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The importance of education informs Aileen Kawagoe’s life view, although early on she turned down the chance to become an educator like her father.

While in high school, Kawagoe declined a scholarship that could have led to an opportunity to study education at Cambridge or Oxford University. “My parents wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer or teacher, something safe, but I was attracted to nonprofit organizations or the United Nations,” Kawagoe says with laughter. “I wasn’t exactly an activist, but I was young and idealistic, and I wanted to make a difference.”

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