Senior selected for Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program

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Headshot of Thomas Anthony Neely
Thomas Anthony Neely. Photo by Leah Yetter

MACON – Mercer University senior Thomas Anthony Neely was selected for the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and will serve as an Assistant English Language Teacher (ALT) in Japan for at least a year. 

The JET Program is a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work throughout Japan while representing the United States as cultural ambassadors. Founded in 1987, JET has sent more than 77,000 participants from around the globe to work in schools, boards of education and government offices throughout Japan. 1,000-1,100 U.S. applicants are selected each year.

ALTs work in public and private schools throughout Japan and assist with classes taught by Japanese Teachers of English/Language (JTEs/JTLs). ALTs assist in preparing teaching materials and in extracurricular activities like English clubs or sports teams. Neely said he is excited to participate in the JET program and hopes to continue promoting global diversity in his future career.

“I spent two semesters and a spring break studying abroad in the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy,” said Neely. “It gave me a love of international travel and interacting with diverse cultures. I enjoyed exploring the world on an engaged person-to-person level. I only had this experience because of support from the host institutions and Mercer University’s Office of Global Education, and I want to have a similar impact in promoting cultural exchange.”

Neely, from Midway, is double-majoring in marketing and creative writing with a minor in psychology. He was also named an alternate for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to South Korea and may receive an award if additional funding becomes available.

At Mercer University, Neely is a general staff member and the marketing team leader for The Dulcimer, Mercer’s literary and visual arts magazine. He is also a mentor in the Opportunity Scholars Program, a senior senator on SGA, vice president of honor society Phi Eta Sigma, VP of scholarships and awards in the Alpha Tau chapter of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, a study abroad ambassador, a peer tutor in the Academic Resource Center and a writing preceptor for Dr. Crescent Rainwater, an English lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Thomas is a fantastic writing preceptor and highly qualified for this position,” said Dr. Rainwater. “He explains challenging writing concepts with lucidity and clarity, and he also designs creative lessons that turn seemingly mundane writing tasks into enjoyable activities. Thomas’s writing instruction is relatable, relevant and effective, and I have been very lucky to work with him for two semesters.”

Founded in 1987, JET has sent more than 77,000 participants from around the globe, including more than 35,800 Americans, to work in schools, boards of education and government offices throughout Japan. Some 1,000-1,100 U.S. applicants are selected each year.