JATCSF Presents Scholarships to 20 Students


This year’s 20 JATCSF scholarship recipients pose for a group photo at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello with JATCSF Chairperson and President Kitty Sankey (front row, center).

This year’s 20 JATCSF scholarship recipients pose for a group photo at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello with JATCSF Chairperson and President Kitty Sankey (front row, center).


By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

MONTEBELLO — The Japanese American Treaty Centennial Scholarship Fund presented scholarships to 20 students and also gave special recognition to longtime supporters during a luncheon held July 30 at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello.

The JATCSF was established in 1960 by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California to mark the centennial of the arrival of the first official Japanese delegation to the U.S. in 1860. Established with $100,000, the fund has awarded more than 1,700 scholarships.


Fourth-grader Chihiro Kato led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Fourth-grader Chihiro Kato led the Pledge of Allegiance.


The luncheon began with Chihiro Kato, a fourth-grader at Joaquin Miller Elementary School in Burbank, leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Invocation was given by Howard Miyoshi of Zenshuji Soto Mission.

“You’re going to be meeting 20 amazing young men and women, the best and brightest of their classmates,” said JATCSF Chairperson and President Kitty Sankey. “Not only have they excelled academically but they’ve also been in clubs, participated in sports, and volunteered in numerous organizations.”

She added that this year marks the first time that three past recipients have played a key role in the event: Molly Serizawa (2009), who served as emcee, and Katharina Miyoshi (2013) and Elise Takehama (2015), who introduced this year’s awardees. Serizawa also organized a workshop for the recipients that covered such topics as etiquette and networking.

Miyoshi, who is studying nursing sciences at UC Irvine, said that she and Takehama, who is studying journalism at Boston University, are available if the new recipients have any questions about college.

Noting that various donors have supported the JATCSF as a way of thanking the community, Sankey told the recipients, “We’re asking that you feel a commitment at some time to give back to your community … just as you’ve been doing in your high school years. Continue that in the future.”


Past recipients Elise Takehama and Katharina Miyoshi introduced this year’s recipients.

Past recipients Elise Takehama and Katharina Miyoshi introduced this year’s recipients.


Newly arrived Consul General Akira Chiba, who attended with his wife, Yuko, noted that many of the recipients will attend UC campuses.”I am also a product of the UC system. The best thing that happened to me at Berkeley? I met my wife … so that means you can also have high expectations.”

He added, “There are several programs that the Japanese government supports that will assist the next generations to build bridges between the U.S. and Japan. I hope someday in the near future many of you … will build new bridges by participating in those programs and visit Japan as a delegate from the U.S., immerse yourself in Japanese society and come back to Southern California to become the next leaders of the community and of your country.”

This year’s recipients:

• Alyssa Hirakata Chang, a graduate of Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies in Tarzana. She was founder and president of Peer 2 Peer Math Tutoring Club, a clarinetist with SOCES’ award-winning Wind Ensemble, an AP Scholar with Honors, and team captain and starting singles on the varsity girls’ tennis team. She will attend UC Berkeley, majoring in pre-med and philosophy. She hopes to cure and care for those with cancer.

• Sheldon Satoru Ruhue Chen, a graduate of South Pasadena High School in South Pasadena. He was on the Math Team and Junior Varsity Cross-Country Team and was a four-year member of the school band, receiving an award as outstanding band member. He was a standby translator at Touhoku University Hospital in Sendai and volunteered at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce Oshogatsu Festival. He will attend UC Berkeley with a major in engineering and hopes to pursue a career as a programmer.

Cheng and Chen received scholarships from the Kenji Ito Memorial Fund, presented by Ayleen Ito-Lee.

• Jacquelyn Minako Giese, a graduate of Del Norte High School in San Diego. She was a tutor and supervisor for the Writing Help and Tutoring Center and also worked as a tutor for elementary students at the 4S Ranch Library. She has trained as a dancer since she was 5 and has been part of the Dance Unlimited Performing Arts Academy Competition Team, winning awards and recognition for her solos. She will attend Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, majoring in engineering or computer science, with an eye o