Senior becomes first-ever Temple Japan student to win Diamond Award
Hikari Hida, a political science and Asian studies major at Temple University Japan, has dedicated her college years to working toward social justice and fighting against sexual assault.
As a graduating senior at Temple University Japan (TUJ), Hikari Hida has already begun to leave her mark on the issues she’s most passionate about: women’s rights and sexual violence prevention.
Through an internship with the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Now, Hida took part in writing a set of recommendations for Japan’s policymakers on improving the country’s antiquated rape laws, and, in response to a friend’s sexual assault, Hida has worked to ensure students there have adequate access to resources.
“Students weren’t aware that Main Campus has great resources,” said Hida, a dual major in political science and Asian studies. In the process of supporting her friend, Hida worked with the university to ensure the Tokyo campus is best equipped to utilize Main Campus’ resources.
As part of this effort, the TUJ student handbook was updated to add a section on sexual assault, and a deputy Title IX coordinator, Nicole Despres, was installed at the campus so that more of the process of responding to sexual assault or harassment cases could take place there, making it more effective and efficient.
To continue increasing awareness and provide an outlet for people to share their stories, Hida and a fellow student started Uprizine, a publication that champions social justice and women’s rights, and provides information about medical and other support resource in Tokyo regarding sexual and interpersonal violence.
Hida’s advocacy and commitment to social justice earned her a high honor on Temple’s Main Campus, nearly 7,000 miles away. This month, she became the first TUJ student ever to receive a Diamond Award, the highest honor awarded annually to an undergraduate student for significant achievements in leadership, academics, service to the university, and community impact.
“Hikari is a student who not only excels academically but has also applied her abilities to activism in several areas, including women’s rights in Japan,” Stronach said.
Hida traveled to Philadelphia to accept the award on Main Campus during a ceremony held May 1.
“She told me that she doesn't know what she's done to deserve this recognition. That speaks volumes to me,” said George Miller, associate dean for academic affairs at TUJ, who recommended Hida for the award. “This is a young person who has been a leader on campus, a person who has been involved in so many projects and achieved so much. There’s a humility that allows her to connect to people.”
Hida’s dedication to social justice—particularly for girls and women—traces back to her roots. Growing up in Thailand and China and attending high school in Japan, she became acutely aware at a young age of the issues girls and women face due to existing policies or lack thereof.
“I was in China during the one-child policy, and there was a lot of female infanticide,” Hida recalled. “When I went to high school in Japan, a classmate was repeatedly assaulted ... I would try to get her to report it. There was a lot of shame [in her family] about it. This very, very personally hit me.”
After she graduates from TUJ this month, Hida will continue her quest. Her ultimate goal at the moment is to join a nonprofit in Southeast Asia, doing work centered on preventing violence against women. She’s currently exploring graduate school programs in international development in London and New York and plans to take time in Thailand, brushing up on her language and writing skills so she can work there eventually.
Wherever Hida winds up, she said the work she’s been doing is far from finished.
“I’m really grateful for Temple University,” Hida said. “I’m grateful I’ve been given this opportunity, but there’s still so much to be done.”