2017 UWNAA Scholarship Dinner


We celebrated and honored our 2017 UWNAA Scholarship Winners on October 14 with our annual UWNAA Scholarship Dinner at the Nisei Veteran’s Committee Memorial Hall. The UWNAA Board of Trustees proudly presented the 2017-18 scholarship awards to the following five students. The first award, the William K. Nakamura Medal of Honor Scholarship is for $3000. The second, the Kenichi (Ken) Sato Scholarship is for $2700. The remaining UWNAA Scholarships are for $2500. Since the beginning of our scholarship program in 1965, our organization has given 254 awards, including the ones mentioned here, for a total of $386,800.

The 2017-18 William K. Nakamura Medal of Honor Scholarship Recipient is Emi Nakashima, daughter of Craig and Dana Nakashima. Emi is a graduate of Meadowdale High School with a 3.95 GPA. Emi intends to major in biochemistry and plans to pursue a career as a research scientist. An active volunteer throughout high school, Emi, held leadership positions in Key Club, and the Asian Student Union, while also being an active member of the Environmental Club, Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere Club, and Math Club. In addition, she was quite involved in music, playing percussion in the school’s Band, Drumlin, Jazz Band, and

Orchestra Pit. She earned Campfire’s highest achievement, WoHeLo, and was an active member of the Seattle Buddhist Temple where she chaired the Anime Event at the temple’s annual dance festival. This activity introduced a new element of modern Japanese culture to the temple community.

The new Kenichi Sato Scholarship went to Aaron Ramos, son of Adonis Ramos and Andrea Mano. Aaron is a 2017 graduate of Edmonds Woodway High School with a 3.96 GPA. Aaron intends to enter the engineering field with his special interest in mechanical and computer engineering. Aaron has played on his high school baseball team for four years, participated in many musical activities, including both solo and ensemble musical competitions, his school’s Philharmonic (chamber) orchestra, and Camerata, a smaller, chamber ensemble of string players. With Seattle Buddhist Temple, Aaron has given a sermon and participated in a Boy Scout troop. He served as Venture Crew President, and has helped at numbers church events and the Orion Center for homeless youth. Well educated in Japanese Internment history, Aaron has made presentations on the subject at his IB English and History classes.



Kaito Durkee received the 2017 UWNAA Scholarship. Kaito, son of James and Kyoko Durkee, is a 2017 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, with a 4.0 GPA. A Running Start student at Yakima Valley Community College, Kaito also earned a 4.0 GPA in college. He intends to enter the field of Aeronautics and Astronautics. For four years, Kaito was a percussion player of his High School Band and Jazz Band, participated with the Yakima YouthSymphony Orchestra, and served as guitar soloist for the Columbians Drum and Bugle Corps for two years. He earned a letter in varsity golf and a 3rd degree black belt in Shudokan Karate. A tutor for students struggling in math, chemistry and physics, he also volunteered for the Yakima YMCA Swim Team and helped at the Wapato Buddhist Church fundraisers.

Jenna Louie received a 2017 UWNAA scholarship. Jenna, daughter of Stan louie and Julie Okada, is a 2015 graduate of Lindbergh High School in Renton, with a 3.961 GPA. At the UW, Jenna has maintained a 3.86 GPA and is majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is a member of the UW Concrete Canoe Team and is the finance lead and participates in the National Competition. She is secretary for the American Society of Civil Engineers, the UW Chapter. Active

 in Camp Kesem-UW, Jenna has individually raised over $600 and helped put on a fundraiser that garnered more than $25K to provide a week’s camp for children who are affected by a parent’s cancer. For two years, she has also been selected to be a counselor for the camp. As a participant in the 2014 JET Memorial Invitation Program, Jenna witnessed the devastation left by the tsunami three years earlier. This experience helped focus her interest in engineering.

Cameron Wood received a 2017 UWNAA Scholarship. Cameron, daughter of Douglas and Roselle Wood, is a 2017 graduate of Wenatchee High School, with a 4.0 GPA. Cameron intends to study Communications. Cameron has participated in her high school’s cross country and track/field teams; played in the High School Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra; volunteered with the Key Club and Student United Way Youth Leadership Council where she was secretary and chaired the Community Service Committee. An aspiring journalist, Cameron has worked on the school newspaper, submitting articles and serving as sports editor and managing features editor. She has also published articles in the Wenatchee World and worked since her sophomore year.


We were honored to have Japanese Consul General, Yoichi Yamada, speak at our event. Thank you Consul General Yamada for making time for our organization and the next generation of Nikkei community leaders.


Thank you to James Shigihara for the great photos of the event!

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2017 SYNKOA Golf Tournament: July 26, 2017

Join us for our annual SYNKOA Golf Tournament, benefiting the UWNAA Scholarship Fund!

This year we’ve made a slight change to our tournament.   No, it’ll still be the same fun filled day with friends at the Bellevue Golf Course and an Awards Dinner following at the Mandarin, but we’ve added hole sponsorships. This may not mean a lot to us but it can make a huge difference to a UW student receiving one of our UWNAA scholarships.  Here’s how it’ll work.  Simply sponsor a hole for $150 and your name will appear on a sign at the hole and your donation will go to scholarships.  Something you may want to consider is to sponsor a hole in memory of a loved one or special friend who has passed away. Honor that person and both names will be printed on the sign which will read “This hole sponsored by _______in memory of ________. “

The proceeds from hole sponsorships will be used to benefit the University of Washington Nikkei Alumni Association (UWNAA) scholarship program, to assist Japanese American students gain an education at the University of Washington.  Although hole sponsorship is a new feature this year, the SYNKOA GOLF TOURNAMENT has always been raising funds through optional donations.  As the name implies, donations are optional and are not required to participate in the tournament.  Donations are not imbedded in the registration fee or in the cost of the dinner at the Awards Banquet. Through optional donations, last year’s tournament raised $4361 making it possible to pay for one scholarship and more.  Hole sponsorship is being offered as an additional choice to financially support the scholarship fund, but either way, through hole sponsorship or the optional method, your generosity is greatly appreciated to continue the SYNKOA legacies.

And what are SYNKOA legacies?  First is education. In the 1920s local Issei community members, aware of the value of higher education for the future of their children, purchased a house near the U of W campus as a place for Japanese American students to live while attending the UW.  The Japanese American student’s organization and the students living at the House before WWII were known as the University Students Club. A name change was made after WWII when in 1946, the student organization and the House were renamed SYNKOA, a name coined from the last names of University Students Club students who fought and died in WWII.  SYNKOA resembled a Japanese American fraternity.  In 1962 the SYNKOA organization disbanded, the SYNKOA House was sold and a scholarship fund was created with the proceeds. The scholarship fund was managed by a corporate non-profit organization comprised of former SYNKOA students which over time evolved into the present day University of Washington Nikkei Alumni Association (UWNAA).  Golf is the second SYNKOA legacy.  Former SYNKOA students with a reputation for fun, organized and held their first SYNKOA Golf tournament in 1981.  Education and golf, two legacies that pair well.

We are deeply grateful for your generosity and loyal support making it possible to ensure that the SYNKOA legacies live on.  We wish you the best at the SYNKOA GOLF TOURNAMENT.

Tournament Committee:  Beth Kawahara, Jean Deguchi, Don Maekawa, Ron Nobuyama, Cho Shimizu

To sign up for the tournament, download the sign up form:  Synkoa Golf Invitation 2017

To sponsor a hole, please download the form: Synkoa Sponsor a Golf Hole Form

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2017 Memorial Day Service

Under unusual blue skies, the Nisei Veterans Committee and NVC Foundation held its 72nd annual Memorial Day service at Lake View Cemetery. The UWNAA along with other community organizations participated by laying floral wreaths at the base of a stone monument inscribed with the names of Nikkei soldiers killed in action while serving in the US Armed Forces.
Harold Taniguchi represented the UWNAA in the presentation of this beautiful purple and gold floral wreath. 
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Lil Hayashi, President Irene Mano, and Don Maekawa at the Memorial Day Service

Every Memorial Day, the local Nikkei community gathers at a  21 foot tall granite monument at the Lake View Cemetery to honor and pay tribute to the Nikkei war dead of Washington state. The names inscribed on the monument are the fallen Nikkei soldiers from the Spanish American War, WWII, Korean, Vietnam and Grenada wars. A formal program with speakers from the NVC/NVC Foundation, Nikkei community and other dignitaries was followed by the placing of floral wreaths from Nikkei community organizations at the base of the monument. The event was closed by the playing of Taps.

During the ceremony, a colorful wreath with purple and gold flowers and a ribbon that read  “UW Nikkei Alumni Assn/Synkoa”  was placed at the monument by Irene Mano and Don Maekawa representing the UWNAA. This is the 68th annual Memorial Day Service sponsored and organized by the Seattle NVC and NVC Foundation.

By Don Maekawa

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2012-13 Scholarship Winners

On October 20, 2012, we celebrated our five scholarship winners for 2012-13: Marjorie Chappel, Akemi Ikeda, Midori Ng, Jonathan Vance, and Jay Wolfer.

In addition to celebrating our scholarship winners, we also honored President Ken Sato, who has served as President of the University of Washington Nikkei Alumni Association for over 40 years.

Mark Mitsui was given the 2012 award for Distinguished Alumni and gave an inspirational and very informative key note talk.

Congratulations to all our honorees!

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Congratulations to our 2011-12 UWNAA Scholarship Winners!

Now accepting applications for our 2013 scholarships!

Here are some photos from the scholarship reception:

2011-2012 Scholarship Recipients

President, Ken Sato

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SAVE THE DATE: UW Nikkei Alumni Association Reunion, August 24, 2013

We are proud to announce that on August 24, 2013, 5-10PM, we will be celebrating our organization’s 91st year with a reunion party at the newly renovated HUB.

Please contact Lilian Hayashi at for tickets and more information.

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