Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Announces Scholarship Recipients


SAN FRANCISCO — The 2015 recipients of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival’s $2,000 Service Scholarship have been announced.

The scholarship program was established in 1988. The festival recognizes the recipients during the opening ceremony (April 11 this year) and again during the Grand Parade (April 19).

gina sakodaRegina M. Sakoda is a graduating senior from Carmel High School in Carmel with a GPA of 4.55. Gina (as she is better known) is the daughter of Naoko and Daniel Sakoda of Carmel. She plans to a major in biomedical/bioengineering at UC Berkeley.

Gina volunteers at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. According to a staff member of the hospital who wrote a letter of recommendation, “Gina is always on the move during her shifts. She is very popular because of her enthusiasm and willingness to help. She understands the value of patience and kind words to alleviate the pain and suffering our patients and families are having. Gina has served over 385 hours of volunteer service. She is a valued volunteer and we will miss her contributions to CHOMP.”

Gina has also volunteered at Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program and spends time on the Big Sur Marathon.

Gina is on the Carmel track and field team, competing in the triple jump, long jump and pole vault, for which she has been third in the league for every year on the team. She has also been on the school soccer team and has been a member and team captain of the Carmel Chamber Singers, an all girls choir. She is also co-captain of the Carmel Mock Trial team, spending on an average of 15 hours a week to work on the cases and preparation for the mock trials. She is involved with the school Environmental Club and the school Amnesty International, where she is presently the president.

Gina has taken Advanced Placement courses in world history, Spanish, U.S. history, language and composition, environmental science, calculus AB, and chemistry, and is presently taking Advanced Placement statistics, calculus B/C, literature and composition, U.S. government and politics, and biology. She has received a score of 5 out of 5 on every Advanced Placement Exam she has taken from her sophomore to junior year.

She enjoys hiking, crocheting and making jewelry. She also enjoys volunteering during the football season, working in the sports medicine room helping football athletes who get injured.

Gina writes, “One of my fondest childhood memories is walking through Osaka during summer festivals with my sister, proudly wearing the happis my grandmother had sewn for us. I’ve come to appreciate everything Japanese — traditions and culture have contributed to my perspective of the world.”

kristen weharaKristen Kyoko Wehara is a graduating senior from Carlmont High School in Belmont with a GPA of 4.27. She is the daughter of Lisa and Darrow Wehara of Belmont. She plans to major in speech pathology and has not decided on what college she will attend. She has been accepted by Fordham, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, University of San Francisco, Seattle Pacific, and Willamette University, among others.

Kristen gives the priority of her volunteer time twice a week to Reading Partners, which has a goal to improve literacy in under-resourced elementary schools. The site coordinator of Reading Partners at Hawes Elementary School in Redwood City writes in her letter of recommendation, “Kristen’s investment of her local community and specifically to Reading Partners is reflected by her continuous volunteer work over the past three years.”

Kristen has also volunteered with San Francisco City Impact by working at the clothing tent for the residents of the Tenderloin; Sturge Presbyterian Church City Impact, helping deliver meals, cleaning dishes and helping in the rescue mission; and First Step for Families in San Mateo, serving meals for the families at the shelter.

Kristen was a member of the varsity badminton team, a life member of the California Scholarship Federation, a member of the Carlmont Youths Against Cancer club, and a volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Ronald McDonald House in Palo Alto.

She has taken Advanced Placement courses in calculus B/C, chemistry, and U.S. history and is presently taking AP courses in U.S. government and politics, microeconomics, biology and psychology. She enjoys playing the guitar, hiking with her dog, and making cards for all occasions.

Kristen writes, “I am motivated to help those in shelters and schools. Serving the community is important to me because I am no different than those I am serving, and I could just as easily be in their place.”



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