History student finds her calling in Japan

Bella May studying in the library

As Bella May ’22 (Mentor, Ohio) prepares to graduate from Marietta College in December, she is also staring at an exciting future living in Japan.

“I actually plan on teaching English as a second language in Japan,” she said. “This is something that I have always wanted to do.”

This career path was not on the History major’s radar until a conversation she had with her advisor, Dr. Matt Young, Professor of History.

“When I found out I was graduating early my sophomore year, I instantly panicked. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree, with my career, as I had just changed my major/minor for the third time,” May said. “Dr. Young had taught in China, and he brought this up during our advising meeting and actually encouraged me to look into teaching English abroad.”

May, who will earn a minor in Asian Studies, has applied to the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program), which is her top choice. The program is done through contracting organizations in cooperation with the Japanese Government.

“The JET program prides itself on cultural exchange, which was one of the big things I was searching for,” May said. “If chosen for this experience, I would be a cultural ambassador for the U.S., all while being able to explore Japan and its culture. This is a live/work experience, as I would be dispatched to a certain city, town, or village in order to work within their public school system as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).”

Young is proud that May will pursue her dream of teaching in Japan.

“It is such a great option for any student who wants to live in a different culture because of the global interest in learning English, especially American English,” he said. “Living and working in a country provides a unique window into the culture, and she’ll have the opportunity to get to know Japanese from all walks of life. I look forward to getting updates from her, and I’d love to see more MC students follow in her footsteps.”

May is one of more than 60 students who will graduate on Sunday, December 11th. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center.

May got some work experience over the summer as an intern with The Castle Historic House Museum in Marietta, and she helped plan the annual History Camp for students entering third through sixth grade. She was also awarded the Sally S. Evans Civic Engagement Internship Scholarship.

“I was the first intern they have ever had for the History Camp,” May said. “My main goal was to use what I knew from being a HOME Leader and an EXCEL Leader at the College and transfer that knowledge to the camp in order to help them have a great experience. I started by creating an orientation for chosen camp counselors (seventh through 12th graders), which consisted of organizing a full orientation schedule and creating a guidebook for them. I also took their feedback and processed that for future camps.”

May have nothing but praise for the department’s faculty.

“Marietta College has prepared me in many ways, and I truly owe it to this college for helping me become the person I am today,” the McDonough Scholar said. “I have learned so much within the courses I took for my History degree, and I feel it has prepared me with the knowledge I need to explore the world and truly understand life around me. They also are genuinely great people who will help you with anything, as they want the best for their students.”