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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2015)

Front Runner
- Young People Making a Difference

This feature provides in-depth introductions of current students and young graduates who perform in their field by utilizing the perspectives and abilities which they obtained while studying at Waseda University.
In the fourth installment, we spoke with Maria Okada, a first-year student at the Graduate School of Human Sciences, as well as with Hirotaka Aragaki, an employee at Shochiku Co., Ltd.

Take action and you are sure to be rewarded

Click here for profile

Maria Okada
1st-Year in the Master’s Program of Clinical Psychology,
Graduate School of Human Sciences

Maria decided to enroll at Waseda because she was attracted by how individuality is accepted at the university. Additionally, she has loved the theater since she was in junior high school, and Waseda has a prominent theater club. Maria was impressed by how Waseda has produced theater professionals such as Shoji Kokami. Although it was never her original intention, Maria found herself immersed in the theater club during her four years at the School of Human Sciences. She couldn’t resist the invitations to participate in a variety of different theatrical projects, and sometimes found herself involved in two or three performances in a single month!

“Take action and you are sure to be rewarded,” said Maria. “Even so, I often found myself so busy that I thought I was going to break down. In that respect, it was a good experience to learn my personal limits.”

Regardless, Maria never considered giving up theater. She has too much fondness for the strong and open individuality of people involved in theater. Theater also helped Maria to reflect upon her own path in life.

Scene from a performance of Doushite Mo, Maria’s first leading role in her third year. She gained valuable experience by understanding the role of an actress.

“When onstage, the most important thing isn’t how you act; rather, it is how you are perceived by the audience. The same applies to the concept of clinical psychology, a field in which I was interested. For example, when interacting with a patient within clinical psychology, it is not enough to focus solely on the thoughts of that patient. The perspective of other people around the patient is also important. Theater provides hints on how to interact with patients and deal with mental illness.”

Maria decided to enter graduate school in order to engage in further study of clinical psychology. Around the same time, she was offered as position as a student advisor at the Cultural Affairs Division. Although she initially refused the offer for fear that she wouldn’t have sufficient time to study, she gradually began to feel that the position might give her the opportunity to be involved with theater even if she no longer had time to perform. Eventually, she decided to accept the opportunity to contribute to the Waseda culture which she loves so much.

Student advisor at the Cultural Affairs Division is a new system which started from April 2014. The foremost activity is planning for the Waseda Culture and Arts Week which is held in October. Student advisors come from different grades and departments, and each member has a different reason for assuming the position. These diverse members hold repeated discussions in order to formulate a plan. Maria traveled between Tokorozawa and Waseda each time that a discussion was held.

“We started by holding a serious discussion regarding the meaning of “Waseda culture.” This revealed the different values and opinions of members. For me, Waseda culture refers to theater. However, depending on one’s position and way of thinking, Waseda culture can also be music, sports or even classes. The other student advisors held different values from my theater colleagues, and it was a refreshing experience to exchange opinions and hold discussions. Everyone accepted my individuality, and I accepted everyone’s ideas. I believe that the experience of interacting with people from a variety of positions and situations will be useful to my studies in clinical psychology.

Currently, Maria has her sights set on becoming a psychiatric counselor. She has a busy schedule of attending class twice per week and participating in onsite training four days per week. Maria is motivated by her strong desire to help suffering people. “I like people,” she says. Her ability to honestly express her affection for fellow human beings will surely lead to unique counseling which will be of great aid to many people.

Maria Okada
1st-Year in the Master’s Program of Clinical Psychology, Graduate School of Human Sciences

Maria Okada was born in Hiroshima Prefecture. She entered the Waseda University School of Human Sciences in 2010. She was fascinated by the power of theater since she was a child and participated in theater during junior high school, high school and university. Particularly she was impressed by a performance of Shoji Kokami’s Bokutachi No Suki Datta Kakumei which she saw during her third year in high school. This performance caused her to become completely immersed in theater. Even today, she refreshes herself by attending several theatrical performances every month. Recently, she has developed an interest in dinosaurs. Her favorite is the triceratops.