Ai Tajima, ’2002
Litigation associate at a law firm, Boston

Alumni Voices:

Ai Tajima

Heading into the senior year in high school, I still had not settled on what to study in college or where to apply, and time to make the decision was running out, if not already out. One day, it dawned on me that I just was not ready to pick a specialty or a career path and needed to look beyond Japanese colleges. While searching for alternatives, I found Sophia had a university within a university then called the Faculty of Comparative Culture (FCC). Liberal arts program, in English, right in Tokyo – that seemed like a perfect way to get exposure to different things, while strengthening English as a second language.

At FCC, I met a wonderful group of professors and students from all over the world, one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and interesting people to be with. For the first year or so, the curriculum focused on building core skills such as critical thinking and communication skills. As for critical thinking, until then, although math had trained me to think analytically, studying was more about repetition and memorization. Once I began scrutinizing myself, it became apparent that I did not really understand many things and needed to re-build from scratch. As for communications skills, I thought I knew how to read, write, and speak, at least in Japanese, but through writing, analytical, and public speaking exercises, I acquired a more systematic understanding.

Given that I was interested in trying out different things, I enjoyed being able to take a wide range of courses (e.g., philosophy, macroeconomics, creative writing, religious studies) before majoring in political science. Reading materials and class discussions were fascinating, and small class sizes meant that we got to know professors and classmates very well.

Around my senior year, back from a year abroad in Scotland, I thought about the next step. By then, I was comfortable with the idea of applying to graduate schools overseas, and after researching different types of graduate programs and their career trajectories, law school in the U.S. seemed like the next challenge.

Today, I am a litigation associate at a law firm in Boston. I love working in a collegial environment and untangling new factual and legal issues every day. My FCC classmates are scattered around the world and have gone into different things, but for me, law school and career in law turned out to be a natural progression of my liberal arts education and the skills developed at FCC.