Alumna Akiko Ogawa from class of 2015, completed her A-Levels at GIS and continued her education with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at Bath Spa University.
Can you share with us about what you’re doing at the moment?
As you all know I have come to university with the intention of working on a Fine Art degree. I have learned a lot over the past 3 years, playing around with digital and CGI art, drawing very intricate illustrations and then finally moving towards oil painting. My big influences in art were the European Renaissance artists, scientists and philosophers Leonardo Da Vinci, William Blake and Galileo.
Due to the academic freedom of my Fine Art course, it has allowed me to explore other areas of research and knowledge. At the moment, I am working on several side projects, researching and developing sustainable, biomimetic design solutions for the global food and water crisis. If you have never heard of biomimetics, it’s the innovative approach to designing industrial solutions and systems inspired by nature’s framework and models.
Being independent at university has allowed me the skills to respond to the world’s problems effectively and in a knowledgeable manner. The freedom a university student has to effectively manage time should be appreciated and fully integrated to prepare for future career opportunities. As university students we are all lucky to be able to find time actively learning for ourselves, especially now in the time of the internet and unlimited information.
Tell us about your Front of House project
I currently am working as staff at a local plant-based restaurant earning extra income whilst studying and learning the ways of business in a food industry. Being involved in the food industry made me aware of how food is produced and cultivated today. Today’s farming techniques is of an old paradigm; it is completely unsustainable and is destroying our ecosystem. However I aim to promote land stewardship. One of my side projects also involves urban agriculture, where I aim to start in a vertical farming enterprise to solve food security. 70% of the world’s population will be moving into cities and urban areas in the next coming decades, the population will climb to a staggering 9 billion. With all this knowledge about the future, I have acquired my deep passion and drive to respond to the faced challenges of the climate crisis.
What comes to your mind when you hear GIS?
When I hear GIS I think of all the challenges and successful moments I have gone through. School life has not been a smooth journey for me, but I have been lucky to have experienced GIS, where I truly feel they do bring out the best in you. I think of all the diverse extra-curricular activities and trips they have provided in order to gain eclectic knowledge to prepare you for the world post-study.
Share your best memory while you were in GIS?
I have a few good memories at GIS. One of them was when I was in secondary school, where my friends and I would explore around the school after classroom hours, socialising with other groups and talking about interesting subjects that are not normally talked about in the classroom, such as topics like aliens and the end of the world prophecies. Another fond memory was when I was in primary school and we would make paper mache sculptures of the Egyptian pyramids and paint in hieroglyphic for fun.
If you were a student again, what is the one change that you would make?
If I was a student again, one thing I would change would definitely be my self-consciousness. I would often feel insecure and out of place, so I wish I just didn’t care what others thought of me in school. If I were a student again, I would make sure I listen to my instincts and allow myself to be different. I would have gone to that nerdy Robotics extra-curricular class every week if I wasn’t so aware I was the only girl out of a whole class of boys. I guess this is also the outcome of living in a patriarchal world. I am still a passionate tech geek and I will not let my gender disrupt my path.
How did GIS prepare you for University, your career or even in life?
GIS prepared me with the best skills possible for the work environment, teaching professionalism, teamwork, collaboration and camaraderie through various housing events and sporting competitions. GIS also taught me perseverance through constant feedback and correcting for my utmost academic success in assignments and coursework.
What was your favorite subject in GIS? What did you study in GIS?
My favourite subject in GIS was art & design and biology. The empirical science of the body fascinates me and so does the art of science, which brought out my inner Leonardo Da Vinci and his aestheticism and curiosity for the real world and its rationalities.
Who were the teachers that made an impression on you and why?
My teacher in year 2, 4, and year 6. They were probably the most engaging and the most kind teachers I knew. Children always want teachers that are understanding and engaging as children don’t often know why they have to sit down for so long.
My recent achievement would be my internship at Spike Island in Bristol where I was directly involved in the making and touch up of the T.V screens for the Big Brother series in the U.K. I have also been involved in various local exhibitions in Bath where I gained many local recognition for my work. Last summer I went to stay in an Italian ecovillage for 3 weeks, where I learned how to paint like the old masters. It was an enriching experience which brought me to meet other similar artists like me from around the world.
Describe your dream life.
My dream life includes me living a balanced and holistic life within the city and on the outskirts. I would prefer to live on the hinterlands and do work in an urban environment if that makes my lifestyle more balanced and much more liveable. I dream that in the future my ideas for changing and innovating the world for the better would manifest and that the world can eventually manage its resources better, as there is currently an asymmetric and uneven distribution of wealth, property and food.
What’s your say on being an effective global citizen?
Being an effective global citizen should involve the comprehensive cultivation of different cultural values around the world. I grew up in the east where its culture is full of the mystical and superstitious beliefs, whereas the culture in the west are more practical and scientific. After all it should involve the learning of different cultures one encounters, and incorporating the best behaviours as not all cultures are perfect. Different cultures could learn better ways of being from another, but an individual who is well travelled can do that far better. As long as the citizen explores one’s culture conscientiously and behaves virtuously to others whilst doing so. Respecting one another for where and how they have come about to this day as specific individuals… This is what I believe should be defined as an ‘effective global citizen’.
What advice would you give to current GIS students?
My advice to current GIS students: After school, there will be a lot more to learn in your life. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and aim to achieve things you never thought you would today. You have to go beyond your limiting belief systems in order to reach your full potential. Parents, schools and teachers will no longer be telling you what to read and write, and soon after you leave you will have to actively seek knowledge and keep learning. You are at the prime time of your life now with the existence of the internet, you could literally know anything you want right at your fingertips. If you are really ambitious, don’t take your years at university and your adulthood for granted by wasting it in your comfort zone or distracting yourself from your real purpose. I also want to say that you will inevitably go through relationship problems, financial problems, existential problems in your life. When you do, please for my sake don’t linger on the problems and be sucked into the downward spiral for too long. Learn about these problems, ask yourself questions and keep facing those challenges. They will pass as long as you don’t ignore these issues as they will grow bigger. It is definitely possible to overcome them and in the end you will have grown tremendously and become a better version of yourself. Dream big and keep working on your dreams. A good quality of life won’t just happen overnight. Finally, understand that life is an ongoing journey and every scenery is transient, so appreciate every moment you’re in, whoever you’re around and enjoy the ride.