Mount Holyoke has pushed me to demand justice for others
By Brittany King
Chisato Kimura’s earliest memories of Mount Holyoke are from her childhood. Her mother, Tomiko Kimura ’12, was a Frances Perkins Scholar and attended the College when Kimura was a child. “I remember feeling like there was a community looking out for my mom and for me,” she said. “I loved the environment — the people were so supportive.”
When the opportunity presented itself for her to attend Mount Holyoke, she was very excited to accept. When she returned to campus as a student, she found the community just as supportive as she remembered from her childhood.
During her four years on campus, Kimura has kept busy. She competed on the tennis team, served as a student manager in the dining hall, where she advocated for other student workers, and held several internships with the United Nations; VoteRiders, a nonprofit that supports voting rights for all people; and The Democracy Labs, an organization that focuses on technology and innovation at all levels of government.
“It’s really a testament to Mount Holyoke that I’ve been able to do all these different things. The College’s curriculum is set up in a way that supports students who have multiple passions and who want to explore different aspects of their lives,” she said. “A lot of my professors understand that we aren’t just here to take classes — we work, and we’re athletes. While class and assignments are educationally enriching, I’ve felt professors have been fair with extensions and the amount of classwork they assign, which has allowed me to go after so many other interests.”
Kimura especially credits her professor, the late Jon Western, then head of international relations and Carol Hoffmann Collins ’63 Professor of International Relations, with pushing her to explore and grow as a person and a student.
“He was one of the most supportive people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting and getting to know,” she said. “He believed in me, and he always pushed me to think more critically and explore my passions.”
When she took a human rights class with him, she realized that she wanted to go to law school to become a human-rights lawyer. She gathered the courage to say her dream out loud and found immediate support.
“He was excited for me and encouraged me to go after it,” she recalled. “He was there for me every step of the way and was so, so excited for every milestone and acceptance. He was the best mentor I could have ever asked for.”
Kimura is now poised to begin working toward a law degree at Yale Law School in the fall.
“The people at Mount Holyoke have really pushed me as a person,” she said. “They’ve pushed me to demand justice for others, and they’ve shown me what true advocacy for other communities looks like. Faculty have encouraged me to ask the hard questions and consider what groups of people aren’t receiving the support they need. This has helped inform my next steps and career immensely.”
Regardless of where her career takes her, she knows she’ll remain open because of what her time on campus has taught her.
“I have learned the importance of curiosity for curiosity’s sake. I’ve been focused on grades, but learning to gain the knowledge and just to know more has been instilled in me here,” she said. “I’ve grown a moral backbone and now understand the importance of being a better advocate for the causes I care about. Being here has been a great experience. The students are the kindest people I’ve ever met. They’re inspiring, and it makes me believe in myself even more.”