Finding Your Way To Grad School

What is your objective going to be if you go to graduate school? Gain a new skill or more knowledge? Make a shift in your career path? There are as many reasons as there are people, but the decision is not easy to make.

It wasn’t easy at all for me either. I have been a reporter in my home country of Japan for more than twenty years already. I loved my job, but I knew that I couldn’t keep doing it forever.

As an employee, I don’t have a choice if my boss tells me to transfer to another job, and it seems like my options became fewer and fewer as I got older. I have always been skeptical about this “tradition.”

I wanted to be a reporter and tried so hard to get this position, but soon after I gained some experience and finally reached the point where I could pick whatever topic I wanted and write, I have to give up doing it?

Is there only one way to live as an employee journalist? No, there should be more options.

When this question arose in me, I fell on the street and tore my left foot ligament. I had to be on crutches for a month. It was a difficult time for me, as I couldn’t go anywhere for my interviews. Then I noticed one thing: I barely see fellow journalists on crutches or in wheelchairs, at least in my country, Japan. Why is that?

Being on crutches caused me many inconveniences. Still, I learned a lot, such as how accessibility is limited in the city infrastructure and the system is not designed for people like me. I realized how shallow an article I had been writing about accessibility till then. Then I thought it was my obligation to deliver this new perspective. We need more diverse people to provide more varied perspectives in our stories.

So, I started seeking a new way of working and being a journalist. I want to find a different form other than the traditional, one-track path. I also wanted to expand my skill and knowledge to adjust to the change in the media industry. These ideas were what brought me here.

I don’t know the situation in other countries, but in my country, Japan, it’s rare to make a pivot in your life, especially at my age and career. When I sought pieces of advice for my plan from other people, some of them opposed vigorously, saying, “Why do you abandon your career?” or “Do you ever think how old you are? Does it make sense to learn something new now?” I was shocked when I heard these reactions. Why do they ask me those kinds of questions? Of course, my answers are that I am not abandoning my career; instead, I want to expand it in a new way. That is why I am trying to shift my life. And age wouldn’t be an excuse not to meet a new challenge. Even now, I still get this kind of reaction, and I never get used to it. It hurts. But anyway, I try to focus on the present and the future, not on the past as they are.

Of course, I was scared when I made a pivot. It has been a long time since I made my big decision and I am too used to having the same life every day. Every time I felt fear, all I did was to keep asking myself the same questions. What if I fail? What if I ended up not being able to expand myself at all or not being wanted in any place? Do I want to do this? For what reason do I want to do it? What is my fire to keep moving? Those are pretty essential questions, but I need to ask myself to confirm my will deep down inside again and again.

I still do this when I feel lost, just going back to the basics, the origin where I started it. And if my passion hasn’t changed, I tell myself, “Yes, I am on the right track. I am alright.”

So, I am here at Syracuse, studying with venerable, inspiring professors and classmates. I am determined to make the best use of every chance I meet here.

Asako Takaguchi is a graduate student in the new media management program at the Newhouse School.