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Hector Cardenas '20

International Affairs and Japanese double major

The professors here are really your biggest fans here! I love that they encourage you to get above and beyond by challenging yourself or seeking opportunities.


International Affairs and Japanese


Painesville, Ohio

Choosing Mount

I learned about Mount Union through receiving an informational card in the mail and then I learned more through an admission representative who came to my high school. After learning about the programs that Mount had to offer, especially Japanese as a major since many schools in Ohio do not offer it as a major, I decided to visit campus in order to explore what else Mount had to offer. Once I completed my first visit, I was drawn to Mount Union even more. The campus, the programs, and the people! I was very excited to begin my journey at Mount and took advantage of experiencing Mount for a day by doing an overnight stay. I got to not only experience a slice of dorm life at Mount but also experience the classroom environment and that really solidified my commitment to attend Mount. When starting to explore our options for education after high school, one of the biggest factors when it comes to attending an institution is cost. However, with Mount Union, the Minority Achievement Award that I received, and an outside scholarship helped bring down the cost of attendance and made it more affordable for to pursue higher education.

Loving a Second Home

It’s the bonds that you make while you are at Mount Union that makes it feel like a home. I have created bonds with so many people from all walks of life and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of individuals to be friends with. They are there for me when I need them. However, it’s not only the people that I am close to. It’s also the Mount community as a whole. There is always someone on campus that you can go to if you have a question or concern. If you need something, there are resources on-campus that will ensure you can still be on top of your game at Mount. The professors here are really your biggest fans here! I love that they encourage you to get above and beyond by challenging yourself or seeking opportunities. Furuhata-Sensei has encouraged me to further my Japanese skills outside the classroom and seek to take the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). The student organizations I’m involved with really helped me get adjusted to college life. Going into college life, I had an open mindset from the very beginning and I was prepared to build my independence up by living on-campus away from my family. However, even though I enjoy building up my independence, I miss my family at times. I also didn’t want to feel isolated from the campus itself. In order to help with this isolation, I looked to student organizations that aligned with my interests and got me more situated on campus. Of course, the people at Mount Union make it so distinct from any other place. But to also add onto that, Mount Union’s open commitment to educate people from all walks of life really stood out to me and I wanted to be part of that. Mount Union is a place where you will be accepted regardless of your national origin, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

Deciding a Path

With Japanese, I didn’t have any previous experience to build upon. I had no high school instruction and I only took Spanish as my language in high school. Prior to coming to Mount, I only had a few months of self-teaching experience in Japanese. The reason why I decided to pursue Japanese as a major is because I was fascinated by the culture and had a desire to go to Japan! As for international affairs, I decided to major in it because the world is such an amazing place with all sorts of wonderful cultures that are waiting to be experienced. Having an open mind and an appreciation for other cultures, it was a no-brainer to major in international affairs for me. It is important to understand how nations interact with each other and what that can bring about in the future.  My dream is to work for the FBI because I want to be able to help those around me and protect the ones that I love. However, I also have an interest in being a police officer as well! I used to be in a law enforcement exploring program (2012-2016) with the Miami Township Police Department back in the Loveland, Ohio area and I absolutely loved being able to interact with all kinds of people and help the community. The classes I have taken at Mount have provided me with a deeper appreciation of the community (and world) around me and with skills that can be applied when working for a law enforcement agency.

Advice for the Future 

Be who you want to be at Mount Union. Know that you will be loved here at Mount and that you will succeed! Be who you want to be by taking advantage of student organizations that you feel best represent you and even try a class on a topic that is of interest to you. Let that curiosity in you thrive and don’t be afraid to explore!