GARDENA — The Greater Los Angeles JACL held “Let’s Dance,” a scholarship and chapter fundraiser mini-dinner/dance, on July 29 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena.
This year’s scholarship recipients:
Caitlyn Chailitilerd of South Pasadena High School will study graphic communication with a concentration in UX/UI Design at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She has been involved with SkillsUSA throughout high school. Caitlyn competed in 3D visualization and animation in the SkillsUSA Regional Conference and earned a silver medal at the State Conference as well. ($500)
Winston Clark of Glendale High School will major in literary studies with a minor in writing at New School. At Glendale High School, he was varsity captain of the lacrosse team and played all four years there. He has been a volunteer and an intern at the Little Tokyo Service Center, where he is involved in an oral history project documenting the stories of first-generation Japanese immigrants. ($500)
Satoru Eto of Downtown Magnet High School in Los Angeles will attend Drexel University. He has played ice hockey competitively since the age of 12. In high school, he participated as an assistant coach for the Little Kings Learn to Play program, teaching ice hockey skills to 5-9-year-old first-timers. Satoru plans on playing for Drexel’s ice hockey team while pursuing his studies. ($500)
Mia Hennequin of Northwood High School in Irvine will study civil engineering at Irvine Valley Community College. She is in the honors program and has held various leadership roles in different clubs at Northwood, including class representative of the Youth Action Team and vice president of the National Organization for Women. She has also been a volunteer for the LPGA and PGA for several years. ($500)
Kristi Ikemoto of Yorba Linda High School will study Neuroscience at UCLA. She has been involved as a cabinet member of the Orange County Buddhist Church Junior Youth Buddhist Association for several years, serving most recently as president. Kristi is also involved with the Southeast Japanese School and Community Center in Norwalk and has volunteered as an assistant teacher at the summer youth camp, Camp Hanabi. ($500)
Taylor Jo-Gibson of South Pasadena High School will study Education at UC Irvine. She has worked for the South Pasadena Education Foundation during the summer, offering a dance class for students ages 4-15. During the pandemic, Taylor created a business called Made by Tay, selling baked goods to honor her late father and giving proceeds monthly to organizations to support their advocacy work. She has participated in every Nisei Week Parade since 2014 with the Awa Odori dance group. ($1,000)
Jade Shimamoto of South Pasadena will study psychology at CSU Long Beach. She is interested in becoming a psychologist that specializes in Asian American culture. Jade has interned at the Center for Japanese Mental Health and hopes to be a bridge between Japanese and American culture. She has also volunteered at the Huntington Hospital and is an AP scholar. ($500)
Shieru Wada of San Pedro Senior High School will study civil engineering at UC Berkeley. She has been on the varsity tennis team since her freshman year and has completed the L.A. Marathon. Shieru has held multiple roles in The San Pedro Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles Harbor. She co-founded Homeless Not Helpless and was co-president when they eventually used their resources to help out in Cebu, Philippines with the support of their local church. ($1,000)
The scholarship was established in 1992 as a memorial to chapter member Hana Uno Shepard, who passed away in 1987. She was active in the campaign to obtain redress and an apology for Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.
Live music and DJ were provided by Asian Persuasion, a five-member Asian American vocal harmony group. They sang favorite songs from doo-wop, Motown, and pop songs of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Kenny Itagaki and Gary Asamura started the group over 40 years ago and are joined today by Helen Ota, Marlene Yamane Chau and Jeff Louie.
Line dancing was led by Toru Nagao, who has been teaching ballroom, freestyle, and line dancing in Southern California for over 30 years.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo