At age 14, Hokuto loses many when both parents are hit by strokes, but turns optimism into strength in adversity

Turning positivity into strength when things look bleak

At age 14, Hokuto Suzuki lost his father who passed away due to subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space between the brain and the tissues that surround it. In just two months after the death of his father, Hokuto’s mother too was hit by the same nightmare, causing her to be disabled for life. Hokuto has three siblings, and these series of unfortunate events were a great shock to the four of them. Despite facing hard times, Hokuto has never once blamed fate for the misfortune that happened to him and his family. Instead, the then teenager worked hard and turned adversity into ambition, earning himself scholarships in high school all the way to graduate school.

“Now that I look back, I want to thank both of my parents for putting me in tough situations. I’m thankful that I’ve learned to be strong and independent at a young age. I’ve also learned to be grateful, optimistic and not to complain,” says Hokuto, who graduated from the School of Sport Sciences and the Graduate School of Sport Sciences after spending six years at Waseda.

When asked who he drew his encouragement from when overcoming bad times, Hokuto said it was former American star basketball player Michael Jordan. Jordan’s father died when he was in the prime of his career. Although he announced his retirement stating that he had lost all desire to play when it became known that his father was murdered, Jordan returned and shined once again in the ring one and a half years later. The story of Michael Jordan’s comeback has inspired Hokuto, who also has a love for sports, particularly basketball. It has constantly reminded Hokuto that he is not alone, and that positivity is the way forward in life.

Bridging Japan and the world

Now working at a Japanese firm called Mitsui since April 2018, Hokuto was active in bridging Japan and the world when he was a student at Waseda University. For instance, he has participated in many international conferences, summits and projects such as the Japan-America Student Conference, Japan-ASEAN Youth Leaders Summit and Kakehashi Project.

In October 2017, Hokuto participated in the Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan, in which participants who are selected after a screening process share and present their views, opinions and explanations on Japanese culture, Japan’s foreign and economic policies, as well as other issues of interest to the people from U.S of different regions. One of the main purposes of the project is to promote exchange and discussion at the grassroots level.

Having a love for sports, Hokuto gave a presentation on Japan’s sports tourism to students, educators and government personnel in the U.S. Hokuto feels that as more Japanese youngsters leave for big cities like Tokyo in face of an ageing population in Japan, sports tourism such as Okinawa’s scuba diving and Hokkaido’s winter sports could help enliven the suburbs and countryside. If successful, it could help spur economic development in Japan and its regional prefectures.

There are many things that can be learned from Hokuto’s perseverance and positivity. As someone who lost so much during childhood, Hokuto has not only overcome the obstacles in his way with optimism, but went on further and turned this positive attitude into strength, helping to bridge his country and the world. He may not be a student at Waseda anymore, but the University wishes him all the best in his future endeavors, at the same time hopes that his contribution to society will continue into the future.

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