Monday, May 25, 2009

Spotlight #9 - Jess Kawamura

Name: Jessica Miyeko Kawamura
Profession: Former grad student, future policy analyst
Age: 23
Favorite Restaurant: Thai Noodle in Berkeley

During the last six months, I have enjoyed being part of Nakayoshi. It’s a great way to connect with other people who are equally committed to being part of the JA community and enjoying the Bay Area. I am excited to see where the future takes us!
About me: I am a proud East Bay native. I am yonsei, a fourth-generation Japanese American. As a kid, I spent many afternoons and summer days with my grandparents in West Berkeley. I have fond memories of making narazuke and eating Campbell’s soup with rice and takuan. On Sundays, my family attended JA Christian church and on Saturday nights, my brother and I played basketball for the local Buddhist temple. During the summers, I went to Daruma-no-Gakko, where I first fell in love with Japanese American history. I feel lucky to have grown up in the ethnic community.

As a student at Brown University, I pursued my interest in Asian American history. I double majored in Ethnic Studies and Public Policy and served as the chair of the Asian American Students Association. I spent a summer interning in San Francisco Japantown with the Nikkei Community Internship program. I also studied abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo. I wrote my honors thesis about Asian American women’s activism in San Francisco during the late 1960s and early 1970s. I came back to Berkeley to complete my education at the Goldman School of Public Policy at Cal (Go Bears!). A newly minted graduate, I will soon pack my bags for a big move to Washington, DC. I will be pursuing a career in public service at the State Department's Office of Civil Rights.