BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Wesleyan University graduating senior Natalie Kuca ’21
has been awarded the 2021 Technos International Prize, which recognizes a student
who has excelled academically and has contributed to broadening international awareness
“I'm really grateful to receive the Technos Prize, and I feel that it's a symbol of
encouragement from the IWU community,” said Kuca. “There's always more work I want
to do in the field but I'm proud to have my initial efforts acknowledged and celebrated,
and I want to take my acceptance of this award as a sign that I'm on the right track
and that I need to keep working hard.”
Kuca is an international studies major with a minor in Japanese studies. In high school, Kuca studied Japanese and studied abroad with a sister school
in Shiga, Japan, so it was a natural continuation to study Japanese at the college
“I knew by junior year of high school that I wanted to major in international relations
and/or international studies because I felt that those programs incorporated history,
culture, politics, and languages in a unique way and incorporated everything I was
interested in within those fields,” Kuca explained.
During her time at IWU, Kuca has remained active. For three years, she worked as a
student assistant to the Greek and Roman Studies Department, International Office,
and Study Abroad Office. Kuca has interned with the World Friendship Center in Japan
and the Japan America Society of Chicago. She also previously taught at Eye Level
of Northbrook and currently teaches at Kiddie Academy of Park Ridge.
Kuca notes two major highlights of her time at IWU: Participating in the Kappa Delta
sorority and the IWU Freeman Asia Internship Program. As a council member for Kappa Delta, Kuca said she gained valuable leadership experience,
confidence, and a network of supportive friends.
During the summer of 2019, Kuca interned for six weeks at the World Friendship Center
in Japan as part of the Freeman Asia Program.
“I learned so much about peace-related activities at the local level,” Kuca recalled.
“At the World Friendship Center, I was able to hear testimonials from 10 hibakusha,
atomic bomb survivors, which was an incredible experience that put a lot into perspective
for me. Being an American in Hiroshima and hearing the stories of the war was very
uncomfortable and intimidating, but I was able to take the opportunity to learn and
grow as a result, which made my internship the experience of a lifetime.”
The prestigious Technos International Prize is presented by the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational
Trust in Japan. The Trust was founded by Kenji Tanaka, who created it in the spirit
of improving international relations all around the world. The award promotes those
ideals and recognizes IWU students who, through their work and actions, strive to
ensure an atmosphere of global understanding. The prize consists of a certificate
and a package of gifts inspired by traditional Japanese art and culture.