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First Japanese student winner of Microsoft Excel 200 competition!

Ms. Mishio Sashihara

The "2010 Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office" took place in Salt Lake City in August 2010. Among 51 finalists out of a total of 115,000 participants from 54 countries was Ms. Sashihara. She participated in the Excel 2007 competition, an expertise test using PCs to compete in skills of Excel 2007, including functions, creating graphs, data extraction and sorting.

Ms. Mishio Sashihara

At the venue with a tense atmosphere, the cue to start the test was given with the call "OK, start." She was nervous yet calm enough to sleep well on the previous night, but once she looked at the questions, she started to feel a tension she had never experienced. There were a series of difficult questions, making her feel, "This is world-class level!" Feeling she might not be able to complete it, she did her best, thinking, "I've come this far, so I might as well enjoy myself." When the scores were announced the next day and the presenter called the name of the world champion, "Mishio Sashihara," she felt it unreal as if was "the name of someone from another country being announced." Her friends from Japan were, however, cheering. She looked at the screen at the front of the venue and was surprised to see her name on it. "Unbelievable," Ms. Sashihara looks back at how she felt. "At first, I didn't feel it was real at all, but after coming back to Japan, people were all happy as if they were winners, so I gradually started to realize that I'd actually won."

Ms. Sashihara first touched a PC when she was in third grade of elementary school. When she went into fifth grade, she started to maintain a petty cashbook using Excel. "As my mother told me my eyesight would deteriorate, I used the program for only an hour on holidays," Ms. Sashihara recalls. As her mother was a PC instructor, she gradually mastered her "skills" following the example of her mother.

When she passed the entrance examination of WASEDA University, her mother recommended that she try an MOS test (Microsoft Office Specialist Excel 2007), a computer qualification. Though she had less than a month before the test, she passed the Excel 2007 test with the third highest score in Japan. In the meantime, she learned about the world competition and decided to take on the challenge, thinking it would be a good opportunity. She passed the first and second rounds, and was nominated as one of the five representatives from Japan in May 2010. She recalls, "I concentrated on studying until my final exams of the first semester of undergraduate school. After the tests, I concentrated on preparing for the world competition."

Though first impressions of her is of a gentle nature, it turns out that her nerves are settled after talking to her. "People say I'm different from what I look like. (Laughing). It is probably because I started to play the violin at the age of three and have experienced many solo performances." Since returning to Japan, she has received many e-mail messages of congratulations, won a Community Award of Honor from Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama City, and suddenly become famous. Her dream is to improve environmental issues. "Taking advantage of my knowledge of chemistry, which I'm studying, I want to contribute to stopping environmental deterioration and contribute to society as much as I can," she explains. "I want to fully exploit my Excel skills in a research presentation."

At the World MOS Competition (second from right, first row)

At the award-giving ceremony of the Community Award of Honor (Ms. Sashihara in the center)

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Mishio Sashihara

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1991. Graduated from Shonan Shirayuri-gakuen High School. Sophomore of the School of Advanced Science and Engineering. Her interests are cello, badminton, tennis, and eating sweets. She is a member of "Classical Strings Ensemble" and displays her cello skills at regular concerts.