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Shuji Otsuka

Shuji Otsuka headshot

Shuji manages the Midquarter Mentored Study Group program.

Shuji joined ASLA’s staff in 2022 after managing the Tutoring Program for Northwestern’s Department of Athletics and Recreation while also serving as the Department’s Learning Strategist and liaison to AccessibleNU.  After starting his teaching career at Northwestern’s History Department in 2000, he went on to teach a variety of undergraduate courses in history, gender, and comparative ethnic studies at the University of Oregon, North Central College, and the University of Maryland, College Park.  Born in Japan and raised in Los Angeles, Shuji earned a bachelor's degree in social history from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s in history from Northwestern.  His publications and research address transnational topics on the Korean War, U.S-Japan Educational Exchanges, and Asian Immigration.


  • What is most meaningful to you about your work?  
    • Through ASLA’s programing, I have the opportunity to enhance, among others, first generation and minority student success in STEM courses, thereby promoting student academic achievement that contribute to Northwestern’s national reputation.
  • What’s some advice you would give to your college-age self? 
    • Academic failure is never anyone’s identity; rather, it is an all-too-common learning process, a necessary and key ingredient on the road to academic advancement.    
  • What is a prior life experience that you draw on in your work?   
    • When I first realized that standards of academic excellence were inextricably linked to structural inequality (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc), I was devastated and felt my own hard work being undermined by forces beyond my control.  But this very contingent definition of academic success has allowed me to see the resilience, brilliance, and courageousness of marginalized students and scholars that continue to shape my teaching and management styles.      
  • What’s something you enjoy when you’re not at work?
    • I love to read widely but nonsequentially in the humanities and social sciences.  I cannot stick to just reading one or two books at a time; I am reader of twenty to fifty books in parallel, depending on what mood I am in, and I often do not finish books.  I am a proponent of this type of eclectic, unfocused leisurely reading that wrestles the reading process away from the realms of studying, information gathering, and scholarly elitism.