Junior Scholars

The Junior Scholars program provides support to SUA students whose research interests reflect the PBRC’s interests in humanistic development in the Pacific Basin and beyond.

Current Junior Scholars

Created in 2014, the program consists of approximately a dozen students who are included in PBRC programs and planning, and are provided with access to the PBRC library, a profile on our website, a budget for purchasing books, and access to conference funding. The call for new members typically goes out in the fall, and is open to students from any concentration or year.

  • Image of Shunji Fueki.

    Shunji Fueki

    Class of 2021

    After graduating from high school in Tokyo, Shunji Fueki came to the US to study politics, economics, and international relations at Soka. Specifically, he is interested in researching Japanese politics, nationalism in East Asian countries, and political environments surrounding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Shanghai to improve his Chinese language ability and experience local life in the rapidly growing country. His extracurricular activities include working as an Executive Committee member for the 71st Japan-America Student Conference, as well as interning at the Japanese Parliament and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations.

  • Image of Victoria Huynh.

    Victoria Huynh

    Class of 2021

    Victoria Mai Huynh is a student of Asian feminist, Black feminist praxis, and subaltern/postcolonial studies. She draws from anti-imperialist, Black radical revolutionary movements and lived experiences so as to develop pragmatic means of dismantling the white heteropatriarchal colonial metropole, and sees praxis vis-a-vis grounded social justice activism, the community-building marginalized/indigenous communities are already engage in, Ethnic Studies pedagogy, and decolonial educational reform. Honoring her communities’ and refugee mother’s lived experience(s) escaping the Cambodian genocide, she looks specifically to dismantling the institutions and fetishizing ideologies that ideologically as well as materially exploit bodies of Asian and Pacific Islander womxn (such as the sex industry, cultural prostitution, gender-based violence, Orientalism, etc.). She asks: What is Revolution? What is Decolonization? Not only what can it look like, but what must it look like?

  • A photo of Tayna

    Tayná Baptista Ferreira

    Class of 2022

    Tayná is a third-year student, born in São Paulo, Brazil, concentrating in International Studies. Growing up in different regions of Brazil and witnessing regional inequality, Tayná nurtured a passion for governance for human rights and environmental justice. Tayná aims to use their education to develop research that can better inform equitable governance and the provision of basic services in Latin America that challenge ethnocentric concepts of development and foster South-South cooperation. Tayná has presented their research alongside their Soka peers in the California Brazilianist Conference, the Southern California Conferences of Undergraduate Research, and the Southern Student Leadership Drive-In.

  • Image of Ninh Le.

    Ninh Le

    Class of 2022

    Ninh Le is a student from Thanh Hoa, Vietnam. As a concentrator in Environmental Studies, his research interests lie in biogeochemical responses to climate change and the effects of climate change on public health. Since climate change-induced droughts threaten water security, many developing countries want to develop widely-accessible technologies to ensure a steady supply of clean water. Ceramic filtering is one of those, but arsenic leaching poses health-related concerns. Currently, he is working with Professor Michael Schaefer to examine arsenic leaching from ceramic water filters utilized by various Global South countries, thereby coming up with recommendations for technological improvements. In the future, he hopes to translate his passion for sciences and social justice into meaningful impacts in underserved communities.

  • Image of Thuy Le.

    Thuy Le

    Class of 2022

    Thuy Le is a global-minded and highly motivated Vietnamese young woman. At Soka, she concentrates in International Studies with a focus on East Asian politics and economics in the modern era. In politics, she is specifically interested in the influence of China’s soft power on the regional foreign affair. In economics, she wants to study the effectiveness of the Official Development Assistance fund from Japan and China in Southeast Asian developing countries. Thuy received Freetorino Scholarship to study Chinese politics at TOChina Summer School in Torino, Italy. She was also selected as Delegate at the United Nations Study Tour 2019, Governance and Geopolitics Delegate at Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations Conference 2020, and Delegate at the Duke - UNC China Leadership Summit 2020. 

  • A photo of Minori

    Minori Sakai

    Class of 2022

    Minori Sakai was born and raised in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan in the Kansai region. She is a third-year student concentrating in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a focus on social and economic policies in East Asia. With her keen interest in evidence-based policy-making, she is currently involved with a research project on the effective use of disaster prevention and mitigation research results at SciREX center in the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. In the future, she desires to be a policymaker who serves the marginalized group of people in society.

  • Image of Leonardo Salvatore.

    Leonardo Salvatore

    Class of 2022

    Leonardo was born in Rome, Italy, and is pursuing a degree in Humanities and International Studies. He moved to the US at the age of 15. Having lived in four states and several cities ever since, the frequent exposures to numerous cultures he experienced ignited his passion for languages, which led him to spend one year working and studying in Florianópolis, Brazil, in 2017-18. Brazil conquered his heart, and he is currently conducting research on a poorly understood yet pivotal event in 19th-century Brazilian history. He is interested in historical commentaries and archival research, especially with respect to Latin America, and hopes to bridge past and present to devise potential projects and solutions for a more politically stable future, whether it be in Italy, in Brazil, or in the myriad places he hopes to learn from.

  • A photo of Vibhu

    Vibhu Walia

    Class of 2022

    Vibhu Walia is a junior pursuing economics and philosophy at the Soka University of America. He was born in Kurukshetra, India. Growing up in an agricultural state of a developing country, Vibhu saw how micro-capital could shape families and was curious to learn more. He is interested in ‘joint-liability groups’ as a tool in the success of microfinance institutions. His hobbies include standup comedy and speedcubing.

  • A photo of Arohee

    Aarohee Bhattarai

    Class of 2023

    Aarohee Bhattarai is a sophomore trailing Life Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences as her concentrations. Born and raised in Nepal between the echoing fruition of the institutional and public health systems, being in the US was initially a huge take on industrial action, how advanced the infrastructural systems were, and the intensity of where the health-systems had evolved. However, as the COVID-19 cases exploded in the States and elsewhere, the “public health” phrase overwhelmed the news. She learned Asian countries, with institutional learning on pandemic and semi-robust infrastructures were taming COVID-19 far more efficiently than many developed western countries. Therefore, she is interested to explore more about psychological behaviors, genetics, and public-health infrastructure, with a major focus on Asian-Pacific health institutions.

  • A photo of Michelle

    Michelle Boralessa

    Class of 2023

    Michelle Boralessa is a student of the Environmental Studies concentration from Massachusetts. Michelle spent many of her summers in her parents’ homeland, Sri Lanka, where air and water pollution endanger the lives of many. Her time in Sri Lanka ignited her interest in the relationship between the environment and public health. She previously studied the causes and potential solutions to arsenic water contamination in Cambodia, and she is currently in a fellowship where she researches about potable water reuse in Los Angeles. She wants to explore what can be achieved through public policy and technology to ensure that the universal right of clean water is a reality for every human.

  • A photo of Chiharu

    Chiharu Nagai

    Class of 2023

    Chiharu Nagai is a second-year student from Kanagawa, Japan. Her field of interest includes social welfare, educational policies, various forms of communication, and literature. Since the end of her first year at Soka, she has remained in Japan due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, she started to work as a volunteer at a local municipal special-needs school, which intrigued her to explore the field of special education. She is interested in the culture of framing disabilities and policies to provide equal educational and occupational opportunities for all. Also, she hopes to explore the values and practices of a diverse and inclusive community in different contexts, including her own experience as a member of SUA. She is grateful for the opportunity to work as a member of PBRC to develop her interests in research.  

  • A photo of Sachi

    Sachi Nishida

    Class of 2023

    Sachi Nishida, born and raised in Japan, is currently a second-year student concentrating in International Studies. Specifically, I am interested in researching Japanese politics and diplomatic relations with East Asian countries as well as the United States. Although the Japan-U.S. relations have been strengthened, Japan has been engaged in territorial disputes with China, Korea, and Russia, further complicating the East Asian security landscape. Through analysis of economic, political, and historical factors surrounding Japan’s security relations, I would like to explore how Japan’s diplomacy should be to enhance international security relations across Asia-Pacific. I believe that my experience at the Japan-American Student Conference and previous research on Japan-U.S., Japan-Korea, and U.S.-China relations will help my future research.

  • A photo of Jenski

    Jenski Nguyen

    Class of 2023

    Jenski Nguyen (he/him &/or they/them) is a sophomore student from Hanoi, Vietnam, currently concentrating in Social and Behavioural Sciences. Growing up in Vietnam where the field of psychology is yet to be fully developed and made accessible to everyone, he has developed an interest and passion for helping people who struggle due to the lack of access to mental health resources. This led him to start working as a crisis intervention counselor to gain more experiences with how to provide psychological first aid and gain insights to the overarching problem of getting the needed help. In numerous communities, especially in Southeast Asia, mental health is still cultural taboo, and the stigma surrounding mental health is etched deeply in people’s preconceived notions and cultural practices, thus preventing many from developing a support system and receiving treatment. Jenski pursues the study Social and Behavioural Sciences in order to better understand the human conditions, social and cultural issues and pave a way for awareness, education and development in psychology and mental health. He hopes to translate his passion into effective social policy-making and reform for cultural norms in his underserved community along with many others, so as to make meaningful impact to help those in need.

  • A photo of Yixin

    Yixin Wang

    Class of 2023

    Yixin Wang is a second-year student from Hangzhou, China. She is concentrating in International Studies with a focus on genocide studies, refugee crisis, and international human rights law. Yixin researched the Rohingya genocide and co-founded an NGO named Louder Than Words to help Rohingya refugee children in 2018. During her freshman year, she took the opportunity of SUA’s Travel Learning Cluster and conducted field research on the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Her current interests lie in the China-India border dispute and transboundary water conflicts in the Brahmaputra River Basin. She aspires to prevent mass atrocities and promote the peaceful settlement of disputes in the Pacific Basin and beyond.

Junior Scholars Program Alumni

Akiko Yamada (Class of 2020)
Amrita Sood (Class of 2020)
Bikash Gupta (Class of 2020)
Hinako Irei (Class of 2020)
Jordyn Saito (Class of 2020)
Katelynn Jankowiak (Class of 2020)
Mark Chia (Class of 2020)
Nikita Sukmono (Class of 2020)
Shivi Thakur(Class of 2020)
 

Samikchhya Bhusal (Class of 2019)
Sofia Dugas (Class of 2019)
Zaw Lin Htet (Class of 2019)
MacKenzie Kermoade (Class of 2019)
Mahesh Kushwaha (Class of 2019)
Prashank Mishra (Class of 2019)
Ha Chau Ngo (Class of 2019)
Yutong Xue (Class of 2019)
Vassil Yorgov (Class of 2019)

Bikash Gupta (Class of 2020)
Nikita Sukmono (Class of 2020)
Shivi Thakur (Class of 2020)
Amrita Sood (Class of 2020)
Victoria Huynh (Class of 2021)
Thuy Le (Class of 2022)

Amanda Boralessa (Class of 2018)
Christopher Looper (Class of 2018)
Alaska Tan (Class of 2018)
Jaroslav Zapletal (Class of 2018)
Yuye Zhou (Class of 2018)
Samikchhya Bhusal (Class of 2019)
Sofia Dugas (Class of 2019)
Zaw Lin Htet (Class of 2019)
MacKenzie Kermoade (Class of 2019)
Mahesh Kushwaha (Class of 2019)

Kenichi Morita (Class of 2017)
Jianmin Shao (Class of 2017)
Amanda Boralessa (Class of 2018)
Christopher Looper (Class of 2018)
Risa Nakayama (Class of 2018)
Alaska Tan (Class of 2018)
Jaroslav Zapletal (Class of 2018)
Yuye Zhou (Class of 2018)
Samikchhya Bhusal (Class of 2019)
Sofia Dugas (Class of 2019)
Zaw Lin Htet (Class of 2019)
Prashank Mishra (Class of 2019)
Yutong Xue (Class of 2019)
Vassil Yorgov (Class of 2019)