Shoko Furukawa ’19 says the most important thing she learned at USC Marshall was: “You’re never too young to make a difference.”
During all four years here, Furukawa was a consultant with Los Angeles Community Impact, working pro-bono on consulting projects for multiple nonprofits serving low-income or at-risk populations. One of those projects involved developing a sustainable distribution model for an organization working to increase access to healthy foods in the South L.A. market.
Her proudest accomplishment was founding and leading a nonprofit that provides English education to children and young adults in Cambodia. She grew TASSEL@USC from five members to more than 30 over the past two years. The organization has provided more than 800 hours of teaching and donated more than $4,000 to families in Cambodia.
“While the rest of the world told me that I was too young or too inexperienced, USC gave me the confidence and the resources to go out into the world and work on projects that impact the lives of others." --Shoko Furukawa '19
She also spent her spring break in Honduras providing micro-finance services for a community bank in Granadilla Village. She and her team designed operations, trained residents and developed marketing strategies to inform the rest of the village about this new initiative.
“While the rest of the world told me that I was too young or too inexperienced, USC gave me the confidence and the resources to go out into the world and work on projects that impact the lives of others,” she says.
Furukawa, a native of Tokyo, Japan, will graduate with honors: as a Renaissance Scholar with a business major and international relations minor, and a Global Scholar, having excelled in her studies here and abroad and completed a capstone project on her international experiences.
As a junior, she spent five months at Germany’s WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, gaining invaluable global business experience, while doing good. “I worked with five other German students to develop a social business that increases accessibility to pharmaceutical products among the elderly population in rural Germany,” she says.
But Furukawa didn’t have to leave campus to have a truly global experience and make worldwide friends. “I was able to grow into a global and open-minded individual by coming to USC,” she says. “I've met some of the brightest and most inspiring people from all over the country and the world — all with a wide array of interests and disciplines. I wouldn't have been able to find a student population as diverse as USC's anywhere else.”
After graduation, Furukawa will join WeWork, which focuses on collaborative workspaces, to expand operations in one of their newest markets, Japan. In the future, she’d like to “connect different people, countries and cultures through business.” “For example,” she says, “I want to help American companies launch and expand their business in Japan, and help Japanese companies launch and expand their business in America.”
Furukawa aspires to be a business leader in Japan, where very few women hold leadership positions. “Only 7 percent of senior management jobs in Japan are held by women,” she says. “I hope to fight for improved representation of women in business, and inspire younger women in Japan to dream bigger and aim higher.”