Elijah Joki receives Boren Scholarship

CMU sophomore will study language and culture in Japan for 10 weeks

| Author: Maureen Harke | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

Elijah Joki, a sophomore from L’Anse, MI, majoring in information technology, has been awarded a prestigious Boren Scholarship to study language and culture at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.  

Photo of Boren Scholar Elijah JokiGrowing up in a small village of less than 1,900 people at the southern base of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s upper peninsula provided Joki access to some of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls, forests and wildlife. However, it was a bit more challenging to find high school opportunities for language learning.

“I saw a list of languages on a government website and Japanese was listed as one of the most difficult to learn. So, because I enjoy a challenge, Japanese is the language I chose to learn,” Joki said. 

“L’Anse High School offered only a couple of in-person language classes, so I had to take Japanese through the high school’s online programs,” he said. “Independent study was a bit of a struggle at first, but I developed a schedule that I stuck to, and I asked for help when I needed it.”

Joki’s determination was a theme throughout his educational experiences. 

“The small-town experience provided opportunities like career and technical education classes to explore different career choices, but they required an extra hour on a bus each day,” Joki said. “I took cybersecurity classes five days a week in my senior year. These classes reaffirmed my passion for learning about computers and technology.”

A visit to a friend who was attending CMU led to a love for CMU’s campus, and receiving an academic merit scholarship sealed his decision to come to CMU. He continued to study Japanese with Maiko Bronson, a faculty member in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, and he began looking for opportunities to have an immersive experience.

“I have never been outside of the country. Professor Bronson brought culture into our Japanese classes, and now I am excited to go to Japan and actually experience the language and culture firsthand,” he said.

Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, support students who wish to work in the federal national security arena. The awards provide funding for U.S. students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests.

Joki worked with Maureen Harke, director of the CMU National Scholarship Program throughout the application process and with Marko Schubert, assistant director of Study Abroad, to build a study abroad program. 

Joki plans to pursue a career in information technology and work in U.S. federal government. He is grateful for the support he has received throughout his education. 

“I could not be where I am today without the support of my friends and family,” he said. “They have encouraged me through tough times, and to go above and beyond what I thought I was capable of achieving.”

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