JABA, working with the Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) program and the Japanese American National Museum, profiled four of its founding members. NCI is a statewide internship program for undergraduate college students that occurs over eight weeks each summer. The program places the interns with various Japanese American community organizations with the goal of deepening their desire to participate in the community and increasing their understanding of contemporary issues affecting Japanese Americans.
This year was JABA’s first as an NCI sponsor, funding an internship position through NCI’s inaugural Career Track, which seeks to develop an interest in community involvement among students that plan to have a for-profit career. JABA has long recognized the importance of cultivating a commitment to community service among young people, even as they consider future careers in law, so the decision to sponsor an internship position through a program with a proven track record like NCI was a natural fit.
JABA’s NCI intern Lawrence Lan profiled four JABA founders – all who went on to prominent careers in the judiciary. Read the profiles of Justice Kathryn Doi Todd, Judge Ernest Hiroshige, Judge Vincent Okamoto, and the Hon. Jon Mayeda (ret.) by clicking on their names.
One of the Lawrence’s favorite interview anecdotes was with Justice Todd who fondly recalled the time her two year old daughter Mia met Judge Robert Higa. Mia looked at her mother and said “I didn’t know men could be judges!” Mia did not know that her mother was a trailblazer as the first Asian American woman judge in the country. In addition to being a funny comment, Mia’s comment highlights the importance of role models which Justice Todd emphasized in her interview.
“It’s important for someone to have aspirations in order to get somewhere, and unless there’s something real that you can visualize or aspire to, it’s just not part of your thinking. And I really…I didn’t know any judges. It never occurred to me that that was a possibility,” Todd said. “You know, it was sort of amazing, I thought, that I was even a lawyer. So, [being a judge] was not something that I aspired to. And that’s why it’s important for us to be out there so that young people can say, oh my God, you know, people can do this. You can do all of these things.”
Lawrence’s summary of his experience as an NCI Intern with JABA is here.
JABA is also grateful to the Japanese American National Museum and its Discover Nikkei project for supervising and hosting our jointly sponsored intern during most of the NCI program.