November 27, 2018 at 9:20 am

Alumni News | Komiyama Teaches at CSU Sacramento, Fondly Recalls Life in Athens

Dr. Reiko Komiyama (center), MA ‘02 with her graduate students in a group photo.

Dr. Reiko Komiyama (center), MA ‘02 with her graduate students. On her shirt is a phonemic transcription of “If you can read this you may have a future in TESOL.”

Dr. Reiko Komiyama, MA ’02 is Associate Professor of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at California State University at Sacramento.

As a graduate student at Ohio University, Komiyama lived in a basement studio of a house on Ohio Avenue, right across from East Elementary School. She worked at the school as a TA, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to her students.

“I still remember their names,” Komiyama says, “Alejandra, Mohammed, Abdul-Rahman, San Hyun, Shrugue, Leticia, Cholmon….”

She adds that her “memories of Athens are plenty. After all, that’s the first place where I lived in the U.S.—(with) four beautiful seasons: fall leaves, snowflakes, daffodils, and fire flies.”

She is still in touch with her “American mom,” who owned the house on Ohio Avenue. And she recalls her first Halloween, “dressed as a nun and handing out candies in front of mom’s house.”

Komiyama also recalls summer afternoons when she visited her professor’s house on May Avenue to teach math to his son in Japanese; Saturday morning breakfast and cinnamon rolls at Big Chimney; visits to the farmers market; the Little Professor bookstore; and the muffin shop on Court Street.

“I was so attached to Athens,” Komiyama says, “and didn’t want to leave.”

But she did leave. Her mentor, Dr. David Bell, suggested that the Ph.D. program at Northern Arizona University would be a good match for her interest in TESOL, and there was a Bobcat professor who taught in the program there: Dr. William Grabe. Grabe, MA ’78, was a recipient of the College of Arts & Sciences 2017 Notable Alumni Award.

Komiyama earned her doctorate in 2009. Her dissertation, directed by Grabe and Fredricka Stoller, was titled Second Language Reading Motivation of Adult English-for-Academic-Purposes Students. Soon after graduating, Komiyama was hired by Sacramento State to teach in M.A. TESOL program. During her time there she has been a three-time nominee for the Outstanding Teaching Award.

Reiko did come back to Athens in 2012, as the plenary speaker at the Annual Conference of Ohio University Linguistics Department 2012.

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