Student Spotlight: March 11, Week 9

International Student Profile: Meet Kiyoko

A world traveler, author, and Kent State University alumna, Celeste “Kiyoko” Hall sets an admirable example of what it looks like to pursue one’s true passions and chase your dreams. Kiyoko is the author of the book Tokyo 2020 Olympics for Dummies and the writer behind her travel blog Footsteps of a Dreamer.

Growing up, Kiyoko displayed a passion for writing stories and took interest in pieces of her Japanese heritage left behind by her grandmother. This sparked her interest in the country of Japan, and it set her mind to one day participating in a Japan study abroad program and Japanese language classes in college.

During Kiyoko’s time at KSU, she took the opportunity to study abroad in Japan and started her travel blog as a way to share her experiences with family members. When she returned home to the United States, she realized just how much she enjoyed channeling her passions for writing and travel into blogging.

Kiyoko says she took her blog from, “here is what I did today”, to “here’s what I would recommend doing in X city” to revamp it for a broader audience and to help others who planned on traveling to Japan.

“I didn’t start my travel blog in hopes of it one day getting a book contract. Writing a ‘For Dummies’ book was never even something that had even crossed my mind until the email from Wiley Publishing landed in my email.” She says.

Studying abroad was one of her favorite parts of her college experience at KSU. “Getting to experience another culture and way of life definitely made me rethink how I’d been living my own life,” She says.

Kiyoko says she caught the “travel bug” by experiencing other countries and cultures firsthand.

With a degree in computer science, Kiyoko spent time working in the cybersecurity industry before realizing search engine optimization (SEO) was what she truly enjoyed doing for her website and what she hoped to do for other companies.

Kiyoko is now the Senior Product Manager of Organic at National Strategic where she manages the SEO and Web Design and Performance Analysis teams.

Over the past few months, Kiyoko devoted her free time to writing and focusing on Tokyo 2020 Olympics for Dummies. Now that the elements of her book are wrapped up and underway, she is looking forward to traveling and focusing on her website.

One piece of advice Kiyoko expresses to others is that opportunities can come from the most unexpected places.

When Wiley Publishing first asked if she would be interested in writing a book, she says she was reluctant to say yes. “I was immediately hit with imposter syndrome, convinced that there was somebody better than me -- somebody with more knowledge of Japan and the Olympics than me -- who would be a better fit to write the book,” Kiyoko says.

With that in mind, Kiyoko adds, “don’t let failure stop you from being successful.”

To read more about Kiyoko’s travel experiences, advice, and more check out her website Footsteps of a Dreamer go here.

Written by Mary Elliott, Office of Global Education Spring 2020 Intern