Melissa Nemoto (Née Morris, 1995 Frew and pictured right in the profile photo) got First Class Honours in Japanese post-graduate studies at University, which included a year of studying economics whilst on scholarship at Osaka University. This, after completing a double degree with double majors; a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Japanese and Indonesian and a Bachelor of Marketing, at Monash University.

If there’s one comforting fact for mere mortals in this sea of achievement it is that Melissa works hard. Very hard. She says that studying economics in the Japanese language was tough but that it taught her that, “pure hard work can pay off”.

But all the hard work is not just a means to an end for Melissa, who says that academic results are satisfying but only part of the journey.

“More than the results, my studies have allowed me to see the endless opportunities out there for further research and for work, which I find inspiring.

“And living in Japan as a student was so much fun. I made so many life-long friendships that year and traveled extensively,” she said.

Girton Grammar has a long and deep history of teaching Japanese language and Melissa is a very good example of where studying language can lead.

“When I was slogging late at night trying to learn kanji by flash cards as a student, I never dreamt that one day I would get to use Japanese so much in my day-to-day life.

“I thought studying Japanese would give me an edge when applying for work, but I never knew how satisfying it would be to study and work in Japan for an extended period of time,” she said.

Melissa is currently the Personal Assistant to the Japanese Consul-General of Japan in Melbourne, co-incidentally, having done work experience there whilst at Girton in Year 10. She has also worked in the Cultural Division of the Consulate-General as a Cultural Officer & Coordinator of the JET Programme – a cultural exchange initiative of the Japanese Government. Melissa participated in the JET Programme herself as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) in a local government office in Japan for 2 years. Other career experience in her 7 year stint in Japan includes working as a translator and interpreter in the publicity division of a private University in Japan for 3 years.

“I always said that I never wanted to do translation and I ended up doing it for 3 years! However, it was the best period for consolidating my language skills and at times, I even worked alongside some other Old Girtonians,” she said.

Melissa says that Ms Kurrle (Geography) and Mrs MacCulloch (History) were amongst her most influential teachers at Girton.

“Not only did they make their subjects fascinating but I was always impressed with their teaching prowess, confidence and poise. I like to think I model myself a little on them in the workplace.

“I also appreciate the late Mrs Jenkins and Mrs Lyons and Mrs Shuemack who encouraged me to develop my public speaking skills and I liked Mrs Horvath’s quiet, unassuming leadership style.

“I think my days at Girton taught me to aim high,” she said.

“I like to think I will do further study in Indonesian one day. I am also a bit of Francophile so I hope to study French too, one day.”

Melissa is now living in Melbourne with her husband and 2 year old son. They have recently purchased a house and plan to renovate, so travel plans are on hold for the immediate future.

“I really am grateful for my time at Girton and for cultivating my deep love and appreciation for the Japanese language and culture,” Melissa said.

Pictured: Melissa with her then 10 month old son, Caden, February, 2014.

Melissa Nemoto and Cayden