JA Veterans Association Offers Scholarships to High School Grads

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WASHINGTON — “Although the economy is still slowly recovering, things are apt to be much better in four years. So this is time for this year’s high school grads to prepare for that brighter future.”

That was the message that Dr. Ray Murakami, chair of the JAVA (Japanese American Veterans Association) Memorial Scholarship Program, provided as he announced the start of this year’s competition for eight $1,500 awards.

Noting the high cost of a college education, Murakami observed that even though the JAVA awards could obviously meet only a small part of costs entailed, they serve as a measure of excellence and offer deserved recognition. He urged all eligible 2012 high school graduates to apply.

Christine Larson, a 2010 JAVA scholarship winner.

As in the past, the scholarships represent memorials to loved ones that their families have chosen to remember in this special way. In 2012, the scholarships will honor Orville Shirey, who was the intelligence officer and historian with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and, separately, Col. Phil Sunao Ishio, U.S. Army Reserve, and Douglas Ishio, his son. The senior Ishio, a Military Intelligence Service veteran, was the founding president of JAVA.

A prominent benefactor of JAVA, Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin, will again be remembered.  Similarly honored are Grant Hirabayashi and Joseph Ichiuji, and, for the first time this year, Mike and Etsu Masaoka, jointly, as well as Dr. Warren Tsuneishi.

Basically, the same program rules that applied last year will govern the 2012 competition.  To be eligible, the entrant must be a graduating high school student, and must be related lineally to a person who served in the 100th Battalion, 442nd RCT, MIS, or a Japanese American who has or is serving in the U.S. armed services. Those similarly related to a member of JAVA are also eligible to apply.

Owing to the eligibility rules, in the past, most applicants have been grandchildren of qualified Japanese American veterans. Overall, as the rules limit the pool of applicants, it increases the chances for receiving one of the scholarships.

One of those grandchildren was Christine Larson, who is now a student at UC Davis. The 2010 scholarship winner observed, “While writing my application essay, I found a new respect for my grandfather and how he has made such a large impact on shaping the young woman I am today. This scholarship was not simply another way to earn money for college but for me to appreciate how influential my grandfather is.”

Larson’s grandfather is James Suzuki, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Monterey Peninsula Nisei Memorial Post 1629.

The competition is now open and eligible applicants are urged to submit their entries as soon as they are able to meet the criteria. One of those is that the application must be accompanied by documentation showing that the entrant has been admitted to an accredited college, university, or some other institution that provides post-high school education or training in 2012.

Since the program has attracted students from a diversity of schools and locations, including one who had been home-schooled, Murakami pointed out that comparing the records of the applicants has not been easy. For that reason, and in order to enable the Awards Committee to differentiate between very competitive applications, each entrant is asked to submit an essay of 500 words or less on the subject: “What winning a JAVA scholarship award will mean to me.”

The panel that will be reviewing the entries are: Sue Okubo, a Ph.D. economist, formerly with the Department of Commerce; Edgar J. Wakayama, Ph.D., an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services; and Calvin Ninomiya, Esq., formerly a chief counsel in the Department of the Treasury.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications is May 1. This date permits students who are awaiting admission information from institutions that provide notification as late as April l5 to include such documentation with their entries. If an applicant has been admitted to more than one institution and is uncertain about his or her final choice, he or she should provide the admission information already received, and agree to furnish information about the school selected as soon as a decision has been made.

Complete details about the program and the terms and conditions of the contest can be found in materials that will be appearing on the JAVA website, www.javadc.org, where the official application form can be downloaded.

Individual inquiries may be sent to Dr. Raymond Murakami, JAVA Scholarship Program Chair, 6921 Pyle Rd., Bethesda, MD 20817, or [email protected]

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