Community Scholarship Recipients
By Heidi Kimiko Tolentino
The members of the Class of 2021 have accomplished remarkable feats despite the pandemic and we are humbled by their determination and resilience. It has been a long year of missed events for them, but they have continued to push through academically, athletically and extracurricularly. Though we were not able to honor them at our yearly Graduation Banquet, we were able to award them with community scholarships. These are the Scholarship Recipients of the Outstanding Class of 2021.
Oregon Nisei Veterans: Iwasaki/Okamoto Scholarship
The Oregon Nisei Veterans began 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 awards the Iwasaki/Okamoto Scholarship each year.
Art Iwasaki was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat team during WWII and a founding member of Oregon Nisei Vets. Art was 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 Jubei Uzunoe of Grant High School. Jubei was on the Wrestling and Baseball teams and competed in Obukan Judo. He was also a kitchen lead and volunteer at Konko Church. In the fall, he will be attending Iowa State University and will be part of their ROTC program. Congratulations Jubei!
Japanese Ancestral Society: Tsuya and Kumaichi Minamoto/Mary Yamaguchi Fund Scholarship, Hide Naito Scholarship, Mary K. Naito Scholarship
The Japanese Ancestral Society (JAS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Nikkei community and promoting education and fellowship among the members of the community. JAS awards three scholarships each year.
Tsuya and Kumaichi Minamoto emigrated from Japan in the early 1900’s and endured being incarcerated during WWII. Their daughter, Mary, created this scholarship in their honor. This year, the Minamoto scholarship was combined with a scholarship from the Mary Yamaguchi Fund from the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. The Mary Yamaguchi Fund was founded in memory of Mary Yamaguchi, a long-time member of the Nikkei community in Portland. Mary supported scholarships in memory of her parents, Shizuo and Ujitsuto Yamaguchi. She was also a member of multiple Nikkei organizations and a volunteer of Ikoi no Kai. The winner of the Minamoto/Mary Yamaguchi Fund Scholarship was Anna Yotsuuye of Central Catholic High School. Anna was on the Swim Team, part of Girls Who Code and was an Academic Achievement Award winner. Anna will be attending Fresno Pacific University next year. Congratulations, Anna!
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 Matthew Aizawa of La Salle High School. Matthew has a black belt in Shorinji Kempo, played Soccer and Tennis and earned multiple Scholar Athlete awards. Matthew will be attending Pepperdine University next year. Congratulations, Matthew!
The Mary K. Naito Scholarship 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 Alexander Tanne of Mountain View High School. Alexander will graduate from the Portland Japanese School this year where he has attended every Saturday for twelve years. Alexander was on the Swim, Baseball and Tennis teams and was a Scholar Athlete. Alexander will be attending either the University of Washington’s Engineering School or Columbia University next year. Congratulations, Alexander!
Portland Shokookai: Shokookai of Portland Scholarship
Portland Shokookai was founded in 1966 by a small group of Japanese companies. They facilitate business operations for Japanese companies in Oregon and SW Washington and run the Japanese Language School. This year’s Shokookai of Portland Scholarship winner was Kai Kiyokawa of Grant High School. Kai was a member of the Japanese Magnet Program (JMP), a volunteer at Nichiren Buddist Temple, and played both Football and Baseball. Kai will be attending Clark College next year. Congratulations, Kai!
The Veleda Club and Portland Nikkei Fujinkai: Veleda Club/Nikkei Fujinkai Scholarship
The Veleda Club is Portland’s oldest Nikkei women’s service organization that is active in the community today. Portland Nikkei Fujinkai is a Japanese Ancestral Women’s Association that was established in 1935. They support community activities and cultural education. This year’s winner of the Veleda Club/ Nikkei Fujinkai scholarship was Shinji Tanaka of Southridge High School. Shinji was a member of his school’s marching band which played for Ikoi no Kai. He also ran both Cross Country and Track and was a Japanese Language tutor. Shinji will attend Oregon State University next year. Congratulations, Shinji!
Gresham-Troutdale JACL: Gresham- Troutdale JACL Scholarship
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. This year the Gresham- Troutdale JACL scholarship was combined with a scholarship from the Mary Yamaguchi Fund from the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. The winner of the Gresham-Troutdale JACL/Mary Yamaguchi Fund Scholarship was Carson Nitta of Lincoln High School. Carson was a member of the Cross Country and Track teams, as well as the Jazz Ensemble. He also volunteered with Epworth United Methodist Church and Ikoi no Kai. Carson will be attending Oregon State University next year. Congratulations, Carson!
Portland JACL: Kiyoko Yumibe Scholarship, Matt Masuoka Scholarship, Yoshiko Kennedy Scholarship, Mabel Shoji Boggs Scholarship
Portland JACL was established in 1928 with an ongoing mission to fight social injustice and to preserve the cultural heritage and values of Japanese Americans. Portland JACL awarded four scholarships this year.
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 the Yumibe Scholarship was Alisa Carter of Westview High School. Alisa will graduate from the Portland Japanese School this year where she has attended every Saturday for thirteen years. Alisa has also played with both the school bands and marching band, she volunteered with the Japanese International Baptist Church and was a member of the National Honor Society. Alisa will be attending the University of British Columbia next year. Congratulations, Alisa!
Matthew 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 daughter, Dr. Connie Masuoka. The winner of the Matt Masuoka Scholarship was Owen Strid of Century High School. Owen will graduate from the Portland Japanese School this year where he has attended every Saturday for thirteen years. He has also been a member of the Key Club, played Soccer and ran Track and was a member of the National Honor Society. Owen will be attending Oregon State University next year. Congratulations, Owen!
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. The winner of the Yoshiko Kennedy Scholarship was Kandai Shimada of Camas High School. Kandai was on the Track and Field team, the Mock Trial Team and he volunteered at the Japanese Gardens and at Mochitsuki. Kandai will attend the University of Washington next year. Congratulations, Kandai!
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. The winner of the Mabel Shoji Boggs Scholarship was Sayuri Payne of Mountainside High School. Sayuri wrote about founding the Japan-Oregon Cultural Exchange in the January 2021 edition of the Portland JACL newsletter. She also played in her school’s Jazz and Marching Bands and volunteered with the Minidoka Swing band. Sayuri will be attending the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College next year. Congratulations Sayuri!
Class of 2021 Japanese Community Scholarship Recipients, you make our community proud! Your accomplishments are truly impressive and we know that you will continue to excel in your future endeavors. Congratulations and thank you for your contributions to the Nikkei community!