Toshi Miyagawa 1893
(First international student from outside North America)
If Toshi Miyagawa could have taken a piece of Mount Holyoke with her after graduating in 1893, it would have been the philosophy classroom. Already a successful teacher in Japan, she wrote back to her old classmates about her dreams of listening to the brilliant lectures on Hegel "just once again."
The life story of Toshi Miyagawa shows remarkable courage in the face of adversity. At an early age, she was adopted by a missionary family in Northern China. When her adoptive family moved to Japan, Toshi entered the American School for Girls in Tokyo. Later, she attended Kobe College for women. Soon, her excellence in English and music became apparent, and Mount Holyoke alumnae living in Japan recommended that the brilliant student apply to attend their alma mater. In 1890, Toshi boarded a ship and traveled to the United States to continue her educational adventure in South Hadley.
Upon graduation, Toshi started teaching at Kobe College. She challenged the control that American missionaries exercised over the school and petitioned to give Japanese teachers more authority. When missionaries refused to grant the petition, Toshi decided to resign. However, she continued to teach elsewhere and remained involved with education for the rest of her life.