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Risa Ninomiya

Photo of Risa Ninomiya standing outside on the Stanford campus, with leafy trees and buildings with red tiled roofs in the background

Risa Ninomiya

GSE Program: 
MA, International Comparative Education (ICE)
BA from Waseda University
Year of GSE degree: 

"I hope to continue my research in gender and higher education to achieve my life mission of creating an inclusive learning environment where underrepresented women learners and scholars can comfortably and confidently pursue their interests."

You’ve arrived at spring quarter! How would you describe your experience so far?

The past quarters passed by very quickly! It has been a wonderful opportunity to work on my research project, meet passionate educators from all over the world, and learn from admired professors. I can say that I’ve worked hard to get as many opportunities as possible while I’m here. 

What is unusual about the ICE/IEPA program?

I loved the small cohort size because it made me feel comfortable sharing my research and experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. I also felt encouraged and supported all the time because of the closeness to our professors and doctoral students. 

Why Stanford?

I chose Stanford because I felt my interest in gender and higher education aligned well with professors in the ICE program. After arriving at Stanford, I learned beyond what I expected to learn through my research project, discussions, lectures, and assignments. Another reason was the campus atmosphere. I grew up surrounded by nature, and I loved the openness of the campus. 

How would you describe the other students in your cohort?

They are very passionate about improving lives through learning and truly believe in the power of education. It’s empowering that although we were strangers before coming to Stanford, we could bond quickly because of our shared belief in education. 

What drew you to education?

I realized that education could shape my identity when I studied abroad in Hawai’i for seven years. Before then, I could not speak English and had almost no knowledge of Hawaiian and U.S. culture. Studying abroad at an early age transformed my mindset to believing that if I keep my perspective open, I will have so many opportunities. Unfortunately, there are many issues within the educational system worldwide, including inequality and exclusion. I want to become an expert in my research area to improve the system for underrepresented learners.

Photo of Risa Ninomiya

What were you doing prior to applying to the GSE?

I was leading a nonprofit organization for women’s empowerment. I conducted several research projects and developed diversity workshops at companies and universities to support young women in pursuing their goals with ambition and confidence. 

What are your career plans and goals?

I hope to continue my research in gender and higher education to achieve my life mission of creating an inclusive learning environment where underrepresented women learners and scholars can comfortably and confidently pursue their interests. My ultimate goal is to become the first woman president of a national, general university in Japan and contribute to improving the higher education system through both practice and research.

Any tips for incoming students to help them get the most from their time at Stanford?

I recommend reaching out to many students, professors, staff, scholars, and anyone you find intriguing! The Stanford community is very welcoming, and I learned so much from everyone I got to know. I encountered some personal challenges during my year here and didn’t share them at first, but my advisors and friends were very supportive throughout my experience. I also recommend joining student clubs and organizations or attending events organized by students! You might have a very busy time working on your thesis, but it’s always good to take some time off from your work and refresh your brain.

What do you do to relax and have fun?

Eat cookies and ice cream, run in the gym, watch the RBG [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] documentary, and hang out with friends and mentors!

Photo of Risa Ninomiya sitting by a sculpture on the Stanford campus—"Hello," by Xu Zhen

Photos by Sofiia Kukhar

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PhD students, please contact

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Jeremy Edwards
Associate Director of Degree Programs

MA POLS and MA/PP students, please contact

Wesley Horng
Wesley Horng
Associate Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs

EDS, ICE/IEPA, Individually Designed, LDT, MA/JD, MA/MBA students, please contact

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Caroline Stasulat
Associate Director of Degree Programs
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