The organization announces 13 winners of its annual scholarship program for 2020.
WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Veterans Assn. announced recently 13 winners of its annual scholarship award program for 2020. Outstanding students from around the country applied for the scholarships. This year’s recipients were incredibly talented and accomplished, each worthy of continuing the legacy of the Nisei service to country, despite facing tremendous obstacles placed by their government.
The $5,000 memorial scholarship honoring the late-U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s iconic career of military and civilian public service was awarded to T. J. Okamura of Redmond, Wash.
The grandson of George Okamura, 442nd RCT, T. J. Okamura is currently a U.S. Army Specialist in the Military Intelligence Corps. This fall, he will begin working on a master’s degree in international studies with a focus on Japan at the University of Washington. He will also participate in the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while concurrently enrolled at the University of Washington.
In his essay, he wrote, “It is one of my ultimate goals that whatever I do will give back to the community that shaped who I am … . [Being the] recipient of the Daniel Inouye Memorial Scholarship would be an honor that I hope to carry forward for all Japanese Americans.”
The $3,000 Founder’s Scholarship, named for JAVA’s founder, the late-Col. Phil Ishio, his wife Constance and their son, Douglas Ishio, was awarded to Caitlin Emi Takeda of Northridge, Calif.
The granddaughter of Harry Arita, MIS, Takeda recently completed her senior year at Brown University and will begin her first year at Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School this fall.
For her undergraduate senior thesis project, she made two summer pilgrimages to Heart Mountain, where she documented and photographed Nisei she met.
In her application, Takeda wrote, “[By] the end of the two summers, I had taken the photo of over 30 Nisei. I compiled these photos into a photobook that I titled, ‘Nisei.’ It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices that my grandfather’s generation made so that I could live a safe and happy life, and as a way to honor my grandfather’s legacy. I plan on giving a copy of the book to each of the internees who is featured. Giving back to the older Japanese American generations is something that I plan on doing for the rest of my life.”
The Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship, a $2,000 award in honor of a longtime patron of JAVA, was awarded to Rhian Kohashi O’Rourke, the granddaughter of Hiroshi Kohashi, 442nd RCT.
O’Rourke, a graduate of Wellesley College, was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Research Grantee in Amman, Jordan. She currently attends Johns Hopkins University and is pursuing an MBA and MA in government.
After she finishes her dual-degree program, O’Rourke’s goal is to do public health-care research and advocacy. In her essay, she shared, “[Pursuing] a graduate degree has reawakened my hope that I can create a better future for myself and positively contribute to society. … Because my grandfather was a member of the 442nd, this scholarship holds special meaning for me. Despite his permanent disability from the war, my grandfather’s motto was, ‘Do the best you can.’”
The following JAVA Memorial Scholarships were awarded to graduating high school seniors, each in the amount of $1,500:
- Kiara Emi Kubota Stromberg, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Dr. Americo Bugliani and his liberator, Paul Sakamoto, 442nd RCT.
- Chloe Elyse Hana Nelson, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Ranger Grant Hiro Hirabayashi, MIS.
- Sophia Daniel, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Co.. Jimmie Kanaya, a three-year veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
- Kylie Reiko Ginoza, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of CWO 4 Mitsugi Murakami Kasai, MIS.
- Helena Kimiko Nukuto, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Sgt. Ben Kuroki, a gunner in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 505th Bombardment Group.
- Camille Yuriko Tom, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Victor Matsui, MIS, and his wife, Teru Matsui.
- Dawson Hideo Gomez Tokishi, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of past JAVA President and Korean War veteran Bob Nakamoto.
- Joseph Paul Nakasone, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarhsip in honor of Maj. Muneo Michael Okusa, MIS.
- Sarah Keiko Sakakihara, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Betty Shima, lifelong partner of Terry Shima, 442nd RCT.
- Grace Xiang Bost, recipient of a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in honor of Maj. Orville Shirey, 442nd RCT, and his wife, Maud Shirey.
JAVA thanks the Scholarship Committee: Chris DeRosa, chair; Dawn Eilenberger, CDR Jannelle Kuroda, Capt. (Dr.) Cynthia Macri and Mary Murakami.
To learn more about JAVA and its scholarship program, visit www.java-us.org.