Berkeley JACL Honors 2017 Scholarship Recipients

Berkeley JACL paid tribute to its scholarship recipients and Pioneer Award honorees at a luncheon on April 30. Pictured are (seated, from left) Junko Taniguchi, Courtney Tamaki, Kelsey Hirota, Rachel Hirota, Martha Castro and Kyra Kawamoto and (standing, from left) Carolyn Adams, Reiko Nabeta, Jonathan Shindo, Mia Li, Cailyn Sakurai, Toshio Steimetz, Amelia Huster, Hope Fa-Kaji, George Kono, Al Satake and Ranko Yamada.

Courtesy of the Pacific Citizen May 5-18, 2017 Issue

The Berkeley JACL chapter awarded scholarships to 12 high school seniors and presented Pioneer Awards to Al Satake and Ranko Yamada during its April 30 awards luncheon held at Richmond Country Club in Richmond, Calif.

The chapter awarded scholarships to 12 high school seniors based upon their academic achievements, community involvement, school activities, work history, JACL involvement, written essay, letter of recommendation and group interview.

This year’s scholarship recipients are:

Martha Castro (College Prep High School) will attend Pomona College and major in molecular biology. She is also the recipient of the Dan/Kathleen Date Memorial Scholarship.

Hope Fa-Kaji (Berkeley High School) will attend Rice University and major in mechanical engineering.

Kelsey Hirota (Berkeley High School) will attend the University of California, San Diego, as a computer science major.

Rachel Hirota (Berkeley High School) will attend the University of California, Davis, as an animal sciences major. She is also the recipient of the Carolyn Adams Family Scholarship.

Amelia Huster (Berkeley High School) will attend the University of California, Santa Cruz, as an undeclared major.

Kyra Kawamoto (Albany High School) will attend the University of Hawaii as a marine biology major.

Mia Li (College Park High School) will attend Seattle University and major in international business.

Akira Roueche (Berkeley High School) will attend California State University, Fullerton, and major in kinesiology.

Cailyn Sakurai (El Cerrito High School) will attend Chapman University as a biological science major.

Toshio Steimetz (Berkeley High School) will attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, as an undeclared major.

Courtney Tamaki (Albany High School) will attend the University of California, Berkeley, as a genetic/genomic development major. She is also the recipient of the Terry Yamashita Memorial Scholarship.

Junko Taniguchi (Lowell High School) will attend Smith College as an undeclared major. She is also the recipient of the Bea Kono Memorial Scholarship.

Also during the awards luncheon, the chapter honored Al Satake and Ranko Yamada with its Pioneer Award, which recognizes those with the vision, compassion and energy to lay a foundation for building the Japanese American community into the active and vibrant one we share today, as well as linking past leaders with our future leaders.

In addition, the chapter recognized longtime major sponsors Union Bank (Dimitry Bokman), Wells Fargo Bank (Vance Oishi/Jonathan Shindo) and memorial scholarship donors from the Beatrice Kono family (George Kono), the Terry Yamashita family (Reiko Nabeta), the Dan/Kathleen Date family (Gail Yamamoto) and the Carolyn Adams Family.

Members of this year’s scholarship committee were Mark Fujikawa, Tiffany Ikeda, Lindsey Kuwahara, Vera Kawamura, Neal Ouye, Al Satake, Sharron Sue and Chair Ron Tanaka.

Berkeley Post-Election Statement

In the wake of a divisive election season, many members of the community are filled with fear and apprehension of the uncertain times ahead.  The rhetoric of this past election has empowered certain individuals to act in accordance with their racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic beliefs. Since the November election, police and advocacy groups reported an increase in violent attacks based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. The Berkeley JACL will not stand idly by or remain silent while members of our community are targeted as victims of violence based on the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their gender identity, or who they love.  We will not allow these types of racist, anti-immigrant, misogynistic, sentiments to be normalized and refuse to accept policies or political rhetoric promoting an agenda of hate and exclusion.

The mission of the Berkeley JACL includes upholding the human and civil rights of all people by strengthening community ties, fostering coalitions, and promoting understanding, respect and appreciation of the rich diversity and contributions of all cultures.  As a chapter of the nation’s oldest and largest Asian-American civil rights organization, the Berkeley JACL stands in a unique position to speak out for the rights of others.  The Japanese American experience is one stained by bigotry and fear when over 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly imprisoned in government-operated concentration camps during World War II solely because of their Japanese ancestry.  In present times, this same bigotry and fear has found a new target in the Muslim American community.  While the target has shifted, we recognize the same sentiments calling for the derogation and segregation of those seen by a wider American audience as the other—groups such as Muslim Americans, immigrants, and the LGBTQ communities.

The Berkeley JACL stands in solidarity with all groups seeking to build a stronger, more inclusive America built on the belief that diversity of experience is what makes America truly great.