By David Yamaguchi The North American Post
For decades, the Seattle Japanese American community has deemed scholarship as the path forward, resulting in many local JA nonprofits establishing scholarship programs with hard-earned dollars. The Seattle Japanese American Citizens League is an example of one such group. It may stand out only in the monetary value of its scholarships, which today range from $3,000 to $5,000.
The scholarships serve two purposes. First, they help students. Second, they introduce promising young people to JA community organizations. While not required, a hope is that a few of the students will later come back to help sponsoring organizations as working adults. It is like planting trees.
Five JACL award winners were selected for 2022 (photo) from over 30 applicants. All were asked to choose among the scholarships available, each established in the memory of notable past Seattle-area Issei, Nisei or Sansei. Applicants then had to write essays on how they share the goals of these predecessors. The educator Aki Kurose is one example of the remembered individuals. JA redress activist Cherry Kinoshita, “who kept the movement going when it was flagging,” is another example.
In selecting the recipients, who also sat for interviews, chapter volunteer Bill Tashima remarked, “After one applicant finished, I told the panel that she made me feel so inadequate… At one point when she was explaining her goals in molecular biology in the field of health care, I literally could not follow her explanation.”
Gabe Shen, graduating from Nathan Hale, was performing as the lead in the school musical, “Pippen,” that night. Ana Tanaka, a UW student in Asian American Studies, hopes to go to law school. Khadija Dial, from Senegal, plans to go into nursing or medicine. Yubi Mamiya is the one heading into a career in science; her recommendation came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Seattle JACL chapter members and guests enjoyed meeting each other and spending a few hours together at the scholarship lunch, held at the Nisei Veterans Hall on Sat May 7. The students also toured the building, to learn more of the Seattle JA past, before stepping out into the spring sunshine and their bright futures.