This marks the 31st year of the Cherry Blossom Community Service Scholarship Program for graduating seniors of Japanese descent in Northern California. Administered by the San Francisco Nikkei Lions Club, the program awards two $2,500 scholarships to deserving high school graduates going to college. Winners will participate in various Festival activities, including the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, April 14th at 1:00 p.m. on the Peace Plaza Stage.

Corey Hiroshi Kato is a graduating senior from Vacaville High School with a weighted GPA of 4.31 and ranks 3rd in his class of 438. He is the son of Darin and Michele Kato of Vacaville, and
plans to attend University of California, Los Angeles to major in Chemical Engineering. He has taken Advanced Placement (AP) classes in English Language, Calculus AB, and Chemistry, and is presently taking AP English Literature, AP Computer Science, AP Physics, and AP Calculus BC. He is a National Merit Scholar and received the AP Scholar Award. Corey has been active as a volunteer with the Vacaville Storehouse where he has organized meals for underprivileged school children, the Linus Blanket Project that provides handmade blankets to the homeless community, and the Wreaths Across America which places Christmas wreaths on the headstones of veterans at the Sacramento Valley Cemetery. His school counselor praises Corey as “a leader [who] cares about hard-work, follow-through, commitment, and treating others with respect. Corey is an organized, thoughtful, and focused young man who plans to work for NASA someday.”

Corey has participated in the orchestra through all four years of high school and is currently the Principal Cellist in the Premier Orchestra. He is also a guitarist, vocalist, drummer, and percussionist for the Jazz Ensemble and has been the lead of a garage band called “California Roll.” Corey is the principal guitarist for the Solano County Honor Jazz Band. He is on the Varsity Cross Country Team and the Varsity Golf Team. He is the President of the Vacaville High Interact Service Club and a member of the California Scholarship Federation. Corey is an Eagle Scout, as well as a recipient of the Bronze Palm. A retired music teacher who has known him since he was in fifth grade “has seen him develop as a musician and charismatic leader. His ability to master everything he does continues to astonish me – he must never sleep!”

Shuka Park is a graduating senior from Mira Loma High School in Sacramento with a weighted GPA of 4.65. He is the son of Yoko Ishizuka and Changweon Park of Sacramento, and plans to major in Neuroscience and Psychology in college. He has taken International Baccalaureate (IB) classes in Higher Level (HL) Mathematics, HL Biology, Economics, HL Japanese, HL English, Physics, and Theory of Knowledge. He is a National Merit Scholar Commended Student and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Shuka plays the clarinet in the school’s honor band and is 1st Clarinet in the Clarinet Quartet. As a member of the school’s Math Club, he organizes the school-wide Pi Day event and hosts elementary/middle school math tournaments. He is also the founding member and current president of the school’s Taiko Club. He has taken the club to various events to perform, such as the Asian Arts Fair, International Expo, and Children’s Day Festival. He is also the president of the school’s Japan Club which, under his leadership, explores topics such as Japanese technology, World War II Japan, traditional Japanese “onsen,” and others that pertain to Japanese culture. He is also an accomplished taekwondo athlete, having won 1st Place in the UC Berkeley Taekwondo Open, Stanford Taekwondo Open, and US Open International Hanmadang this past year.

Shuka is fluent in both English and Japanese and uses his abilities to help teach in the Japanese Language School at a Buddhist church. He volunteers as a classroom assistant at the Powerhouse Science Center, a supervisor at the Bridges After-School Program, and a tutor at the Sacramento Public Library. He is the president of the Free the Children Club which supports the WE organization in their worldwide goal to support public education in developing nations. Shuka has “always believed in the power of personal connections and inspiring others. We can all work together to transcend any obstacle or suffering and develop into better human beings.”