From left: Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai President Arturo Yoshimoto, Hideyaki Tanaka, representing great-niece Emily Ohara, Ryan Yasuda, Derek Jackson, Lauren Tsuneishi and Arlene Nakamura, Scholarship Committee chair. (Photo by RICHARD FUKUHARA)

When it comes to Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai Scholarship recipients, 2017 was quite a banner year since all four recipients have shown excellence in academics and extracurricular activities with commendations and awards too numerous to mention. Here is a look into their character and their gambare spirit.

• Derek Jackson, whose mother’s family is from Shimonoseki, will attend Oberlin College majoring in liberal arts with an architecture focus. Derek began exhibiting that gambare spirit at the age of 3 when he began practicing piano. That initial commitment has today turned into 4,380 hours of practice. He has also secured a spot on the Oberlin Varsity soccer team.

Derek was one of five students who accepted his Japanese language teacher’s challenge to keep a journal in Japanese. He not only kept a journal for that semester, but continued writing in that journal for two years, which greatly improved his Japanese writing skills.

• Emily Ohara, whose ancestors are from Yanai, will attend Azusa Pacific University, majoring in public relations and minoring in journalism. Being home-schooled, she was able to take the initiative in her own education and was determined to complete all requirements to receive the Congressional Award Bronze Medal. Those requirements include volunteer public service, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. The most difficult requirement was to identify, plan and execute an expedition.

Her counselor shared that “Emily’s main goal for this task was to learn to be responsible for herself as she was immersed in a new and unfamiliar environment.” Emily was also a team member for short-term missions for rebuilding projects in New Orleans and Staten Island.

• Lauren Tsuneishi, whose ancestors are from Ono, will attend Westmont College majoring in kinesiology and minoring in business administration. Her challenge came in her struggle to get a place on her high school basketball team. Playing the same position as many others on her team, she had to compete for playing time, which was often discouraging. After one particularly tough practice, she wanted to quit. But instead, she decided to push back by finding a trainer who worked with her early Saturday mornings, rain or shine, helping her to hone her skills and to work on new moves.

That perseverance paid off. Lauren went from “not being put in the line-up” to never coming out of the game. Her decision not to give up has led her to receiving a scholarship to play NAIA Division 1 ball at Westmont.

• Ryan Yasuda, whose father’s ancestors are from Kaminoseki, will attend the University of Washington, majoring in sciences/biology. His determination is evident in many facets of his life. In Boy Scouts, not only did he attain the highest rank of Eagle Scout, but he was also selected to be the senior patrol leader to over 80 Boy Scouts for one week. Ryan rose to the challenge, participating in a week of training in all areas of Boy Scouts leadership prior to successfully leading the troop the following week.

In his honors U.S. history class, his teacher also reflected on Ryan’s leadership skills and concern for others when he volunteered to tutor a struggling student in his class by planning study sessions, quizzing her as he helped her understand assignments, and choosing to pair with her on a joint research project.

NYK congratulates all of the scholarship recipients and wishes them enriching college experiences and a very successful future.

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