Tyler Damon

BA in International Studies, Asian Focus major
Minor in Asian Studies 
China study abroad participant

Tyler Damon was an International Studies Major with a minor in Asian Studies. After graduation he worked in Seoul, South Korea teaching English at Chungdahm Learning for two years.

In 2011 he started a Master’s degree in International Affairs at the George Washington University. In fall, 2012, he did an internship with the State Department in Washington D.C. He also studied abroad in China for a year in 2007 and the summer of 2012. Both experiences were eye-opening and Chinese-improving.

Anna Williams

BA in Anthropology, Cultural Studies Focus
China study abroad Summer trip

Anna Williams was an anthropology major who studied Chinese language during her senior year.  The summer after graduation, she participated in the China study abroad program offered at UNC and learned a great deal about Chinese language and culture, and also about herself.  Anna also served for a period of time as the administrative assistant for the World Languages and Cultures Department here at UNC.