Student Bios



Hello! My name is Nobuyuki Furuta (Bambi). I am 20 years old and currently a sophomore at Soka University of America. I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. I am fortunate to be part of this Learning Cluster because it gives me a great opportunity to change my attitude toward media. Before I took this course and learned media literacy, I was very passive and just accepted what I saw in TV. Through this class, however, I realized that it is important to analyze the contents of broadcasts in order to understand what is really happening in this world. Visiting Tijuana and interviewing local people will definitely enhance my understanding of the media and democratization.


Hi! My name is Elissa Park and I am from Porter Ranch, CA. I am currently a first year student at Soka University of America, concentrating in International Studies. Due to my family background, I am extremely interested in Latin American studies and Spanish. During high school, I had the opportunity to study how current events connected to the past, future, and different things going on in the present. This led me to study media on various levels, ranging from the use of symbols such as tank man to the utilization of social networking by Ai Wei Wei. I also learned the interconnection between media and democracy and gained a deep interest in these themes. .

Hello. My name is Tomohiro Miyoshi. I was born and raised in Osaka, Japan, and I am currently a sophomore at SUA. I love to watch and play soccer. As for this Learning Cluster, I am particularly interested in what is the meaning of democracy for Latin American people. In my freshman year, I learned  that many Latin American countries had long suffered from military dictatorship before achieving democracy, which is very different from Japanese democracy. This experience inspired me to explore the meaning of democracy. So through this opportunity to learn about Latin America, I want to deepen my understanding of what it means to be a democratic country.


My name is Yuta Maezono and my friends call me Zonzon. I am from Japan, and a sophomore studying at Soka University of America. I am excited to be part of this “Media and Democracy” class because this class is a precious opportunity for me to study politics in Latin America. In the future I want to be in the important position in the world economy or politics and greatly contribute myself to this society. 

Stuart Adams is originally from Berkeley, California, and is now a Junior at Soka University of America. He has worked both within the California Assembly and as a community organizer for organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center. He is interested in the use of media as a tool for social movements and community organization. Stuart would like to see the Internet remain an open and equal space for media access and creation.

Hi, I’m Yoko Taguchi and currently a sophomore at Soka University. I’m really excited to be a part of this learning cluster because we focus on a crucial isuue in this world. Our topic, Media and Democracy in Latin America, is reagarding both modern and historical issues. It’s complex and even painful to discuss the “memories,” but I found it’s necessary to shed a light on this painful issue. Before I take this course, I had no idea about Latin America; however, it now fascinates my mind. I really appreciate this opportunity and want to learn as much as I can.


Hi there! I am Si Min Chew, currently a first year student at Soka University of America. I was born and raised in the island city-state of Singapore in Southeast Asia. Growing up, the media industry in Singapore was small and limited, though this is partly because of our small population of 5 million people. It wasn’t until our family had cable TV when I was 13 that I started to watch more TV shows and channels from China, Taiwan and the U.S. Freedom of expression is also restricted in part in Singapore, and I was one of those succumbing to the belief of the dis-empowered individual who can’t be heard. Taking this learning cluster about media and democratization. however, makes me realize the power of the media platform in this new digital age and how closely media and democracy are now intertwined, and how important it is for citizens to actively participate in a democracy. 

Hi! My name is Luis Herrera and I am a third year student at Soka University of America. I decided to take this learning cluster because I am interested in investigating and researching the influence media has on the many aspects of Latin American society. Politics in Latin American countries have been highly influenced by the many forms of media, leading to the establishment of many dictatorships during the 1970s. Today, the media continues to have a large impact in Latin America, especially in the process of democratization. Being of Mexican descent, it is also interesting to learn about how the media plays a large role in Mexico with the chaos that is currently taking place in the country. 




Hi! My name is Cassidy Lavigne, I am from the Bay Area in Northern California and I am currently a freshman at Soka University.  I am so excited to be a part of this learning cluster because media and politics interest me. I am quickly learning that analyzing different governments and how they connect with their people is becoming something I am passionate about. I traveled to Mexico for a service trip my senior year of high school, and I am eager to visit again and absorb as much information and knowledge as I can. ​


iQué onda! I’m Hideto Akasu. I am currently a sophomore at Soka University of America. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, I have had many opportunities to notice the diversity of so many different kinds of cultures since I came to the US. Among many cultures, what interests me the most was Latin American culture. As taking Spanish language class in our university, I got to know not only the language but also the history, culture, and people’s lives in those Latin American countries. Having been thinking about entertainment business for my future carrier, media and politics are the very fields of study that I want to get familiar with. Especially, now, the influence of media on social movements is becoming something that we can’t ignore. We, as participants of democratic society, need to be aware that we are responsible for making a better world.

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