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Lakeland University Japan News

Five Questions with LUJ Director of Enrollment and Accommodations Officer Jessica McDonald

Five Questions with LUJ Director of Enrollment and Accommodations Officer Jessica McDonald


Five Questions with LUJ Director of Enrollment and Accommodations Officer Jessica McDonald

Perhaps wherever you work, you have a colleague who seems able to help with just about every aspect of the job. For LUJ, this is Jessica McDonald. Ever since she joined LUJ in 2017, Ms. McDonald has helped the university across multiple departments, both academically and administratively.

Whether filling in as an interim director of the EAP, representing LUJ during its partnership with Bunkyo Gakuin University, coordinating a study abroad program that brought LUJ students to the LU campus in Wisconsin, or delivering a presentation at the 9th Annual Conference for Global Higher Education that centered around how teachers can better cater to neurodivergent students in the classroom, Ms. McDonald plays an integral role at LUJ–what we’ve mentioned being the tip of the iceberg.

We chatted with Ms. McDonald about her experiences at LUJ, and what she currently is working on. 

1) Many students at LUJ have had you as an EAP (English for Academic Purposes) Instructor. For new readers, the EAP is an intensive program that allows students to prepare themselves for LUJ's Undergraduate Program. But it's also so much more. Could you perhaps elaborate on this?

What I love about EAP is that you learn more than just English grammar and vocabulary. You learn about so many different contemporary issues ranging from business, science, archaeology topics and more! It makes for a very interesting class and very intriguing group discussions. The teachers on the program work really hard to deliver a results-driven course so that students can enter the undergraduate program confidently with a sense of preparedness and strong English proficiency.

2) You wear quite a few hats here at LUJ. Let's start with The English Club, a bi-monthly Saturday afternoon club run in partnership with Sumida City. How has that been going?

It has been an injection of energy onto the campus. I am impressed by the confidence and ability of the junior high school students (who are as young as 12 yrs old!) when it comes to using English and interacting with our activity leaders, LUJ undergraduate students. The activity leaders come up with new activities each session for the students to enjoy using their English skills. I love watching the friendly rapport being built between students and activity leaders.

3) Okay, next hat. And I believe this has been brewing for some time: The TESOL Certificate course. Very excited about this. Can you perhaps give readers more information about this?

TESOL is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is a very popular certificate for budding English teachers to take before they start to look for teaching work overseas. We plan to offer a four week LUJ TESOL program which can also earn college credits.

The first two weeks of the course will be online, making it accessible all over the world. The final two weeks will take place in Japan and will provide the participant with real authentic classroom practice.

4) We've also started a close partnership with Bunkyo Gakuin University, and you are right in the middle of all the action between the two schools, from speech contests to basketball exhibitions to exchange student opportunities. Anything else on the horizon between us and BGU?

EAP has graciously opened their doors to BGU students to attend our English classes. In fact, we welcomed 6 BGU student guests on the 1st September, and they’ll study with us for 2 weeks. We also hope to work closely with BGU’s girls junior high school for classroom access on the TESOL program mentioned above.

5) Of course, you're not always working. Rumor has it you're a traveler, among other many great things. Any recommendations? Oh, and how about a hypothetical: If you were given a month off, all expenses paid, where might you go?

Holiday time is where I can get that work-life balance as we are so busy during the terms. One of the great things about being an expat is that you meet people from all over the world. I recommend traveling to their countries to visit them. There is nothing more rewarding than experiencing someone else’s culture and lifestyle as opposed to the tourist version experience.

I have home-stayed in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya; Bucharest, Romania; Les Anyans, France; Charleston, South Carolina … better than any tourist-packaged site-seeing tour! A month off, all expenses paid would be a trip to Antarctica - that place is out of my budget at the moment!