About Alumni

SUA Graduate School Alumni Association Mottos
1. Contribute to the development of SUA and proliferation of Soka education, embracing the University’s mottos and principles.
2. Create great value in all aspects of our lives for the sake of humanity and society.
3. Foster true camaraderie among Soka students and alumni.
4. Be life-long learners that reveal our true potential.

About the Alumni
The alumni group name "Soseikai" was given to us by the Founder on May 3, 2001.

So is from Soka (Value Creation), Sei means “pledge” or “vow” and Kai is “group” in Japanese. The name itself and the speeches presented to us show the Founder’s hopes and expectations for us as we continue to work toward actualizing Soka Education in the world.

As of May 2012, there are 101 Soka University of America (SUA) graduate school alumni members representing 16 countries throughout the world. These countries include Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Portugal, and Venezuela. After graduating from SUA, many alumni members put roots down in foreign countries, including New Zealand, Russia, Thailand and United Kingdom, away from their native countries.

After graduating from the MA program at SUA, almost all Graduate School alumni have since pursued careers within the education field. Within the ranks of Graduate School alumni, 33 currently hold a faculty position at an institution of higher education. Examples of such institutions of higher education include the University of Central Arkansas, University of Indiana, California State University, Voronezh State University (Russia), Kansai Gaidai University (Japan) as well as SUA’s sister campuses, Soka University (Japan) and Soka Women’s College (Japan). 

As many as 17 Graduate School alumni are teaching future SUA students at high schools all over the world. An additional 22 are educating students of all ages at places like British Council India, the University of Texas, and the University of Southern California.

There are 9 GS alumni studying in doctoral programs and 4 alumni who have already earned their PhDs or EdDs. There are 6 alumni earning additional Master’s degrees, and 8 of whom have already completed their additional MAs.

While many graduates have continued to explore the field of education, some have ventured into various fields such as accounting, library science, public relations, movie production, political science, and information technology. Also, many have started families and taken on important roles as parents in raising the next generation of Soka students and educators. Regardless of the paths they have chosen, all of the Soseikai members agree that the time spent at the Graduate School has changed the course of their lives.
The university and all that it stands for remain in the hearts of the Soseikai members.

The first 12 classes, 96 graduates studied at the SUA Calabasas campus where the Graduate School opened in 1994. After the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2006, the campus was closed, and the program was successfully moved to the Aliso Viejo campus. It has been in operation at the new location since the summer of 2007. 

Amidst cultural, political and economical changes, Founder Daisaku Ikeda’s speeches to the SUA Graduate School have remained constant and relevant in their expression of the founding spirit of Soka University of America. Put simply, in the Founder’s words, the founding spirit is this: “Our challenge is to change the world through education.” And our mission is to “foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life.”

With each graduating class, the SUA Graduate School is fostering individuals who contribute to society and, in the words of 2001 commencement speaker, Maria Guajardo Lucero, “are trained as teachers, not just in a substantive field, like physics or history or law, but in the art of teaching.” Being that the program focuses on teaching a second or foreign language, SUA graduates are in essence “at the intersection, where education meets diverse and foreign cultures, where peoples with different languages and backgrounds come together.”

Moreover, as Mary K. Norton aptly said in her 1999 speech to the graduates, SUA students “have chosen to be more than mere passengers on the planet” and are determined to “have a profound impact on the quality of humanity in the next century.” “Through the teaching of language,” the SUA Graduate School alumni are also determined to “bring about opportunities for humankind to settle its differences through dialogue and discussion rather than destruction.”

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi gave birth to the concept of value creating education or Soka Education based on a philosophy which believes in the infinite potential of the individual. Makiguchi and his protégé, Josei Toda, experienced imprisonment for opposing the policies of the Japanese militarist regime during World War II. Makiguchi died in prison at the age of 73. Determined to prove his mentor’s correctness, on his release from prison at the end of WWII, Toda began to reconstruct the Soka Gakkai organization determined to create Soka schools based on Makiguchi’s ideas in the future. Toda’s successor, Daisaku Ikeda, inherited their dreams and first created an education system in Soka University Los Angeles (SULA) opened in 1987 with great hopes to start an undergraduate program.

SULA started as a branch campus of the Soka University in Japan to provide ESL instruction for students visiting fromGradually, the University began to offer other language classes for American students and became an institution that brought people of various backgrounds together in one place. However, due to political and environmental issues, the reality of establishing a four-year liberal arts college in Calabasas became grim. But SULA did not give up. Despite the many obstacles, the University continued to persevere in order to realize Soka Education in America.

Through the unflagging and courageous efforts of those always keeping the Founder's vision in their hearts, especially Dr. Tomoko Takahashi as its founding Dean, the Graduate School opened in 1994. Without the care and altruistic concern put forth by many compassionate people, the school would
not be what it is today.

In February 1994, when the University received degree-granting approval from the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE) for the state of California, and its name was changed to Soka University of America (SUA) to be distinguished as a freestanding independent institution separate from the Soka University in Japan. This was a monumental step in starting an undergraduate program at SUA. It was not an easy process, and it did not happen overnight. However, each footstep solidified the foundation for a magnificent, long-dreamed of four-year university to build upon.

Although unable to create an undergraduate program in Calabasas, in 2001 SUA expanded to Aliso Viejo in Orange County with the opening of the liberal arts college. Founder Daisaku Ikeda stated in his message at the opening ceremony:

I would like to offer my particular appreciation to the past and present graduate students as well as
the faculty and staff of SUA, Calabasas, for the many efforts, seen and unseen, which you have
exerted to assure the success of today's departure. I will never, for all eternity, forget the pure and
precious love for your alma mater that your efforts embody. You all are the “founders” of Soka
University of America. As your fellow practitioner of value-creating education, I embrace the
greatest imaginable faith and trust in you.

The future is boundless for Soka University of America. As alumni of SUA, we have the unique opportunity to share and support the Founder’s vision in his endeavor to change the world through education.

In the 1996 commencement message, the Founder encouraged us to continue our challenges, “That which is created with little effort crumbles easily. Only things that have been built though great effort, into which heart and soul have been poured, can withstand the trials of time and will continue to shine far into the future.”

Keeping this in our hearts, we, as the proud alumni of SUA, pledge to continue making our utmost efforts to respond to the Founder’s expectations. By ever improving ourselves and helping others to do the same, we will contribute to creating a peaceful world.

Soka University of America Graduate School Alumni Association: Soseikai
May, 2012

MISSION STATEMENT

The Association shall be committed to the following principles:
1. Be global citizens committed to living a contributive life. Live up to our mission as leaders of our times for the sake of the people.
2. Be proud supporters of SUA, build networks or friendship for the sake of Soka Education. Our greatest honor to repay our debt of gratitude to our Alma Mater.
3. Be forever Young Founders. Protect and preserve SUA's Founding Spirit.

ABOUT ALUMNI
The Young Founders’ Proud Insignia
By Gonzalo Obelleiro

The first year of the SUA-AV-AA Development Committee faced Grace Christianson, Mitsuhiro Kawahara and I with the many and (at least some) unexpected responsibilities of the institutional
founding of the AA. This was a task to be tackled through perseverance and industriousness; so we met weekly over the phone and worked through the details of writing the by-laws and bringing our imagination of the mission of this association down to the hard facts of rules, regulations, legal responsibilities, deadlines and the like. It was in the context of this, however solemn, arid landscape that I jumped to the mission of creating the logo of the AA filled with excitement.

The premise was simple; we needed a logo that was unique, original, yet conserved a strong visual connection with the Alma Mater. Grace Katchan and I discussed the matter in one of our meetings and agreed to follow the same criteria employed for the development of SUA’s logo. As we all know, SUA’s logo is a variation on the original logo of Soka University: the circular frame with the words “Soka University of America” was added. I thought we could do something like that, and that a potentially good option would be the shape of a shield for an alternative frame, considering that shields have historically been part of the imagery of institutions of higher learning.

Around that time, Simon Hoffding visited me in New York and we went through a long list of samples, but none of the shield shapes that we found work really well with the winged pen of Soka. One evening, after having tried many variations unsuccessfully, I retreated into a state of contemplation of the Soka logo and I saw an inverted triangle operating as underlying structure. I thought it most auspicious symbolically, since three are the founders of Soka Education. I created, then an inverted triangle to frame the winged pen, but I made the sides not straight lines, but sections of a circle, to establish a resemblance with SUA’s circular logo. The idea was so simple that it worked perfectly without the need of any ornaments. When I showed the design to Grace and Kacchan, they immediately approved of it. For a couple of weeks we discussed about the symbolic meaning of the logo, particularly about the number three. From those discussions the triad of Founder, University, Alumni as the development of the project of Soka Education emerged. First, Soka Education was only a vision in the education philosophy of the Founder. Then, its foundations were established with the University. However, its meliorating purpose is only fulfilled when the Alumni go out into the world to make the ideals of Soka Education a reality. In this way, we concluded from our discussions, is that the SUA-AV-AA logo represents the completion of the triad, the fulfillment of the great project of the
establishment of a humanistic global society through education.

It was only later, when we adopted the official name, that we crowned the triangular shield with a ribbon reading “Young Founders” decorated with blue and gold, the colors of SUA.