On April 27, 2023, faculty, staff, students and family members gathered in the Vandenberg Room of the Michigan League to celebrate our 2022-2023 graduates and awardees. The event was hosted by the Asian Languages and Cultures Department Chair, Ben Brose, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Markus Nornes, with faculty members joining to present departmental awards.


The ceremony began with a quick general greeting from Dr. Nornes to welcome parents and students to the ceremony. Dr. Brose was then invited to the stage for opening remarks about the great accomplishments of all students that were recognized. Our first awards acknowledged achivement within each of our language programs. These awardees stood out amongst their peers in both their academic and extracurricular pursuits. 


The 2023 language awards recipients were:

Chinese Language Japanese Language
Sarah Godek Jack Gisondi 
Caroline Peck Zachary Burton
South Asian Language Korean Language
Spencer Hsieh (Bengali) Thomas Choi 
Thiago Reis (Hindi) Andrea Wong
Rajmeet Kaur (Punjabi) Southeast Asian Language
Reiah Jaffer (Urdu) Jessica Suan (Filipino)
  William Harrison (Indonesian)
  Dianne Kaiyoorawongs (Thai)
  Molly Kraine (Vietnamese)
(L-R): Thomas Choi, William Harrison, Caroline Peck, Sarah Godek, Spencer Hsieh, Zachary Burton, Andrea Wong, Jack Gisondi, Jessica Suan, Dianne Kaiyoorawongs, Molly Kraine

Following the language awards, Dr. Matthew Hull took the stage to present the South Asian Language Video Awards. Sponsored by the Center for South Asian Studies, these awards were given to students who created an original video project in Hindi or Urdu. The Best Picture Award went to Zahra Bash, Iman Kadwani, and Aleezah Manzoor for the video project "Murder Mystery."

Additional departmental awards were then presented by members of the department faculty to honor hard work and passion among undergraduate and graduate students.

  • The twelfth annual Philip Thomas Lincoln, Jr. Memorial Endowment was presented by Dr. Christi Merrill to Brittany Puller, a Doctoral Candidate in Asian Languages and Cultures. This fellowship is named for a 1964 LSA graduate who was a career diplomat with the U.S. State Department from 1966 to 1996. Lincoln dedicated his life to the betterment of relations between the United States and the countries of Asia, especially China. The Lincoln Fellowship is given to one ALC graduate student a year to assist with funding a proposed research trip abroad. Brittany will be using this award to conduct archival research in the Punjab and New Delhi this summer, to benefit her proposed dissertation On the Basis of Biradari: Community and Kinship in 18th-Century Punjab. 
  • The Charles and Myrl Hucker Essay Prize is a tribute to the scholarly and collegial legacy left behind by Charles O. Hucker, a Professor of Chinese in the department from 1965-1983. It also recognizes the great support and friendship he received from his wife, Myrl. This prize is given annually for the best China-focused essay written in an Asian Languages and Cultures course. Dr. SE Kile presented this award to sophomore Shao-Chi Ou for his essay entitled Visual Experiences in Literary and Filmic Narrative Through a Three Kingdoms Lens. This essay, written for Dr. Kile's 400-level seminar on the Three Kingdoms, compares narrative perspective in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the Japanese anime Ya Boy! Kongming.
  • The sixth annual Kristin Carosella Memorial Fellowship named in honor of a 2013 graduate in Asian Studies and Anthropology who, following graduation, pursued a career teaching English to school-age children in China before her death in September 2014. Through generous donations from the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies; the Center for Japanese Studies; the Nam Center for Korean Studies; the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures; the Department of Anthropology; and the Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, this fellowship has been established in perpetuity to honor her life and to inspire other students to pursue service to others through teaching in Asia. Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Markus Nornes, presented the award to Neya Ramprasad, a recent recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. Excelling in all the qualiies essential to teaching and mentoring in her Korean language classes, Neya hopes to move to South Korea in January 2024 to teach English as a second language.

Following the presentation of awards, our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Markus Nornes, recognized the hard work of the seven students graduating from the Asian Studies major with Honors. Graduating with Honors not only requires completing the major with stellar grades, but also working closely with a faculty member to complete an Honors thesis. The 2022 ALC Honors graduates were:

  • Adrian Beyer Representations of Kathoey in Thai Boys Love Television
    • advised by Professor Reggie Jackson
  • Raphael Jeong-Hin Chin Malaysian Chinese Funeral Rituals: A Study of Special Rituals for Unnatural Death
    • advised by Professor Benjamin Brose
  • Yunseo Cho Neither Same Nor Equal: Hanbok in Zainichi Koreans and South Koreans
    • advised by Professor Se-Mi Oh
  • Reika Fujiwara Are Women to Blame for Japan's Declining Birth Rate?
    • advised by Professor Reginald Jackson
  • Grace Hennigan The Censorship and Transformation of Chinese Hip-Hop; Is Anti-Blackness to Blame?
    • advised by Professor Miranda Brown
  • Lillith Jackson A Death in the Family: Decay in Filial Piety in Taiwanese Literature
    • advised by Professor Erin Brightwell
  • Lola Yang A Queer 兔儿 : Rabbit God Narratives Across the Chinese Anglophone
    • advised by Professor Reginald Jackson
(L-R): Lillith Jackson, Adrian Beyer, Yunseo Cho, Raphael Jeong-Hin Chin, Grace Hennigan, Reika Fujiwara, Lola Yang

Twenty students graduated with an Asian Studies major in 2023, exemplifying the diverse range of academic interests represented in the many areas of study our department offers. This year's graduating class comprises of 10 Chinese studies students, 6 Japanese studies students, 3 Korean studies students, and 1 Southeast Asian studies student.

Chinese Studies Japanese Studies Korean Studies
Raphael Jeong-Hin Chin Zachary Maclean Burton Yunseo Cho
Grace Winifred Hennigan Reika A. Fujiwara Thomas Choi
Sandy Hua Lillith Simone Jackson Andrea Medina
Erik Reyna Alexandra Ioana Maxim  
Abigail Nell Schmit Kareem Rifai  
Adeline Y. Sun Ameia Wilson  
Marcus Van To Southeast Asian Studies  
Emmy Wu Adrian Percival Beyer  
Lola Yang    
John Yu-Yang Lo    

We also recognized three PhD students who defended their dissertations this year:

  • Anna Johnson The Nature of a Vow: Karma, Ritual, Lineage, and the Three Vows - Advised by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.
  • Randeep Hothi Sikhism Will Be Televised: Race, Religion and Recognition and the Making of Transnational Media Cultures - Advised by Arvind-Pal S. Mandair
  • Yihui Sheng "Peformative Reading" and "Close Listening" in Early Modern China: Chuanqi Song-Drama as Multimedia Form, 1550-1750 - Advised by SE Kile

The department elected to do a very special hooding ceremony to honor the sole PhD graduate in attendace, Yihui Sheng. Her adivsor, Dr. SE Kile, spoke of Yihui's thesis and journey completing her dissertation. Yihui will be starting a tenure-track position at the Chinese University of Hong Kong this coming fall. 

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures wishes to extend a sincere congratulations to all of our awardees and graduates this year. Thank you for taking part in this special day.