Alum, Google Executive Creates Liberal Arts Scholarship
Penn State alumnus and Google executive Jay Yonamine has created an endowment for students in the College of Liberal Arts and in need of financial assistance. The James Yonamine Undergraduate Scholarship, which totals $50,000, will be funded by his donation and Google’s 1:1 matching program.
Yonamine said he created the scholarship as a way to “pay Penn State back for all it did for me,” referencing the key role it played in his journey to leading the data science and operations team in Google’s global patents organization.
Yonamine has a passion for understanding “what makes people do what they do.” This need for answers led him to studying political science as an undergraduate at Middlebury College and then later to Penn State for his master’s and doctorate degrees.
However, despite his interest in understanding people and predicting their behavior, Yonamine didn’t want to go into academia when he finally graduated. This made it hard for him to find a university for grad school that suited his interests and faculty that supported his goals, but he was able to find it in Penn State.
“Penn State was different,” Yonamine said. “They welcomed me with those conditions and were very helpful in setting me on the path for a career outside academia.”
Along with continuing to study political science, this path included a double-minor with the Social Data Analytics program (SODA) and computational methods. While attending Penn State, his advisors allowed him to fully pursue his other interests by taking classes outside of the department, which is typically not allowed at other universities.
“Given that my education was free and given how much the department supported me, I felt very indebted to give back,” he said. “My hope is to provide support for someone from an underrepresented group who maybe doesn’t even know these options are out there.”
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