About the Scholars

The 2017 University of Hawai’i TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars

Adam Buote
Accounting, Class of 2018
Adam is a student studying accounting at the Shidler School of Business. He enjoys working out and sleeping in his free time. Adam has never been to Japan before and hopes that this trip provides deeper insight into the culture and people.

Eileen Chen
Chemistry, Class of 2019
Eileen plans on becoming a local physician after attending JABSOM through the Doctors of Medicine Early Acceptance Program. She currently works as a laboratory assistant in Dr. Michael Garcia’s geology lab and researcher in Dr. Ho Ng’s x-ray crystallography lab. Her weekends are dedicated to volunteering at the Blood Bank of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Humane Society and playing with the neighbor’s cat. Eileen is beyond excited to travel to Japan and forge new friendships overseas. She is looking forward to learning more about and honoring Sen. Daniel Inouye’s legacy.

Wendy Chen
Computer Science, Class of 2019
Born and raised on the north shore of Hawai’i, Wendy spends most of her time helping the family flower farming business. Wendy is a Computer Science major, who hopes to learn as much as possible about the subject. In her free time, she likes to play video games and bake. She usually spends her Saturdays at the UH Manoa tea house as a member of the UH Manoa Chado Tea Ceremony club. She is looking forward to learning more about Japanese culture and history on her first trip to Japan.

Kathleen Corpuz
Political Science and American Studies, Class of 2017
Kathleen works for the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa as a research assistant. Her research project deals with substance abuse prevention and the prevention of the use of electronic smoking devices. She also serves as the President of the Manoa Pre-Law Association and the Social Events Chairperson of the Atherton YMCA Student Board. She helps engage college students in community service events, from reviving indigenous plants to restoring the health of the Manoa valley. From this trip, she hopes to learn leadership skills that will help her become an effective advocate for Kalihi.

Brent Hidetaka Duarte
Communicology and Asian Philosophy, Class of 2017
Brent works part-time as a caterer for Catering Connection and as a medical courier for Ace Medical Services. He has visited Japan twice with his family. He is a local boy, born and raised in Hawaii, and attended the first Shinto Buddhist high school in north America, Pacific Buddhist Academy. In his free time he enjoys hiking and spending time with his family. On this trip, he looks forward to gaining first-hand experience in intercultural communication. A crucial part of Communicology is understanding different intercultural customs. Observing and experiencing interpersonal communication in Japan will be a unique opportunity to build bridges between Japan and Hawaii.

Lihau Fujihara
Family Resources and American Studies, Class of 2018
Lihau is a fifth-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in Kahului, Maui. Originally, his family name was “Fujiwara”. However, the name was changed to “Fujihara” for unknown reasons. He is currently employed as an informal recreation manager at the Warrior Recreation Center (fitness center at UH Manoa), and he also schedules the fitness classes that are held there. He looks forward to participating in the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars program because he is interested in learning more about Japan and its unique and admirable culture. Also, having both Japanese and Hawaiian blood, he feels this scholarship will be a great opportunity to learn a little more about his Japanese heritage.

LeAnn Hamilton
Physics, Class of 2020
LeAnn is a sophomore from Virginia studying Physics at University of Hawaii at Manoa. She intends on graduating in Spring 2020. Her goal is to be a research scientist. She loves to travel, and is very excited to visit Japan for the first time. She enjoys learning about other cultures, and can’t wait to see what she will learn during this trip.

Waverly Heurtelou
Human Resource Management and Travel Industry Management, Class of 2018
Waverly is originally from the Bay Area in California and moved to Hawaii to step out of her comfort zone and to try something new. Surely enough she fell in love with the island and people. She is currently a part of the Society for Human Resource Management as their Executive Vice President and Meeting Professionals International. In her free time she likes to try new foods, travel, and watch sporting events. She is looking forward to going to Japan for the first time and learning more about their culture.

Jill Ikeda
Biology, Class of 2017
Jill was born and raised on the Big Island. As a Chancellor’s Scholar recipient, she strives to get a good education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Månoa in hopes of becoming a doctor. Jill has also been a Senator of the Colleges of Arts in the 103rd Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi and is currently serving on the 104th Senate. From this trip, she hopes to obtain more cultural understanding of Japan and the relations America has with the country. She also hopes to eat lots of yummy food and make wonderful memories on the trip.

Jennifer Kakio
English, Class of 2017
Jennifer is in her final semester in the English program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Although she is not declared as an American Studies student, Jennifer has taken American Studies courses for the past year and half.  As a nisei, Jennifer felt it was important to learn the history of the Japanese and Japanese Americans. Currently in America, the topic of immigration rights has become a hot button issue. Since we are at a critical moment, Jennifer has decided to dedicate her career in Education and Policy Analysis. One of her personal beliefs on racism is all races need to band together in harmony, which is why she was interested in the University of Hawaii’s TOMODACHI Inouye Scholarship. The act of traveling mixed with the educational learning of other cultures, customs, languages, etc. can only enrich an individual and his/her society.

Charles Kim
Psychology, Class of 2017
Charles was born and raised in Maui in which Kahului is his current hometown. He currently lives with his sister in Piikoi in Oahu as they complete their college studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He will graduate this semester with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. His current career goal is to become a police officer here in Hawai’i. He wishes to serve and protect the community that gave him the opportunity to make a positive impact in people’s lives and the world. He is both Korean and Japanese, however he had a strong Japanese influence on his life mainly due to his Japanese grandmother and the strong Japanese presence here in Hawai’i. He hopes to learn more about Japan’s identity and the role it played in shaping his life.

Kelli Lyman
History, Class of 2018
Kelli was born and raised in Kāne‘ohe, Hawai‘i. She is currently a junior studying United States history and minoring in American Studies. She is a member of the university’s Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honors society. She is a student assistant at the Financial Economics & Institutions Department at the Shilder College of Business. In her spare time she likes to spend time with the people she loves, watch cooking shows, and enjoys going to the beach. She is looking forward to learning more about the Japanese culture, as well as the history of Japan. She is excited to try the well-known delicious food of Japan, but is also excited to experience the natural beauty of Japan, as this will be her first international travel.

Amy Moore
American Studies and English, Class of 2017
Amy is a Chancellor’s Scholar recipient as well as a member of multiple campus organizations such Golden Key International Honor Society and Manoa Pre-Law Association. She was a founding member of the UH chapter sorority Phi Mu. After graduation she hopes to attend law school and focus on either criminal or real estate law. Amy is Chinese-American and was born in Nanning China, but raised in California, Oregon, and Maui. In her free time she enjoys traveling, hiking, running, and photography. This is her first trip to Japan and she is greatly looking forward to learning about Japanese culture as well as experiencing it first hand.

Tyler Okunami
Biochemistry, Class of 2019
Tyler is currently a sophomore, class of 2019, studying Biochemistry at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He currently works as a dental assistant at a dental practice near Ala Moana, and hopes to someday become a dentist. Tyler was born and raised in Mililani, Hawai’i. During his free time, Tyler enjoys going to beach, hiking, and watching television. His favorite television series is The Office. Tyler is a fifth generation Japanese American and is excited to be part of the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars program, to learn more about Japanese culture and to make new friends.

Alvin Phouksouvath
Economics, Class of 2020
Alvin works as Networks Technician at UH’s ITC building, specializing in network fixes on campus. In his free time he like to skate and make short films around campus. He has never been to Japan and is excited to meet all the people he will come across on this journey.

Chantelle Sonoda
Social Work, Class of 2019
Chantelle was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii and is currently studying Social Work and minoring in dance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. As a student, she also devotes her time to Mid Pacific Elementary School as a first and second grade after school care advisor. Her passions include dancing, crocheting, and costume making to keep her constantly moving and busy. Chantelle is a fourth-generation Japanese-American from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and loves to continuously explore and immerse herself in Japanese history and culture. She is excited to be part of the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program and is ready to learn about the relationship between Japan and America. Through this experience, she plans to use the knowledge she gains from this program to help her in her future field of Social Work.

Charissa Tan
Microbiology and Psychology, Class of 2019
Charissa is a pre-medical student in her second year of studying microbiology and psychology. As a recipient of the Regents Scholarship, she hopes to make the most of her time at UH Manoa by actively involving herself in both campus and community life. She currently works as a laboratory assistant in the Microbiology and PEPS department, holds leadership positions in clubs such as Colleges Against Cancer and RAPS, and regularly volunteers with the Queen’s Medical Center and her church. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, exercising through dance-inspired workouts, and traveling. Charissa is excited for the opportunity to visit Tokyo and Fukuoka as a TOMODACHI Inouye Scholar and is looking forward to learning, experiencing, and eventually sharing the Japanese culture.
Chelsea Tanaka
Sociology, Class of 2020
Chelsea is a fourth-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. This summer, she will be attending the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders through the American Association of University Women’s scholarship. Chelsea is passionate about civil rights and aspires to become an attorney to work on immigration, health, family, and civil rights law. At UH, Chelsea is a member of the Honors Program, Human Rights Association, and HOSA-Future Health Professionals. She plays the clarinet in the UH Wind Ensemble and is a recipient of the Achievement Scholarship. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, playing with her dogs, and collecting mugs. Chelsea is thrilled to be a part of the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program. She looks forward to learning more about Senator Daniel Inouye’s impact on Hawai’i and Japan, and plans to incorporate her experiences into her future career.

Tate Williams
English, Class of 2019
Tate works as a Realtor with Locations and has a full schedule. On days off she likes to head to the beach and take her puppy swimming or read a good mystery novel.  She was born and raised in Hawai’i and has a lot to share about Hawaiian culture. Ever since she took her first Japanese language class in 2015 she has been obsessed with all things Japan. She is excited to finally have an opportunity to visit Japan and to share and exchange culture with a nation she so admires.

Elizabeth Winnicki
Biology, Class of 2020
Elizabeth is an undergraduate research assistant in genetics at the Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Department and a course assistant in Calculus III at the Department of Mathematics. During her free time, she loves to dance hula, practice yoga and hike the breathtaking trails of the Hawaiian islands. Elizabeth’s enthusiasm for knowledge and desire to learn about and understand the world has led her to explore different cultures through a variety of activities including the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program. Elizabeth is eager to expand her knowledge of the Japanese culture, experience the beauty of the country and develop connections between the people of Japan and Hawaii.

Brendan Woo
Kinesiology, Class of 2017
Brendan hopes to get into PT school to become a physical therapist. Brendan works at the Warrior Recreational Center, where he is a service associate, personal trainer, and does physical therapy. He also volunteers at Moon Physical Therapy. When not at school or work, Brendan enjoys working out and watching sports.

Kiana Yasana
English, Class of 2019
Kiana was born and raised in Hawai’i and had the honor of participating in the Hawai’i-Okinawa student exchange program in 2009. As a third generation Japanese-American she is always excited to learn more about her Japanese heritage. She is invested in pop culture and current events, and is very excited to participate in the TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program, especially now that Japan and America have strengthened their ties. She looks forward to meeting new people, hopefully making connections, and gaining an even better understand of Japanese culture.

Angeline Zhou
Biochemistry, Class of 2020
Raised in Waikiki, Angeline cherishes her early memories of strolling down Kuhio street at sunset with her family and hearing a multitude of languages being spoken around her. Communication has since been an interest of hers, and she is honored to help represent Hawaii as part of the 2017 University of Hawai’I Tomodachi Inouye Scholars group. Angeline is excited to learn more about Japan, as the Japanese influence in Hawaii has undoubtedly impacted her life, but she has never truly been able to explore it. This will be her first time in Japan, and she is counting down the days until she gets to create memories with her UH Manoa peers and the Kyushu University students.


Dr. Dennis Ogawa, Coordinating Professor

Dennis M. Ogawa received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1969 where he was honored as one of the founders of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. His teaching and research interests are in the area of Japanese American Studies, Television and Ethnic Identity, and Multicultural Studies.Professor Ogawa’s books (a number of which are best sellers for the University of Hawaii Press) include Jan Ken Po: The World of Hawaii’s Japanese Americans, Kodomo No Tame Ni — For The Sake of The Children, and An Unlikely Revolutionary: Matsuo Takabuki and The Making of Modern Hawaii (assisted in autobiography). One of his writings, “From Japs to Japanese — Evolution of A Subculture,” has been cited often as a pivotal essay in the founding of Asian American Film Studies. Scholar Darrel Hamamoto says it was “noteworthy for its seminal contribution to the formal discourse of controlling images in media.” Professor Ogawa also has published articles in journals such as The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Journal of Communications, and Journal of Black Studies. For more information, please see his profile in the UH American Studies Department.

Patsy Iwasaki, Program Instructor
A Communication Department faculty member at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Patsy teaches the series of journalism courses which she created, developed and implemented. She finds teaching, mentoring and encouraging students in applied learning environments exciting and rewarding. She also specializes in Japanese American immigrant history and has conducted extensive research in this area. Receiving a research grant from the Goto of Hiroshima Foundation inspired her to create the graphic novel “Hamakua Hero: A True Plantation Story,” about early Japanese immigrant Katsu Goto, shedding light on an intriguing and tragic, but little known piece of Hawaii’s past. She produced two short videos on Goto for Honolulu’s Bishop Museum’s current “Tradition and Transition: Stories of Hawaii Immigrants” exhibit and is currently working on a full length documentary on Goto and his niece Dr. Fumiko Kaya for which she recently received a grant from the Hawaii State Legislature, YWCA, UH Diversity and Equity Initiative and others. This past spring break she traveled to Japan with her team to interview key sources and film sites. She has studied at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Oregon, the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Sophia University in Tokyo. She is very active in the community, serving on the boards of several organizations dedicated to education, youth and the Japanese American community.

Christine Kitano, Program Instructor
Christine is an assistant professor at Ithaca College in the Writing and English departments, where she teaches courses in creative writing, poetry, and Asian American literature. Her first book of poems, Birds of Paradise, examines the effects of the Japanese American immigration and WWII incarceration experiences. Her second collection, Sky Country, revisits these themes and will be published by BOA Editions in fall 2017. For the past five summers, she has worked as a teaching and research assistant with Dr. Dennis Ogawa at the University of Hawaii Manoa, and they are currently co-editing a collection of issei oral histories. Christine earned a PhD at Texas Tech University, an MFA at Syracuse University, and a BA at the University of California, Riverside.