Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
A non-traditional learning environment
GIGA student Korry Luke says that in high school, he wasn’t a “good student”—at least, not in the traditional sense.
The Environment and Information Studies major, who is from the United States, says in high school he was less focused on grades and more on “project-based, hands-on learning.”
That led Korry’s college counselor to suggest that SFC might be the perfect fit.
“And, in a lot of ways, it has been,” reports the third-year student.
Under the umbrella of the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Korry came to GIGA with the goal of studying cybersecurity and computer science, and the program’s varied curriculum has allowed him to approach the topics from both the technical and policy side. He’s now focused on web application security, an increasingly important field.
After three years in the GIGA program, Korry, who comes from the melting pot of Hawaii, has come to see that SFC has a melting pot of its own.
“It’s very much a diverse place. Even within the Keio system itself, I feel like it’s very different, even in the way people interact on an everyday basis.”
For example, Korry notes, SFC students tend to focus less on the kind of upper vs. lowerclassman hierarchy that’s a staple of many academic institutions in Japan.
“It’s also a more forgiving environment,” he adds.“It’s okay to make mistakes.”
That includes, he notes, entering the program intending to study one thing, then switching to something totally different, as many of his friends have done.
Scholarship plus mentorship
Aside from its flexible, hands-on learning style, Korry was also attracted to SFC because of its variety of scholarships.
“University is a big investment of time and money,” says Korry, “I wanted to be able to go to school without worrying too much about debt after graduation.”
Another big factor was the ease with which students could apply for scholarships.
“Keio’s application process is significantly shorter than most universities in the U.S.,” says Korry, because “you submit the [scholarship] application with your admissions application.”
Upon successfully being admitted to SFC, Korry was awarded GIGA’s Mentor Mitakai Scholarship for International Students. This is given to selected hard working students who display an aptitude for and interest in advanced information technology and policy, and seek to contribute to the global society using their acquired knowledge and skills.
Korry says the scholarship covers a “significant amount” of his costs.
“I’ve been able to worry less about daily finances. It provides some peace of mind.”
But the Mentor Mitakai Scholarship is about more than just funding. Recipients gather with the donors of the scholarship, a group of Keio graduates, for regular dinners and social events in order to catch up, check in and build their professional networks.
“They’re very supportive of us and encourage us to form our own community.”
Like a microcosm of the SFC campus itself, says Korry, the recipients of the scholarship “are a very diverse group.”
“Right now, I’m probably one of the only people doing computer science-related work. There’s a lot of people who are doing policy management or business.”
The scholarship also pairs students with mentors, most of whom have Keio connections. They give the students advice and feedback on their studies.
“It’s definitely a mentorship group. It’s an investment in current students and their future. One of my friends, for example, has gotten advice on founding a start-up, and about how business in Japan works.”
Participating in this mentor scholarship program has given Korry a sense of how robust the bonds are between former and current Keio students:
“The Keio community is very strong.”
It takes a certain type of student, notes Korry, to be successful at SFC. Unlike a more traditional university, which tracks progress from course to course, “SFC is very focused on your graduation project, and what you do in a project-based way,” which means students need self-reliance, a goal and drive.
Motivated students, he says, are able to achieve what they want: “For people who are interested, and have a sense of the kind of future they want, SFC is definitely a good place.”
Korry offers one more piece of advice for high school students thinking about SFC: thanks to the program’s relatively straightforward application process, those on the fence about applying should, in his words, “just go for it.”
Note: Titles, affiliations, student years, etc. indicated for individuals are accurate at the time of January 2018.