The Community Congratulates the Class of 2016
Head Table (L to R) Reverend David Komeiji, Ariko Iso, Consul General Kojiro Uchiyama, Mrs. Karen Uchiyama & Jeff Selby
By Heidi Kimiko Tolentino
The 69th Japanese American Community Graduation Banquet was held at the Multnomah Athletic Club on May 1, 2016. The program was opened by Emcee, Jeff Selby, and the invocation was given by Reverend David Komeiji of the Buddhist Henjyoji Temple. The graduates were also congratulated by the new Consul General of Japan, Kojiro Uchiyama, who encouraged the students to continue to be part of the positive relationship between Japan and the United States.
This year’s keynote speaker, Ariko Iso, is the Head Football Trainer for the Oregon State football team. She joined the OSU staff in 2011 after spending nine years on the staff of the 6-time Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers. She is the first female athletic trainer in the NFL and at OSU and has distinguished herself as both a superb trainer and an inspiration to young women hoping to break into male dominated professions.
In her presentation, Ms. Iso spoke directly to the graduates. She told them that as a high school student in Japan, she aspired to be an athletic trainer, but there was no sports medicine in Japan at that time. So, with the support and encouragement of her parents, she left Japan after high school and moved to Oregon to attend Oregon State University.
Ms. Iso outlined the opportunities that she earned through her hard work and dedication that eventually led to working for multiple universities and the NFL. She challenged the graduates to find what they love and to pursue it. To travel, learn about other cultures, learn new languages and have new experiences. She then spoke to the parents of the graduates and encouraged them to allow their children to go where they want to go, as her parents had, in pursuit of their dreams.
The presentation of the scholarship winners followed Ms. Iso’s inspiring speech. The first award was the Shokookai of Portland Scholarship. Shokookai was founded in 1966 and facilitates business operations for Japanese companies in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It also links Japanese based businesses with the Office of the Consulate General.
This year’s Shokookai of Portland Scholarship winner was Robert Naemura from Cleveland High School. Robert has a 4.0 G.P.A, is an IB student and has been a captain of Cleveland’s Basketball team for four years. He will be majoring in Biology in college.
The Japanese Ancestral Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Nikkei community and to promote education and fellowship among the members of the Nikkei community. JAS awards five scholarships:
The Satsuki Azumano Scholarship was established by George Azumano, the founder of Azumano Travel. Mr. Azumano created the scholarship in memory of his mother, Satsuki, who encouraged both of her children to pursue higher education.
This year’s recipient was Saki Nakai from West Linn High School. Saki is a member of two honor societies, has lettered in Track and Field and Cross Country and was named All-State, 1st Violin in the Orchestra. She will major in Mathematics in college.
Hide Naito was a Portland entrepreneur who started his first of several businesses in 1921 which diversified during his lifetime into retail operations, importing and real-estate development.
This year’s winner of the Hide Naito scholarship was Youta Kashiwa of South Ridge High School. Youta has distinguished himself as an AP Scholar and an All-State Honor Band member. Youta hopes to pursue both Engineering and Music in college.
The Mary K. Naito Scholarship debuted this year and is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Verne Naito. Mary K. Naito was a homemaker, community volunteer, businesswoman and high school Valedictorian.
The winner of the Mary K. Naito Scholarship was Ikumi Yano of South Ridge High School. Ikumi is a member of the National Honor Society, the Key Club and the Captain of the Southridge Varsity Volleyball team. Ikumi hopes to pursue a career in International Business.
The Alice Sumida Scholarship also debuted this year and is sponsored by Alice Sumida, who is 101 years old this year and an integral part of Portland’s Nikkei community.
The winner of the Alice Sumida Scholarship was Alyssa Ono of Camas High School. Alyssa is a National Merit Commended Scholar, a member of the Key Club, and the President of Unite People, the JACL’s youth group. Alyssa hopes to pursue her interest in Psychology in college.
Tsuya Minamoto emigrated from Japan in 1915 and endured being incarcerated during WWII. Tsuya’s daughter, Mary, created this scholarship to keep the memory of her mother alive.
The winner of the Tsuyu Minamoto Scholarship was Jessica Nagae of Central Catholic High School. Jessica is an accomplished soccer and softball player and she volunteers with Ikoi No Kai, a multi-generational community project that serves weekly senior lunches. Jessica hopes to study Kinesiology in college.
Portland JACL has been supporting Civil Rights since 1928 and manages four scholarships:
Kiyoko Yumibe was a hard-working Nisei who was incarcerated during WWII. She established a fund, through Portland JACL, to help support youth seeking higher education.
The winner of this year’s Kiyoko Yumibe scholarship was Joy Yuzuriha from Mountain View High School. Joy is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a leader in Girl Scouts, an award winning musician and a star pupil with Sahomi Tachibana’s School of Dance. Joy will be majoring in Computer Science in college.
Yoshiko Kennedy used her talents as a seamstress and master of Ikebana to ensure her children would receive an education. The Yoshiko Kennedy Scholarship was created in her memory.
This year’s winner of the Yoshiko Kennedy Scholarship was Kinai Kiyokawa of Hockinson High School. Kinai is in the school’s honors program and Key Club, is the team captain of his basketball team and also plays saxophone in the Wind Ensemble, Pit Orchestra and Symphonic Band. He will be pursuing a Pharmaceutical degree in college.
Mathew Masuoka was a Nisei dentist who was a past President of Portland JACL and a Pacific NW District Governor. This award is given in his honor by his wife, Nobuko Masuoka.
The winner of the Matt Masuoka Scholarship was Lilia Jennings from Columbia River High School. Lilia is a member of the Key Club and an avid volunteer. Lilia aspires to be a teacher and will be an education major next year.
The Portland JACL administers a scholarship in the name of Mabel Shoji Boggs. Her generosity to high school students, Portland Taiko and the Minidoka Swing Band has benefited the Nikkei community in many ways. State Farm also generously donates to this scholarship, and many other Portland JACL programs.
The winner of the Mabel Boggs/State Farm Scholarship was Taylor Ishida of Grant High School. Taylor is an honor roll student who has worked on the staff for Grant Magazine, played soccer all four years, and volunteers at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Taylor’s goal is to pursue Biomedical Engineering in college.
The Gresham-Troutdale JACL is part of the oldest national civil rights organization in America. It serves to protect the rights of not only Asians, but all minorities and nurtures the cultural heritage of Japanese Americans.
The winner of the Gresham-Troutdale JACL Scholarship was Andrew Asakawa of the International School of Beaverton. Andrew maintains a 4.0 G.P.A., was President and Treasurer of the Japanese National Honor Society, a Glee Club member and has volunteered his time with preparation for Mochitsuki. He will be pursuing Biomedical Engineering in college.
The Oregon Nisei Veterans started in 1948 with the purpose of raising money to build a monument to honor the Nisei soldiers killed in action during WW II. The Oregon Nisei Veterans manage the Art and Teri Iwasaki/Roger T. Okamoto Scholarship:
Art Iwasaki was a member of the 442nd Combat team during WWII and a founding member of Oregon Nisei Vets. Art is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and this scholarship is given in memory of his loving wife, Teri.
Second Lieutenant Roger Okamoto was killed in Vietnam in 1966 at the age of 23. Lieutenant Okamoto graduated from Benson High School and earned an engineering degree from the University of Washington.
The winner of the Iwasaki/Okamoto Scholarship was Jonas Lamont of Lake Oswego High School. Jonas is a member of the National Honor Society and the Japanese National Honor Society, has lettered in Varsity Football and Baseball and volunteers at Nichiren Buddhist Temple and Carmen Oaks Assisted Living Center. He plans to pursue a degree in Business and Marketing.
The Buddhist Henjyoji Temple was founded by Bishop Daiyu Y. Henjyoji in the mid-1930’s to provide cultural and spiritual support for Japanese living on the West Coast. The Buddhist Henjyoji Temple Art Award was created to provide financial aid to a deserving high school senior currently studying a Japanese art.
This year’s Art Award winner was Joy Yuzuriha from Mountain View High School.
The final component of the banquet was a speech eloquently given by Robert Naemura of Cleveland High School. Robert thanked all of the attendees and noted that this was not only a celebration of the graduates’ achievements, but of the support of everyone in the room. Robert recognized that the accomplishments of the students were a team effort. He thanked his grandparents for teaching him to do his best, to persevere and to be generous to others and thanked the organizations involved for their generous scholarships and support of Nikkei students in the community.