MTSU alumna Rebecca Clippard awarded MEXT Scholars...

MTSU alumna Rebecca Clippard awarded MEXT Scholarship for postgrad studies

Middle Tennessee State University alumna Rebecca Clippard, who has spent five years in Japan under the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, was recently awarded the exclusive MEXT Research Scholarship to complete a postgraduate degree at a Japanese institution. The scholarship will be used from April 2024 through March 2026. 

The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (abbreviated as Monbukagakusho in Japanese or MEXT in English) sponsors scholarships to enable foreign students from around the world to study and earn degrees at Japanese universities. 

Tye Ebel, JET Program and MEXT Scholarship coordinator, Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville (Submitted photo)
Tye Ebel

“I would like to congratulate Rebecca on being the only candidate from our region to be selected for a MEXT scholarship this year,” said Tye Ebel, JET Program and MEXT Scholarship coordinator, Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville. “We were impressed by her research topic related to the study of English language education in Japan. As a JET participant, Rebecca frequently volunteered her time to remotely advise and assist aspiring JETs back here in the US. I look forward to seeing how she will use this scholarship to continue to strengthen the bonds between our two countries.”

With the MEXT scholarship, Clippard plans to study English pedagogy, researching and analyzing fundamental English-teaching methods used in Japan to create effective curricula and competently teach non-native speakers. 

Middle Tennessee State University alumna Rebecca Clippard was recently awarded the exclusive MEXT Research Scholarship to complete a postgraduate degree at a Japanese institution. (Submitted photo)
Middle Tennessee State University alumna Rebecca Clippard was recently awarded the exclusive MEXT Research Scholarship to complete a postgraduate degree at a Japanese institution. (Submitted photo)

“My research will focus on analyzing Japan’s preferred second-language acquisition methods and creating curricula to meet the communicative needs of English language learners effectively and efficiently with a Japanese background,” she said. 

She added, “In an increasingly global world, there is a need for open communication, and English has become the shared language among different countries. Until now, I have only had the opportunity to observe as an assistant teacher in a few schools, but through the MEXT scholarship, I could give back to the Japanese education system by contributing to its pedagogical research at a time when trained English instructors are becoming increasingly necessary.” 

A former Honors College Buchanan Fellow, Clippard graduated summa cum laude in 2018 with a dual foreign languages major, concentrating in both Spanish and Japanese. Previously, she was awarded the prestigious Bridging Scholarship for Study Abroad in Japan, a national scholarship funded by the American Association of Teachers of Japanese, and a $1,000 grant from the national headquarters of Phi Kappa Phi, which is only presented to 25 students nationwide. With them, she spent the 2016-17 academic year abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. 

MEXT scholarship logo

In 2012, Clippard began attending classes through the Japanese Supplementary School’s Japanese as a Second Language program. “It was my first time immersed in another culture, experiencing events such as sports day, the drama festival, and the entrance ceremony.” 

“By winning the MEXT scholarship to pursue graduate studies at Soka University in Tokyo, my former student Rebecca Clippard has added another feather to her cap of accomplishments,” said Priya Ananth, professor of Japanese and coordinator of the Japanese Language Program in MTSU’s Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.“She prepared her research proposal and application materials meticulously and passed through multiple screening levels both in the United Stated and in Japan to emerge at the top. I congratulate Rebecca for this well-deserved achievement and wish her the very best for a continued bright future.” 

Dr. Priya Ananth
Dr. Priya Ananth

After returning from her college study abroad trip, Clippard said she was determined to provide similar support that she had received from her host family overseas. She became a mentor to incoming international students at MTSU. 

MTSU Alumni logo web

“I was paired with three women from Japan and enjoyed showing them around to popular local venues like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and Mammoth Caves. When we ate together at Thanksgiving, one of them described her hometown close to Mount Sakurajima,” she explained.  

In 2019, following her time at Kansai Gaidai University, she was accepted in JET. She has taught at five different schools in Minamisatsuma City in Kagoshima Prefecture. She chose this location as one of her placement requests because of the vivid imagery from her experiences with the international students she previously mentored. 

“While on the JET Program as an assistant language teacher, I learned other approaches from my teachers in Minamisatsuma City, such as the more traditional methods of direct translation and grammar translation, often supplemented with cultural exchange,” Clippard said. 

Honors College logo

She initially learned Japanese through attendance at the Japanese government’s Japanese Supplementary School, dual-enrollment classes in high school, and later as a Japanese major at MTSU. 

Inspired to share her passion of the Japanese language and culture, Clippard has sought out opportunities for teacher training. She has served as a teacher’s aide in the English as a Second Language classroom at John Pittard Elementary School in Murfreesboro and has done a university graduate study and practicum in professor Shelley Thomas’ course on brain-based learning and pedagogy in the foreign language classroom. 

“I wrote my Honors thesis while teaching for the Honors College’s Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition(CALA), and I was trained in Total Physical Response, Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling, and Comprehensive Input. As a part of the research component, I analyzed how effective the above methods were compared to typical university classes,” explained Clippard. “What began as a college project became a lifelong career goal after I gained practical experience teaching through the CALA, a teaching practicum in Spain, volunteering with Read to Succeed, and as an ESL volunteer in an American elementary school.” 

Dr. Leah Lyons
Dr. Leah Lyons

“We are proud of Rebecca and this door she is opening for other students,” exclaimed Leah Lyons, dean of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts. “If there is a ‘first,’ there is bound to be a second, third, and many more students able to pursue these honors, scholarships, and awards. It is important to acknowledge the faculty and staff who work tirelessly to make sure our students are prepared to compete for these opportunities — and win!” 

Since its inception in 1954, more than 100,000 students from approximately 160 countries have taken advantage of these scholarships to study in Japan. MEXT Scholarships generally cover the cost of tuition, provide a monthly stipend to put toward living expenses, and provide round trip airfare.  

For more information about scholarship opportunities aboard, visit MTSU’s Undergraduate Fellowships Office online at details on the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, visit  

—  Robin E. Lee (