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Featured Alumna Changing the World, my graduate studies at Ritsumeikan APU

Thank you for featuring me as an alumna Changing the World, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University!

Studying for my Master's and Ph.D. in community development and governance at APU in Japan was a monumental decision and I treasure the cultural experiences and international perspective studying abroad has given me.

The insights about poverty, housing, and homelessness I gained while conducting research and evaluation at APU and as a representative to the United Nations for the International Association for Community Development continue to shape how I approach my consulting work for nonprofits and corporations here in #OurCommunity in Southwest Florida.

I am honored and incredibly grateful to APU for providing me with the foundation to pursue my passion for community development, the opportunity to work with civil society leaders and government officials from more than 25 countries, and the incredible cultural and social insights I gained during my studies there.

My advise to current students at Ritsumeikan APU - take it all in, one day you will miss it!

Read the Feature from APU Below:

Ready to fight for change in the world, APU master’s/Ph.D. alumna and UN

Representative runs for US Congress.

APU alumni Dr. Cindy Banyai’s (GSA ’07 and GSA ‘10) path to congressional candidate was fueled by her passion to serve communities and her willingness to fight for the benefit of others. With the help of a well-earned MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) scholarship, Cindy came to APU to study international cooperation under Professor Koichi Miyoshi. The program led to field work around the world in which she learned about community development and governance. During these years, she facilitated JICA trainings for rural development and community capacity—all while working as a professional boxer in Fukuoka!

Her fighting spirit along with lessons learned at APU followed Cindy into the next steps of her career. She began by helping governments throughout the world design policy to alleviate poverty and then became a representative to the United Nations for the International Association for Community Development. For more than twelve years, she has helped nonprofits both in the US and abroad through her own consulting company, Banyai Evaluation and Consulting, LLC, headquartered in Florida. Now, Cindy is taking the commitment to community and skillful collaboration she learned at APU to the next level as she steps into a new challenge: her second run for a seat in Congress to serve Southwest Florida.

Previously, she was a Democratic nominee for the US House of Representatives in 2020, and now Cindy plans to try again in the 2022 election by building on her first campaign’s platform. Her slogan? “Our water, our health, our community.” She is a relentless fighter and a servant leader who continues to raise the voices of the unheard.

Of APU, Cindy says both the academic and social aspects of student life were essential to her success. Understanding different perspectives and honing the skill of collaboration are experiences she remembers even now. To current APU students, she advises, “Take it all in. One day you will miss it.”

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