F&M Stories

Chilamo Taylor ’24 Forges Unique Path to Japan

How did football and fashion lead Franklin & Marshall senior Chilamo Taylor to a prestigious postgraduate fellowship in Japan?

An exchange student opportunity in high school first piqued Taylor’s interest in the country, where he hoped to study streetwear in Tokyo. But he left Japan with a desire to learn more about the language and culture. 

This summer, Taylor will move to Miyagi for a yearlong Princeton in Asia (PiA) fellowship at Niizawa Brewery to learn all aspects of the sake brewing and production process.

After living with a Tokyo host family in 2019, Taylor set his sights on returning in college. That goal was made possible through F&M’s Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) Summer Experience Funding and the Honaman Award. 

The awards “allowed me to not only go back to Japan, but also gave me the flexibility to engage in a very niche internship while in Japan,” Taylor said. His special studies major comprises business, Japanese and history. 

Chilamo Taylor '24

Taylor spent summer 2023 working with two professional football teams in Hiroshima through the Danketsu Project, founded by alumni mentor Alvin “A.J.” Koikoi ’16, a training officer at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). 

Danketsu (which translates to “unity” in Japanese) forges cross-cultural connections between student-athletes in Japan and U.S. sports teams. In 2017, Koikoi was awarded a Carriebright Fellowship, PiA’s post-fellowship grant for service projects, to grow the Danketsu project. 

The opportunity proved to be the perfect fusion of football and language studies for Taylor, a linebacker for the Diplomats varsity football team.

As his senior year winds down, Taylor is excited to apply the lessons learned on the field and in the classroom to PiA. 

“Football is finite. It’s a passion of mine. It's a big part of my life. But it's going to come to an end,” he said. “I would rather be someone who takes the skills and the lessons from the sport and pairs them with the skills and the lessons learned from academics and social life moving forward into the world.”

Learn more about Taylor below. 

Chilamo Taylor in an Oct. 2022 football game against Dickinson College.

Chilamo Taylor ’24

  • Hometown: Washington, D.C.
  • Major: Special studies (business, Japanese and history)
  • Activities on campus: Varsity football, rugby

Your combined major (business, Japanese and history) is unique. Why did you choose these fields of study?

I chose to combine my separate academic interests to come up with something that would prepare me for my postgraduate goal of living in Japan. I have always had an interest in business, but I wanted to create a major that included my Japanese language studies and also a more cultural approach to learning about Japan through history. 

All of my professors here have been in full support of everything that I've been trying to do. I appreciate having the opportunity to make my own major, because I could sculpt something that I feel like I could really take with me.

Why do you have a particular interest in Japan and the Japanese language? 

My interest in Japan developed when I traveled to Japan in 2019 with the [Sidwell Friends School] Voices of Peace Project. I stayed with a wonderful family who showed me a glimpse of what it was like to live in Japan, and after I came home from the trip, I knew I wanted to go back. I immediately began trying to find ways to get back to Japan when I started at F&M. 

Why did you choose to attend F&M?

I chose to attend F&M because I wanted to develop into a well-rounded person and scholar-athlete. I wanted to be able to connect with professors and peers in the classroom while pursuing one of my passions through football. The academic flexibility at F&M has allowed me to create my own major and take more initiative in my academic experience. 

I was not looking at a lot of liberal arts schools. But when I visited for a football recruiting day, the athletes seemed really well-rounded. I appreciated the multidimensional aspect of every individual I talked to. That was really something I wanted to be a part of. 

"The academic flexibility at F&M has allowed me to create my own major and take more initiative in my academic experience."

Chilamo Taylor '24

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