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."

Different, but with a common link: Kawagoe, the moderator and editor for the popular Yahoo! group and blog, Education in Japan, witnessed firsthand the importance of education in the days following the March 11 Tohoku earthquake, when the sensationalized headlines of foreign media and lack of reliable information turned her website into a lifeline for many members.