When she first began her career at Pacific University, Professor Kazuko Ikeda never expected to stay for as long as she has.
“I survived,” laughed Ikeda. “Despite the low salary.”
At the completion of her 30th year as a Japanese language professor, Ikeda will retire with fond memories and being very grateful to Pacific.
Ikeda was first asked to help get the Japanese language program off the ground at Pacific when she was a graduate student at Portland State University. She was told that only six students at the University were looking to study Japanese and she accepted the position thinking, “maybe it’ll be fun.”
And she was right.
Through hard work and dedication to Japanese language learners, Ikeda played part in the beginning of the Association for Japanese Teachers in Oregon, or the AJTO.
Such a rich history at Pacific has also allowed Ikeda to see many students graduate with a major in Japanese and even more impressive, teach her past students’ children years later.
“It was embarrassing but at the same time, it’s nice,” admitted Ikeda.
Her age has definitely played a large part in her decision to retire, according to Ikeda.
“It’s something physical,” Ikeda explained, “It’s time to pay attention to my health.”
But retirement means more than rest for Ikeda. She is excited to take more time for her hobbies, which she stated simply as, “Golf. And yoga.”
Furthermore, Ikeda is looking forward to improving her Spanish and possibly exploring more Spanish-speaking territories.
The growth Ikeda has gone through with the program she began 30 years ago has been great, not only with the department itself but also with individual students.
The Japanese department is proudly comprised of now nearly 100 students, six of which will be graduating this year, according to Ikeda.
“My career grew up, together with the program,” said Ikeda. Her greatest joy has been seeing students begin from scratch, with no knowledge of the Japanese language and finishing their Pacific career with a degree from the program.
She has laughed and interacted with many different students and said, “I may not keep up with the youth culture anymore.”
Ikeda said she will remember Pacific as a nurturing community and an overall experience that she said has “enriched [her] life.”