Celebrating International Women’s Day with Ms. Namigata


Courtesy of Ms. Namigata

Ulia Zaman, Staff Writer

Ms. Namigata is the Physics Regular and AP Physics teacher at West High School. As a teacher in a field that is dominated by men, Ms. Namigata shares her experiences and what she went through to get to where she is today.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself (eg. hobbies, etc).

A: I love music– I was actually a music minor in college.

One of my hobbies (what I do outside of teaching) is research– I am involved in neurophysics research (centered around what attention and consciousness are, and how memory and navigation may work).

I also love food 🙂  However, my dislikes in food are mainly cucumbers and watermelon.  yes, there’s a story there.


Q: What made you decide to become a teacher?

A: I had, prior to becoming a teacher, been in medical school in Japan for three years.  However, what was interesting was that although I learned a lot of medical science and experienced amazing things [by] living in Japan, I had also noticed that there was a [huge] gender divide, especially in pursuing the sciences in Japan.  Even in medical school there, there was a ratio of 1:5 (women to men) in the M.D. class, and there were gender roles and fixed mindsets that needed to be changed. I came back to the U.S. to UC Berkeley, and just happened upon an education class, and when I went to teach at different schools through the education class, I realized that I could be a teacher who promoted equal access to success in any field (but, especially science).   Even in the U.S., there are still less women in physics than men, but I don’t think that this divide needs to exist at all. I really think there need to be more women in science (especially in physics) everywhere, and I have found it to be my passion to try to show how amazing the world of science and physics is to everybody. Knowledge and discovery should be accessible to everyone, and we should not limit people because of who they are.  I hope I could, as a teacher, convey such a message 🙂


Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A: I think it’s wonderful to have International Women’s Day, because there are still very different standards for women in different countries.  It means we could recognize that women should have a choice in how they contribute to and are a part of society, and also that we should recognize and support the achievement of women all around the world.  There are, in a lot of countries, fixed mindsets about what women’s roles are, and I hope that little by little, these barriers are taken away.


Q: Who is a person that you personally  look up to?

A: I personally look up to my mother.  She is my hero, my friend, and one of the strongest people I know.  She is the one who raised me to believe that I can choose to do whatever I want and that I have the power to support myself and the community/world I live in.

I also have a friend who I admire so much– her name is Jillian Shaw and she has been my friend since we were in middle school.  She got her PhD at USC in neuroscience and continues to pursue education and research to help the

world. She is now applying to a medical program, making her a future M.D./Ph.D!  In her free time, she hikes, does yoga, and climbs mountains!


Q: In terms of the inequalities that women face even today, what do you think is the best way to solve them?

A: We keep pushing for equality!  There have been biases against women joining certain programs or even universities, but if we get more and more of the world to recognize that there are women who can accomplish SO MUCH– these biases will have to go away!  Voicing our opinions as women and being a strong believer that at the end of the day, we are all HUMANS achieving our goals– our gender should not be a limiter.


Q: What do you hope to teach your students? What is one piece of advice that you would want all of your students to walk away with?

A: I hope to tell them that what they are passionate about and what they genuinely strive to accomplish should define who they are.  In other words– Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t be someone or do something just because they think they know who you are by looking at you or judging you superficially!

  Cynthia Ge (11) a current AP Physics student, stated, “I feel like it’s very nice how she really takes the time afterschool to help everyone who has questions. I know she wanted to be a doctor, but then she changed her mind and I feel like having the courage to do that just goes to show how women aren’t as submissive as men think we are. Having the courage to do want you want, it speaks volumes to me as to who she is, as a person and a woman in an industry that is male dominant.”

  With her enthusiasm for teaching and bright personality, Ms. Namigata has become one of the favorite teachers of many students at West High. She has proven that with enough determination and dedication, anyone is able to accomplish their dreams, regardless of gender. She is hopeful that all of her students will leave her class with this message and be able to achieve their dreams as well.