Mina C.

Mina C.
Mina C.

Quiet words in Japanese helped Mina find her way to the ϳԹ.

The shy teenager signed up for a Japanese course as a junior at her Seattle high school. She had already tried Spanish. “The class was too loud, and so I was like, ‘I bet Japanese would be quieter,’” she said.

Mina disliked the loud class, in part, because she is autistic. She was diagnosed as a high school senior.

After two years in a Washington state college, Mina enrolled at UAF in 2019. She was drawn to UAF’s Japanese studies program, and she hoped to become a park ranger.

In the years since, Mina has switched her major to English, although she has completed courses for a Japanese minor as well.


Mina did find a park job — as a state campground host. She currently works in UAF’s campus recycling program. She now wants to explore a career in wilderness therapy.

“A lot of the programs are for teenagers, and I remember how I felt when I was that age,” she said.

Mina also has pursued eclectic interests while working toward graduation in fall 2023.

After taking up guitar and ukulele, she staged a concert with friends to raise money for veterinary care in Alaska’s villages. She edits poetry for Ice Box, a literary journal run by UAF undergraduates. And, in spring 2023, she took a climbing class with trips to an icefall near Denali National Park.

Mina said the class strengthened her physical confidence. “That’s something people struggle with a lot, with self-comparison,” she said. “I had to get over that for music as well. You don’t have to sound perfect, and people will appreciate your efforts.”