Rose Adams is graduating this year with a degree in international relations (IR). While she was initially interested in studying East Asian studies when she first arrived at Stanford, she chose to declare IR because of the flexibility of the interdisciplinary major. “IR let me take all of the history and culture classes on East Asia that I wanted, but it also forced me to go outside my comfort zone a little and get the politics and economics that I needed for context,” Rose explained.
Within the major, Rose’s primary specialization was East and South Asia, and her secondary specialization was international security. She is specifically interested in studying North Korean affairs, an interest that was sparked when she took the course EASTASN 189K: Politics, Economics, and Society in North Korea. “This class was by no means my first introduction to North Korea, but it was the class that caused me to pivot from my focus on Japan. The professor, Andray Abrahamian, was the first person I'd met who had worked in and with the DPRK, and he opened my eyes up to possibility of making my ‘side passion’ into a feasible career. Since that class, he's become a mentor to me,” she said.
Rose had the opportunity to conduct research in South Korea during her time at Stanford. Looking back on that experience, one moment especially stands out. “On my way to Korea, I'd made friends with a young girl next to me on the plane, and before I left the country, she invited me to meet her family for dinner. What followed was the strangest convergence of all my studies. We met in a Chinese restaurant, and the girl's mother didn't speak English, but she spoke Japanese, so we spoke back and forth in a triangle of English, Japanese, and Korean. We'd met in Korea, bonded over Chinese food, and—for the mother and I—became close through a common language of Japanese. It's the moment that I realized that my interests and studies might have narrowed, but that all of the small, seemingly extraneous things I'd learned ‘for fun’ along the way were still incredibly valuable,” she shared.
She is most proud of the fact that she “left as few stones unturned as possible” and maintained an open mindset throughout her undergraduate career. “I came into Stanford with a set idea of what I liked, and it would have been easy to get tunnel vision,” she said. “Instead, I took classes in completely unrelated fields, joined clubs to cover topics my studies couldn't, and took whatever opportunities I could lay hands on. I'm proud to say I don't have any regrets about things I should have done but passed up on.”
Over the past four years, she participated on the fencing team and was a member of both the Japanese Student Union and the Taiwanese Cultural Society. She also presented twice at the Listen to the Silence Conference, a student-organized meeting at Stanford on Asian American issues, on the topics of Asian American media representation and the LGBTQ+ movement in Taiwan. Most recently, she served as a member of the hospitality committee for the conference, helping coordinate logistics, catering services, and accommodations for participants traveling to campus.
This year, she also wrote a thesis on the North Korean media coverage of the Trump-Kim summit, and compared it to the Chinese coverage of the Nixon-Mao summit. She is currently submitting the paper to the Journal of Peace and Unification as a co-authored piece with her PI.
Next year, Rose is looking forward to returning to Stanford to pursue a master’s degree in East Asian studies, with a concentration on North Korea and propaganda. She says her degree in international relations has played a valuable role in helping her prepare to conduct graduate level research. “I'm grateful to my professors for challenging me to come up with more creative methodologies, like applying literary analysis or historical research methods to IR and political science papers. Going into my graduate program, I feel confident in my ability to find unconventional sources, leverage my multilingual abilities, and conduct original research. Just as helpful, perhaps, I've built a network of professors and friends who are experts in the field and can lend me their expertise,” she shared.
Please join us in congratulating the class of 2020! As the academic year draws to a close, we are highlighting students graduating from across our 14 programs. Click here to view more student spotlights.