OHIO alumna and Fulbright scholar Alexis Karolin is prepared to take on a world of opportunity
If you want to know who Alexis Karolin is and the type of student she was, consider how she frames her Ohio University experience.
Karolin graduated in spring 2022 from Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College (HTC) with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Certificate in Law, Justice, and Culture, as well as with a certificate in Asian Studies.
She first gives credit and a shoutout to her friends and family for their support during her time as a student at OHIO.
Then, she goes on to credit a long list of professors and mentors she’d like to thank for their contributions to her success, including: Michele Clouse Ph.D., who taught Karolin’s HIST 3111J class and regularly took her out for coffee to go over revisions for her research paper to help build her skills as a writer; Miriam Shadis Ph.D. (director of studies) and Mariana Dantas Ph.D., (tutorial professor) who always checked in on her mental health and made sure she didn’t overwhelm herself with courses and extracurricular activities; and Katherine Jellison Ph.D., who helped her complete a tutorial on Asian American women and served as her thesis advisor.
“Without (Jellison’s) support, I would not have been able to explore my passions in my research,” Karolin said. “Dr. Jellison is also a great friend who was always happy to write recommendation letters, crack jokes and share funny stories during our meetings, and take me out for lunch to celebrate my success.”
Karolin also highlights her experience working as a Learning Community Leader alongside Larry Hayman for the last three years, saying he is dedicated to the well-being of his students, works very hard to create a welcoming environment for first-year students, and always finds time to help someone whenever they ask, regardless of how busy he is.
Working with Hayman inspired Karolin to consider teaching in a classroom after graduation and working with the Learning Communities gave her the skills and confidence to pursue the Fulbright program.
As part of the Fulbirght U.S. Student Program, Karolin is now on her way to Taipei, Taiwan to teach English as a foreign language. She’ll teach and be involved in several service projects to support the community in Taipei.
Karolin, who was born in the Hunan Province in China and adopted in 2000, is excited to visit Taiwan and learn more about the region of the world she was born in.
The emphasis on cross cultural exchange will let her share her own multicultural background with others and emphasize the diversity of the United States.
“I am ready to push myself beyond my comfort zone and grow personally and professionally,” she said. “In 2020, I studied abroad at Swansea University during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and stayed in Wales until the end of June. I learned how to take care of myself as an adult during a global emergency. Now, I feel like I can face any challenge ahead of me.”
Karolin is excited to live in a large city for the first time, try new foods, improve her Mandarin language skills through immersion, take a Taiwanese dance class, and learn more about Taiwan and its people.
Her research interests focus on women’s history in the U.S. and Asian American history. During her time at OHIO, Karolin published three articles about Japanese American Internment with Roger Aden Ph.D., who is part of the School of Communication Studies. For her senior thesis, she contextualized the increase in reported hate crimes against the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community during the COVID-19 pandemic within the larger framework of AAPI history in the U.S. under the mentorship of Jellison, and was awarded Outstanding HTC Thesis of 2022.
She created an archival collection which documents the founding of three Asian American organizations – Athens Asian American Alliance, AAPI Student Union, and AAPI-LEAD – in Athens through an internship with the Robert E. and Jean R. Mahn Center for Archives in Alden Library.
As an HTC undergraduate student, Karolin took a chance on herself by learning to conduct research in communication studies, a new field for her. Through her tenacity and support from Aden, she was the first author on her first academic publication, even as an undergraduate student.
“With my interest in female empowerment, I want to pursue a career in international relations and work on gender development in East and Southeast Asia,” Karolin said. “I can also see myself working in a museum to continue documenting Asian American history and amplifying AAPI voices in the U.S. given my internship with the Mahn Center. After researching Asian American history for the last two years, I would also love to write a book on oral histories of Chinese American adoptees like myself. But who knows?”
Karolin says she has grown so much as researcher, from a sophomore who didn’t know anything about communication studies to a solo author of an academic article, and she’s learned to trust her instincts and be confident in her findings.
“I feel very privileged to have been a part of a program where the dean of the college (Donal Skinner) knew my name. The HTC program and Ohio University will always have a special place in my heart and Athens will always be my home,” she added. “Maybe I will fall in love with teaching English as a foreign language and stay in Taiwan longer or teach in another country. I don’t feel pigeon-holed in any way to one career path, and I believe I have the tools to pursue any option I set my mind to.”
To learn more about Karolin’s work with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Organizations in Athens, visit https://media.library.ohio.edu/digital/collection/findingaids/id/393/rec/1
For more information on Karolin’s research on Japanese American Internment and her senior thesis, A “China-Woman’s Chance”?: The Coronavirus Pandemic, Violence, and Perseverance, visit ResearchGate.
The Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University is celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you are an alumnus of HTC, please share your stories with us and help us commemorate decades of academic achievement and creative thinking. Reach out to Tosha Jupiter at firstname.lastname@example.org.