Go For Broke National Education Center announced the winners of its 2015 High School and College Student Essay and Video Contest at its annual Evening of Aloha gala last Saturday.
Entrants represented 55 high schools and 20 colleges and universities. A total of $6,500 in prize money was awarded.
GFBNEC also announced that Pacific Global Investment Management Company is once again the presenting sponsor of the contest. Their generous contribution is made in memory of long-time community philanthropists and business leaders Manabi Hirasaki (522nd Field Artillery Battalion, C Battery) and Sig Kagawa.
The contest has also been made possible by two supporting sponsors: Ken and June Shimabukuro, and an anonymous donor in memory of Mas Takahashi (100th Infantry Battalion, C Company).
“The purpose of our essay and video contest is to encourage high school and college students to learn about the Nisei soldier story – which is truly an American story of patriotism, heroism, humility, and courage,” said GFBNEC President Don Nose. “In so doing, we hope they will have a greater appreciation of their civil rights, realize the sacrifices that were made for those rights, and be positive forces helping to safeguard these rights which are the cornerstone of our great nation …
“The 30 winning entries … share compelling aspects of the Nisei veteran story in very personal and profound ways. Congratulations to the many students who won and who shared their stories. Their essays and videos speak passionately about their admiration for the Nisei soldiers who made great sacrifices so those who followed would have a better life.
“Our contest is growing larger and larger by the year. This is the third annual contest – and the first time that we’ve accepted videos in addition to essays. We had a record 247 entrants this year, from 16 states and the District of Columbia. We truly are making an impact nationally.”
“Even more impressive than the essays and videos are the students themselves,” said Chris Brusatte of GFBNEC. “As the main contact person with the student entrants, I have found myself speaking to 250 passionate, intelligent, and caring young adults. They all have a deep appreciation for the past and big dreams for the future. Our country – and our world – is in good hands as we pass the torch to this new generation …
“I have to thank the veterans themselves. All of you are the inspiration. You are the inspiration to these students, you are the inspiration to our staff, you are my personal inspiration, and you continue to be an inspiration to Americans everywhere. Thank you so much for your service. As one student so eloquently stated, all generations must ‘remember the sacrifices and contributions that you made so that all Americans may live as equals in peace and freedom today.’”
Serving as judges were educators Nancy Sagawa, Mary Jane Fujimura, Ikuko Kiriyama, Naomi Jue and Barbara Lai, and community volunteer Audrey Ishimoto.
The winners are as follows:
First Prize, Essay, College/University
Michelle Grochocinski, University of Chicago
First Prize, Essay, High School
Lauren Irie, West Torrance High School, Torrance
First Prize, Video, College/University
Mark Frederick, Penn State University at Altoona
First Prize, Video, High School
Sydney Dempsey, Maui High School, Kahului, Hawaii
Second Prize, Essay, College/University
Kevin Koyama, Northeastern University, Boston
Second Prize, Essay, High School
Nicole Nishizawa, Punahou School, Honolulu
Second Prize, Video, College/University
Christian Saiki, Humboldt State University, Arcata, Calif.
Second Prize, Video, High School
Kyla Kikkawa Flintridge Preparatory School, La Cañada Flintridge
Third Prize Winners, Essay
Kainalu Saiki Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, Honolulu
Taylor Riedley, Simi Valley High School, Simi Valley
Ashley Ishigo, University of Southern California
Jordan Lee, Mid-Pacific Institute, Honolulu
Dante Hirata-Epstein, Iolani School, Honolulu
Yu Rankin, University of Southern California
Remaining Top 30 Finalists
Allysha Yasuda, University of Idaho, Moscow
Alyna Kim, West Torrance High School
Brandon Irie, West Torrance High School
Brandon Ishikata, San Diego State University
Caitlin Chen, Irvington High School, Fremont, Calif.
Cassidy Minae Jung, Flintridge Preparatory School, La Cañada Flintridge
Clare Yejin Lee, Oxford Academy, Cypress
Cody Yamada, University of Nevada at Reno
Daisy Matias, Alhambra High School, Alhambra
Julia Davidson, Palos Verdes High School, Palos Verdes Estates
Kaitlyn Allen-O’Gara, Oxford Academy, Cypress
Kristen Hayashi, University of California at Riverside
Samantha Zee, Waiakea High School, Hilo, Hawaii
Sasha Cox, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, Honolulu
Teddy Powers, Canyon High School, Anaheim
Tony Chiang, Oxford Academy, Cypress
The winning essays will be published in The Rafu Shimpo.