Junior Kimie Shiozawa was presented with the 2020 Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization this spring for her contributions to international education at the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC). Shiozawa is actively involved in promoting inclusivity and building community for students from around the world. She continues to work hard towards promoting excellence in campus internationalization.

Originally from Japan, Shiozawa came to UMC to study English as a second language (ESL).  It was difficult for her to get used to her new home and way of life since the language was entirely different from her mother tongue. 

After her first semester taking only ESL classes, Shiozawa decided to challenge herself, and step outside of her comfort zone by signing up for a Forestry class. When she first signed up, she did not know much about natural resources, but as the course progressed, she found herself completely engrossed. 

Nevertheless, her love for natural resources was at times halted because of the language barrier, “I understood 50 percent of the classes, but it got easier with time, and it helped to have recorded lectures that I could re-watch on my own time” mentioned Shiozawa.

At first, when she lived in Tokyo, she did not truly realize her passion for flora and fauna, but she found and honed her love for it in Crookston. Moreover, Associate Professor in the natural resources and agriculture department, Phil Baird, was always willing to lend Shiozawa a helping hand and helped her stay in the major she loved and overcome the language barrier. 

Theresa Helgeson, a lab coordinator in Natural Resources, worked closely with Shiozawa and was continually awestruck by her dedication and care, “This young woman not only met my expectations, but she exceeded them. Kimie had very little experience, but she excelled at every task given to her. In fact, I had several detail-oriented tasks with the campus vegetable garden and our butterfly garden that I only trusted her to do. Kimie outworked my other student workers each and every day. Without knowing it, Kimie showed her fellow American Students in the small town of Crookston, Minnesota, how capable and brave a person has to be to become an international student.”  

Shiozawa found that she thrived when stepping out of her comfort zone and highly encourages other international students to do so as well. In doing so, she discovered a passion for natural resources, and now brings cultures and people together through it.