SAN FRANCISCO — The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival presented $2,000 scholarships to two local graduating seniors of Japanese descent.
The scholarship program, now in its 24th year, is administered by the Nikkei Lions Club of San Francisco.
This year’s winners, who were recognized during the Cherry Blossom Festival’s opening ceremony on April 9 in Japantown’s Peace Plaza, are:
• Christopher Robert Ray Hyde, a graduating senior from San Jose’s Leigh High School and the son of Catherine M. Hyde of San Jose. He has a GPA of 4.30 and is ranked No. 1 out of 386 graduating seniors. He plans to major in biology with an emphasis in pre-medicine at UC Irvine and is waiting for word on his application to Stanford.
He has been studying taekwondo for several years and holds a third-degree black belt. He has also studied Muay Thai kickboxing. His extensive community service includes his time devoted to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church as a camp counselor, county blood drive, county food drive, Asian American bone marrow and organ donor registries, Career Closet Clothing Drive, middle school tutoring, and the South San Jose Youth Football and Cheerleading League.
An intern for Rep. Michael Honda for the past two years, Hyde is the Leigh High School Associated Student Body secretary and a member of the school’s varsity basketball and badminton teams. He was the junior varsity basketball team’s captain.
Hyde has taken Advanced Placement courses in U.S. government, Calculus AB, English 4, English 5 and biology. He has been awarded Leigh High School’s Summa Cum Laude academic honors, the West Coast Academic Achievement Award, and the U.S. Achievement Academy National Language Arts Award.
He writes in one of his essays, “Civilized society demands that we be active participants. We must give back to the community that supported us. For me, recognizing the benefits I have received from those around me has helped me focus on how I can give back. And in the future, as my community expands or my neighborhood changes, I will continue finding ways to make positive contributions.”
• Andre Mota is a graduating senior from Rocklin High School in Rocklin with a GPA of 4.23 and is ranked No. 1 out of 386 graduating seniors. He is Japanese Venezuelan and is the son of Armando and Marie Mota. He plans to major in biochemistry at UC Davis.
He has been involved with the Rocklin High School Key Club, has been studying taekwondo for several years, presently holding a fourth-degree black belt, and has studied hapkido. His extensive community service include his time devoted to the Down Syndrome Information Alliance, the Pediatric Trauma Prevention organization, the City of Sacramento’s Hands on Sacramento program, which helps local youth, the Placer County Youth Commission (as a commissioner), the Placer County Teen Advisory Board (as chair), the River City Food Bank, and the Family Tutoring Center of the City of Rocklin.
Mota is a member of the Rocklin High School Associated Student Body Executive Council, co-founder and president of HERO, an organization that raises awareness of the AIDS/HIV problem in Africa and the orphans of deceased parents of AIDS/HIV, and co-founder and president of World Food Program, which focuses on the severe shortage of food and water in the world.
He has taken Advanced Placement courses in world history, U.S. history, chemistry, calculus AB, calculus BC, biology, psychology, microeconomics and English literature. He has been a delegate this year to the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Conference, sponsored by the State of California, and has received the Distinguished Community Service Award. He has been chosen as the Class of 2011 Valedictorian for Rocklin High School.
Mota writes in one of his essays, “I see service as a pathway to improve my sense of character, clarifying what make me innately human. It is a riveting comfort knowing that whatever path I may pursue, I will always have service to repose upon. Simply put, it has been my pleasure to serve, to strive side by side as a leader or a modest volunteer.”