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.

  • Akiko Yamada

    Akiko Yamada

    Class of 2020

    Akiko Yamada from Saga, Japan is currently a fourth-year student, concentrating in International Studies. Growing up in northern Kyushu, Japan, an area that has a long history of cultural interactions with East Asian countries, she is interested in effective and sustainable foreign policy-making and diplomacy in the context of East Asia and beyond. Her current research includes analysis of diplomatic normalization attempts between North Korea and Japan, denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and the roles of Civil Society Organizations in mediating political tensions. She seeks to pursue a career as a Japanese diplomat in the future.

  • Image of Amrita Sood.

    Amrita Sood

    Class of 2020

    Amrita Sood, born and raised in New Delhi, India, is currently a fourth-year student concentrating in Environmental Studies. The increasing air pollution levels and degraded environment in India sparked her interest in climate change and sustainability. Through her liberal arts education, she aims to apply scientific knowledge and practical skills to contribute to sustainable humanistic development. Studying abroad in the United States and Japan, she is interested in learning about the role developed nations play in reducing greenhouse gas levels. She wants to combat the current climate crisis through international relations and national policies. Her other interests include social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and education.

  • bikash

    Bikash Gupta

    Class of 2020

    Bikash Gupta is a senior pursuing economics and politics at Soka University of America. Gupta comes from the southern part of Nepal. He studied abroad in Strasbourg (France) in the spring of 2019. He is interested in institutions and how they shape people’s behaviors. Gupta has undertaken internships and fellowships at the Ministry of Women in Nepal, The Carter Center, and a Californian State Senate office. Most recently, he was a PPIA fellow at Princeton University. Bikash loves cooking South Asian dishes, playing cricket and plans to visit East Asia next summer. 

  • Image of Hinako Irei.

    Hinako Irei

    Class of 2020

    Hinako Irei is a student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration. Hinako was born and raised in Okinawa, a small tropical island in Japan. The Battle of Okinawa during WWII severely affected her family, so she learned the importance of peace from a young age. Hinako’s passion is to build global friendships for peace. She studied abroad and received leadership training in Australia, Montana, Michigan, Virginia, and Valencia, Spain. In Virginia, she lived with a military family who took care of her as their own daughter. As an Okinawan woman, she has been practicing peacebuilding through trusting relationships and dialogue. This summer, the PBRC granted Hinako the opportunity to intern at Brazil Soka School in São Paulo, Brazil. During her time in Brazil, she learned how to create a nurturing educational environment based on the value of humanistic education. She has also been a supporter of the International Hiroshima Peace Summit for high school students and attended an exchange in Honolulu, Hawaii. As a student of Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, the former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, she will continuously promote the Culture of Peace and is eager to collaborate with educators around the globe to contribute to a more peaceful world.

  • Image of Jordyn Saito.

    Jordyn Saito

    Class of 2020

    As the daughter of a Filipina immigrant, raised in Hawaii, Jordyn is interested in global routes of imperialism and forms of resistance against neocolonialism, heteropatriarchy, and militarization. From her position at the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women, she learned to apply a critical gender, race, settler-colonial, and third-world centered policy analysis with implications to Pacific nations of the Global South. There, she organized with women and GNC folks from isolated, immigrant, and indigenous communities to center their voices within the metropole. Jordyn hopes to continue thinking through indigenous and diasporic feminisms as well as organizing for colonized women’s self-determination within the Pacific.

  • Image of Katelynn Jankowiak.

    Katelynn Jankowiak

    Class of 2020

    Katelynn Jankowiak is an undergraduate student concentrating in Environmental Studies. After graduation, she hopes to build upon her current research on the ecological effects of invasive species. She is committed to understanding how different ecosystems work and how to best serve the communities that depend on their continual health. Her ultimate goal is to link environmental policy and education to action, resulting in the protection of vulnerable ecosystems in the Pacific Basin and beyond.

  • Image of Mark Chia.

    Mark Chia

    Class of 2020

    Mark Chia is a fourth-year student of International Studies concentration. His research interests include the history of Southeast Asia with a focus on post-colonialism, minority representation in museums, and race/ethnic relations. Growing up in multiracial/ethnic/religious Singapore, he soon became interested in the museum institution and the ways in which minorities are represented. He is grateful for the opportunity to work with the PBRC and to further develop a career within the field of museum studies. His future plans include becoming a museum curator and contributing back to Singapore’s burgeoning arts and culture scene.

  • Image of Nikita Sukmono.

    Nikita Sukmono

    Class of 2020

    Nikita’s primary passions lie in international environmental policy within the Southeast Asian context. This includes interests expanding into the greater impact of environmental harm on both the greater Pacific Basin area, as well as the economic dynamics of smaller communities. Navigating the ability of one region’s environmental consequences to travel human-made borders remains an issue she is interested in studying further. Growing up traveling between her home in Connecticut and her parents’ homeland of Central Java, Indonesia, she has come to deeply appreciate the richness of culture, diversity, and unique approaches that will become vital as the Pacific Basin becomes more central on the world stage.

  • Image of Shivi Thakur.

    Shivi Thakur

    Class of 2020

    Shivi was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and is concentrating in International Studies. As a result of growing up in a developing country, she was able to work and volunteer with many organizations that focused their works on poverty, education, and livelihood development. These experiences eventually stimulated her interest in development and diplomacy. Through her classes at SUA and resources provided by the PBRC, she hopes to learn about the crucial role of developed countries in the developmental processes of poorer countries. Shivi wants to research more about how the interests and decisions of economically strong countries determine how less developed countries advance. After completing her studies, she intends to return to Nepal to work in rural development through NGOs and IOs. 

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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. 

Junior Scholars Program Alumni

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)