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Student Success Stories - Koki Nomura


SCC graduate Koki Nomura has taken his education to the other side of the world and back.

Born in Japan, Nomura moved to East Orange, N.J. when he was 21 years old to study the English language. When Nomura told his teacher that he hoped to continue his education at a small, suburban college, his teacher directed him to SCC.  “She said SCC would fulfill my hopes. I was very fortunate to have had such a caring teacher at the beginning of my new life in America,” said Nomura.

Nomura’s decision to focus his education at a small college paid off.  “Let’s put it this way,” Nomura said, “If I had chosen a Japanese college, my English skills would have been very limited. If I had come to the United States and chosen a big, urban college, I might have been lost and my English skills might not have improved,” Nomura said. “I did choose SCC, and SCC gave me a lot.”

And that it did. Developmental English courses at SCC helped take Nomura’s reading and writing skills to the next level.  He recalls English Professor William Borda teaching him how to write news stories, for which he quickly became passionate. Nomura took a journalism course and eagerly wrote articles for The Oak Leaf under the tutelage of Mary Rodgers, to whom he affectionately refers as a “natural born educator.” Nomura said about Rodgers, “She was the one who helped me succeed at SCC and in America. She was like my big, artistic sister!”  

In addition, the friendly nature of his then-English tutor Barbara Nixon, now Assistant Professor of Developmental English, is the reason why he still calls a nice smile a “Mrs. Nixon Smile.”  Nomura said he is still in contact with some of his SCC instructors and added, “Those caring professors I had at SCC are still encouraging me to become more passionate about teaching.”

After Nomura graduated from SCC in 1990, he returned to Japan to work as an interpreter. In 1993, he enrolled at the University of North Florida, but soon moved back to Japan.  While working as a full-time high school English teacher, Nomura earned his bachelor’s degree at a Japanese college. He turned his dream of becoming a college professor into a reality and went on to earn his master’s degree in English from Hokkaido University of Education in Asahikawa, Japan in 2001. Three years later, he completed his Ph.D., studying English and American literature at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan in 2004.

Since 2001, Nomura has published several journal articles in both Japan and the United States, as well as seven critical essays on the life and work of American novelists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tim O’Brien.

“It has been a long journey,” said Nomura. “But there is no end to learning, is there? It seems like the more I know, the more I realize how little I know. We should be different. We should find something to live for. Above all, we should have fun and contribute to our society at the same time,” he said.

Nomura now lives in his hometown, Asahikawa, the second-largest city of Hokkaido, Japan, known for Japan’s most famous zoo. He teaches English and American literature at several colleges. A self-proclaimed “journalist a heart,” Nomura has just finished writing a short story about the Ainu, the indigenous people of his land who were forced to assimilate into modern-day Japanese culture.

“I always wanted to master the English language, and it all started with my experience at SCC,” Nomura said. SCC fed my hunger for knowledge. SCC made me a scholar.”