Sho Akamine is the graduate student of distinction from the Department of Linguistics.
Raised in a family where no one graduated from high school, Akamine pursued a bachelor’s degree and a post-baccalaureate degree as a first-generation student.
“Being the first undergraduate student in the family involved difficulties due to a lack of understanding from most of my family, who insisted that I drop out of college and work full-time instead of remaining in school and working part-time,” said Akamine. “However, I never stopped believing in the value of education and devoting myself to studying the relationship between the mind and language.”
According to Akamine, pursuing a master’s degree in a foreign country is difficult, but it was significantly more difficult during the pandemic. Except for the first two months, he attended class online from Japan. Due to the time difference, his classes were held overnight, and he often had to stay awake until 7 a.m. Still, he was able to participate in many academics and extracurricular activities.
“Given the horrible time difference, Sho often had to attend classes or meetings at odd hours from Japan often after his exhausting part-time job shifts, but he never missed or was late for any classes or meetings,” said Dr. Jidong Chen, professor of linguistics. “The negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic did not hinder Sho from overcoming the adversities to pursue his passion for learning and science. Sho is simply an outstanding student and a promising young psycholinguist!”
Akamine’s academic work focuses on how the human brain stores and processes whatever languages run on the cortical software – work that began when he was an undergraduate in Okinawa. By the time he received his master’s degree in December, he completed six conference posters and three international conference talks. His work, “The effective modality-based second language vocabulary acquisition strategy,” presented at the International Symposium on Education and Psychology in Fukuoka, Japan, won a distinguished paper award.
“Sho was instrumental in getting the [conference] website, submissions, letters of acceptance, and so on up and running smoothly. He also reviewed a number of abstracts and is currently editing the two dozen talks in the conference proceedings,” Dr. Chris Golston, professor of Linguistics, said.
“After fostering my continued development and my ability to contribute to the field of cognitive and psycholinguistics in the Ph.D. program, I desire to achieve my goals of becoming both a researcher and an educator charged with communicating to students the fascination of the associations between language and the mind,” Akamine said.