This year, the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center awarded a total of $7,000 to four deserving scholars.
• Allison Keiko Yamada is the daughter of David and Leslie Yamada, who have been members for 15 years. Allie is a senior attending the University of San Francisco. Her experience as coach along with her friend, Dayna Tanaka, of the SFV Samurai is the primary reason as to why she is pursuing a career as a pediatric occupational therapist. Her goal is for all children to have the opportunity to enjoy playing regardless of their abilities. She can be proud that her boys are playing still and achieving success.
The Dr. Sanbo Sakaguchi Scholarship is intended for high school and college students who exhibit academic excellence, service, and leadership.
• Skye Yukiko Kita is the daughter of Gregg and Katie Kita, who have been members for 11 years. She is the first person to receive this award and will be attending Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where she will explore contemporary dance. Her academic GPA is 3.94. She has received many dancing awards, including the WCE Top 3 Regional Dancer and USA Top 6 Regional dancer.
Skye wrote, “I feel that an arts program at the community center would be beneficial for the new generation of artists as it would encourage them to explore their creativity and possibly spark a new interest.”
The Kay Kazuko Furuta Sakaguchi Scholarship is earmarked for students who are interested in pursuing a future in the visual and/or performing arts.
Lilly Sakaguchi Thibodeaux was a bright and engaging person who loved culture, nature and life, she brought a smile, optimistic attitude, attention and support and an element of fun into all the lives she touched. The two recipients of the scholarship named in her honor are much like her in personality.
• Bing “Tre” Lau is the son of Bing and Diane Lau, who have been members for ten years. He will be going to UC San Diego, focusing on a psychology major this fall. Although he has a busy schedule donating much of his free time to the community center, he is disciplined and has managed his time wisely to maintain a high grade point average, His strongest traits are that he is always ready to give back, make his world better, and respectful.
Danny Okazaki wrote, “His smile and ability to engage with people is so important when serving the many of the members of the community.”
• Kellie Ogimachi is the daughter of Gary and Linda Ogimachi, who have been members for nine years. She will be attending CSU San Luis Obispo as a pre-vet/animal science major. She was the treasurer of her school’s History Club, which raised $500 for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit group for veterans. She was the captain of varsity cross country team as well as MVP. She played second base on the varsity softball team for three years. She has helped with the annual Terminal Islander New Year’s party and summer picnic.
The Scholarship Committee was composed of Grace Iwamasa, Chisato Kanagi, Nancy Oda, and Leslie Shirasawa. The scholarships are endowed in perpetuity.