The Venice-West Los Angeles chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League  (JACL) announced its scholarship winners recently.

Jason Kunisaki of Culver City and Max Kaito of Harbor City were awarded the Chiyo M. Hattori Memorial Scholarship, designated to outstanding students pursuing an education in medicine.

The chapter also awarded the Jack Nomura Memorial Scholarship to four top area high school seniors, Kaila Imada, Lucca Necci, Malina Miura and Akari Johnston. The scholarship is named in honor of the late Jack Nomura, who was a long-time board member of the West L.A. Chapter.

Kunisaki is a fifth-year student at the University of Utah School of Medicine pursuing both an MD and PhD degree. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017 with a degree in biology – genomics and computational biology.

Kunisaki, who plans to pursue a career as a physician scientist, is co-president of the Salt Lake City JACL and led chapter efforts in administering more than 1,500 COVID and flu vaccines to Asian American seniors earlier this year.

Kaito is entering his second year at the Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He graduated with honors from UCLA in 2017 after being named 2013 class valedictorian at Gilbert High School in Arizona.

After finishing medical school, Kaito said he would like to focus his practice on mental health issues in the Japanese American community.

Kunisaki and Kaito were both awarded a $2,500 scholarship.

Imada was part of the first graduating class of the Geffen Academy UCLA, a college preparatory school. The daughter of Susan Iida and Jeff Imada graduated with a 3.8 grade point average, was co-founder of the school’s Christian affinity group and participated as a singer and actress in school productions. She has also immersed herself as a parkour athlete, which involves military-style training in extreme sports, and has a surgically repaired ACL to prove it. She is currently attending the University of Washington as a business major.

Necci graduated from Santa Monica High School with a 3.9 grade point average. He was captain and a league champion for his varsity wrestling team and also was a cellist on the school orchestra for three years. And with a brown belt in karate, the son of Grace Akazawa and Michael Necci of Santa Monica has been a paid instructor to youth students of his local martial arts dojo. He is currently attending UC Santa Barbara as a political science major with plans to pursue a career in law.

Miura graduated from Culver City High School with a 3.7 grade point average and was a member of the varsity basketball team for three years. A Girl Scout, she received her Gold Award after creating a pen-pal program through the Culver City Sister City Committee and her school’s Spanish and Japanese language classes. Students practiced their reading and writing skills by sending letters to fellow students in Uruapna, Mexico, and Kaizuka, Japan. The daughter of Allison and Ramsey Miura of Culver City is attending UC Irvine as an undeclared major.

Johnston graduated from Culver City High with a 3.7 grade point average. A member of the Silver Key honor club, she was drawn to the school’s arts program, where she took an interest in animation, digital filmmaking and film/television production. Outside of school, she was a Girl Scout for 12 years and participated in programs that addressed climate change and student activism. The daughter of Sachi and George Johnston of Culver City, Akari is attending the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

For more information, contact the Venice-WLA JACL at or visit the chapter’s Facebook page.

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