FALLS CHURCH, Va. — “Winning a 2012 Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) scholarship will mean much more than winning a cash prize. … it will also stand as a landmark in honor of my grandpa, Laverne Kurahara, who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy and France,” said Royce Kurahara, a resident of Sacramento who plans to attend UCLA this fall.
Kurahara, winner of the Joseph Ichiuji Scholarship, is one of 10 high school graduates representing seven states who were awarded JAVA’s scholarships to enroll in universities in five states and the District of Columbia. Three are from Southern California.
The announcement was made by Dr. Ray Murakami, chairman of the Scholarship Committee, at the JAVA quarterly lunch at the Harvest Moon Restaurant in Falls Church, Va. on June 9. The awardees are descendants of veterans of the 100th Battalion, 442nd RCT and Military Intelligence Service and other members of JAVA.
Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, honorary chair of JAVA, attended the luncheon with his wife Deni. He offered his congratulations to the winners and advised them that as they pursue their education and careers, they must not forget the sacrifice and courage of the men of the 100th, 442nd, and MIS, who proved their loyalty to a nation that distrusted them.
JAVA President Gerald Yamada said he is delighted with the high caliber of applicants and the diligence of the Scholarship Committee in making its selections. While JAVA scholarships are not financially large, he added, the significance they carry is the linkage of the awardees to Nisei who “fought the enemy abroad and prejudice and discrimination at home.”
The 2012 awardees are as follows.
Madeline Matsui, Brooklyn, N.Y., Maj. Orville and Maud Shirey Scholarship. She was accepted at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C. She is the granddaughter of the late Victor and Teru Matsui.
Jennifer Tanji, La Crescenta, Col. Phil Sunao Ishio Scholarship. She was accepted at UC Berkeley, School of Journalism. She wants to fulfill her grandfather’s dream to succeed academically.
Ross Seeman, Portland, Ore., Douglas Ishio Scholarship. He was accepted at Pepperdine University. He has specialized in Japanese history and culture, visited Japan and spent time in Selma, Ala., to study Dr. Martin Luther King’s march for civil rights.
Lisa Greer, Colorado Springs, Colo., Mary Kozono Scholarship. She was accepted at Ottawa University, Kansas. She wants to honor her grandfather who served in the MIS and an uncle who served in the 442nd. She plans to study physical therapy and world ministry.
Royce Kurahara, Sacramento, Joseph Ichiuji Scholarship. He was accepted at UCLA and plans to study aerospace engineering. He wants to honor his grandfather.
Alison Takahashi, Glastonbury, Conn., Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship. She was accepted at Boston College, where he plans to study economics. In her high school history class, she wrote about the men of the 442nd and the MIS.
Kaylee Yoshii, Mission Viejo, Kyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Scholarship. She was accepted at UC Berkeley. She is believed to be JAVA’s first Gosei (fifth generation) JAVA scholarship recipient. Fluent in Spanish, she received a scholarship from the Spanish Embassy for an academic and cultural journey through the Iberian Peninsula and part of South America.
Brittany Kalepa, Honolulu, Dr. Warren Tsuneishi Scholarship. She was accepted at Cornell University, New York, to study engineering. She wants to succeed in her studies to honor her grandfather, a 442nd veteran.
Jenna Hashimoto, Aurora, Ill., Betty Shima Scholarship. She was accepted at Bradley University, Illinois, to study medical technology. Her father is Lt. Col. Robert Hashimoto, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Margaret Ginoza, Manhattan Beach, Etsu Masaoka Scholarship. She was accepted at Vassar College, New York, where she plans to study science and technology. Her grandfather served in the Army Air Corps as a tail gunner on a B-17.
The quarterly lunch also included the showing of a six-minute DVD prepared by the National Veterans Network and shown at the Congressional Gold Medal gala dinner in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2, 2011.
In addition, Ambassador John Malott, president of the Japan America Society of Washington, D.C., paid tribute to the World War II veterans and expressed appreciation for the partnership with JAVA in the annual Sakura Matsuri Festival held in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Parade.
JASW WDC annually provides a tent free of charge to JAVA to display memorabilia and to discuss the Japanese American story with thousands of people not normally reached by JAVA publicity.