Ten years ago, Megan Ryle departed on her inaugural trip to Japan after receiving a Freeman Award for Study in Asia. From 2001 through the 2013 academic year, Freeman-ASIA supported 4,500 U.S. undergraduates from more than 600 institutions with their study abroad plans in East and Southeast Asia. Freeman-ASIA provides need-based funding to assist recipients with the cost of the study abroad program and related expenses. Megan attended Kansai Gaidai University, a private university in Hirakata, Osaka, Japan where she participated in a homestay and a speaking partner program. Afterwards, Megan returned to the University of Kentucky and completed her Bachelor’s in International Studies specializing in Japanese Language and Culture in 2008. To this day, Megan still keeps in contact with her host family and international friends.
Her knowledge of Japanese language and culture has been a unique asset throughout her career, especially when working within the U.S.-Japan security relationship. With the U.S. Department of Defense, she coordinated efforts and promoted proactive engagement with partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific, encouraged U.S. access to global cutting-edge technologies, and promoted relationships with domestic and international industries. Furthermore, Megan prepared and led an unprecedented strategic guidance document that now leads international cooperative efforts throughout the Department of Defense. In 2013, Megan was awarded a Letter for Excellence in the U.S.-Japan Negotiations. Her work was beneficial to the interaction between senior Department of Defense officials and their Japanese counterparts, and she was formally recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for exemplary contributions to both governments. Her work supported the talking points used by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her meetings with the Japanese Foreign Minister.
Currently, Megan leads publicity for all of the Embassy of Japan in D.C.'s public events through the Japan Information and Culture Center. She recently coordinated the Embassy's involvement in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the nation's annual month-long celebration honoring the lasting friendship between the U.S. and Japan. She wrote that she would not have been able to study in Japan ten years ago if she did not receive a Freeman Award for Study in Asia: “Raised in suburban Kentucky, it was almost unheard of to travel to Asia. Having the financial support to fulfill my life-long dream of studying in Japan opened doors to the most incredible opportunities! Thanks to my experience in Japan, I have ended up on a English/Japanese educational reality show in Hawaii, landed a gig at a video game research firm in San Diego, managed challenging Asia-Pacific strategy for high-level Department of Defense officials in the nation's capital, and now lead the Embassy of Japan in D.C.'s public involvement in cultural diplomacy.” IIE is pleased to announce that the Freeman-ASIA program has been reopened and is currently accepting applications.
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