WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has named Hillary Nakano as its new AARP Norman Y. Mineta Fellow. She will assist with the JACL’s public policy initiatives and leadership programming from the Washington, D.C. office.
The fellowship is named for Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. secretary of Transportation, and is funded by the American Association of Retired People.
Nakano graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a double major in Asian American studies and feminist studies. Upon graduation she was awarded the Asian American Studies Department’s most prestigious honor, the Sucheng Chan Distinguished Achievement Award, bestowed on a graduating senior exhibiting excellent academic achievement, community service experience, and outstanding character.
She also graduated with honors within the Feminist Studies Department for completing a senior honors thesis on the narrative discourse analysis of girls who played on otherwise all-boys sports teams during adolescence.
During her undergraduate career at UCSB, Nakano was co-editor-in-chief of the Law & Society Journal, co-president of the Nikkei Student Union, research assistant for Asian American Studies Department Chair Diane Fujino, and an intern at the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
She also participated in API leadership conferences and immersion programs such as the JACL Collegiate Leadership Conference in 2010, the Asian Pacific Leadership Conference in 2009, and the Nikkei Youth Cultural Heritage Program in 2008 and 2009.
Before she received the Mineta Fellowship, Nakano worked as an intern in the leadership office of Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Democratic Caucus vice president, through the JACL’s John Moy and Southwest Airlines Congressional Internship. During that experience she researched and analyzed 59 House Democratic members in 23 states, assisted in preparing information to support member constituency outreach efforts, and attended all caucus, whip, and API meetings.
Nakano is from Oakland and is the youngest daughter of Gerry Nakano and Dianne Fukami. She hopes to attend law school in the fall of 2012 to pursue her passion for social justice.