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Freshman crosses ocean for ASU entrepreneurship program


Jobana Westbay, who loves jazz music and exploring the natural world, will be studying at ASU's Polytechnic campus.

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August 20, 2015

Editor's note: This story is part of our back-to-school spotlight on notable incoming students. The series will run during the first two weeks of the fall semester. Read our other profiles here.

Jobana Westbay has the soul of an artist.

She takes time to appreciate the beauty in the world, whether it’s in the form of cascading waves at Monterey Bay in California — which she recently visited for the first time — or the “unusual time signatures and emotional depth” of jazz music.

She has always had a penchant for mathematics and the sciences, too, though. That’s why she was attracted to the Technological Entrepreneurship and Management Program at Arizona State University.

“I have always liked science and math, as well as the creative arts. So the interdisciplinary approach of the major seemed perfect for me,” she says.

Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, the 18-year-old Barrett Polytechnic student hadn’t even heard of the word “entrepreneurship” until her senior year of high school when she took an introductory college business class online. But, she says, “I instantly knew that I was interested in it.”

Leaving your home country to attend a university halfway across the world might seem intimidating to some, but Westbay knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue higher education outside of Japan.

She demonstrated her commitment by opting out of the Japanese public school system, which she had been in her whole life, and entering an American virtual homeschool program to make her eventual transition to college in the U.S. easier.

Though she encountered some challenges with homeschooling, such as not being able to ask questions easily, Westbay met them head on, taking it upon herself to do the extra work.

“It forced me to go online and find other resources to improve my understanding of many subjects, which enriched my studies,” she says. “And having to rely on myself to schedule my studies improved my study and organizational skills.”

Westbay was accepted into several American universities, but she chose ASU for a number of reasons.

“The different organizations and other opportunities that ASU offers really drew me to this school. … ASU offers practically anything you could think of,” she says.

And she plans to take full advantage of that, having already looked into some of ASU’s various entrepreneurial programs, like the Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

Westbay also looks forward to joining a music ensemble (she has played clarinet since the seventh grade, and also plays some piano, guitar and the Japanese bamboo flute), playing intramural sports and participating in organizations for cultural exchange.

“After homeschooling and being limited to very few extracurricular activities, the huge number of organizations is very exciting, and I am anxious to try new things.”

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