With the 48th annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival a month away, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Program introduced its four candidates for 2015 queen March 14 at the Union Bank Community Room in San Francisco’s Japantown.
The program, to be held April 11, will select the new queen and court on the first night of the festival. The court will go on to represent Northern California’s Nikkei community and meet with Japanese American community members and organizations.
The candidates are Taylor Keiko-Lehua Davis, Nina Marie Myers, Kelli Asako Sum and Karine Brenda Worley.
Taylor Keiko-Lehua Davis, 24, of Stockton, Calif., is the daughter of David and Maryam Davis. She is a 2009 graduate of Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton and a senior at Sacramento State University, where she is studying dietetics. Her professional ambition is to become a dietitian to counsel people with eating disorders. The Gosei (fifth-generation Japanese American) learned about the program after joining the Stockton chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. “I haven’t grown up around Japanese culture per se, so it’s very new to me, but very exciting to learn all of the cultural traditions,” she said. Sponsored by the Nikkei Lions Club of San Francisco, her creative expression will feature softball, which she has played for 16 years.
Nina Marie Myers, 22, of Stanford, Calif., is the daughter of Martin and Akemi Myers. She graduated in 2011 from Lakewood High School in Arvada, Colo. and is studying biology at Stanford University. She joined the program to get more involved with the Japanese American community. “I’m really excited to meet people within the community and get involved,” she said. “I feel like most of my involvement with the Japanese American community has been on campus and I haven’t really had much of a chance to branch out and meet other people and get involved with other organizations, so I’m really looking forward to that.” A Shin-Nisei (second-generation postwar) on her mother’s side, Myers joined the Japanese student association in college and studied abroad at Doshisha and Keio universities in Japan. Sponsored by Takara Sake USA Inc., her creative expression will be dragon boat racing, which she started after joining the dragon boat club as a freshman in college.
Kelli Asako Sum, 22, of San Jose, Calif., is daughter of Steve Sum and the late Linda Tatsuyo Uno-Sum. She was inspired to join the program by her mother, a 1983 Cherry Blossom court member, whom Sum lost at 14. Sum said taking part in the program has “always been” something on her mind. I moved back from Oregon this year and I was looking forward to it,” the Yonsei (fourth-generation Japanese American) said. Sum moved back to the Bay Area to attend San Jose State University, where she studies industrial engineering. Inspired by a fateful conversation with her math professor, Sum decided to pursue industrial and systems engineering, the “one discipline of engineering that deals with people the most.” She is sponsored by Benihana and her creative talent will be koto.
Karine Brenda Worley, 19, of Santa Clara, Calif. is the daughter of Michiyo Worley. A Shin-Nisei, with family in Iwate Prefecture, Worley traveled to Japan most recently after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of the country on March 11, 2011. She graduated from Santa Clara High School in 2013. Currently, she is studying computer engineering at San Jose State University and hopes to build new technology, including robots that could help with disaster relief. Her pursuit of engineering congealed while digging debris in Iwate. “I was thinking, instead of having (rescue workers) risk their lives, why can’t we use technology to find … people?” she said. After seeing how programs such as the Queen Program have helped young women develop and mature, she was inspired to join the program. Sponsored by Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, she will present her creative expression on cooking.
The 2015 queen program will take place April 11 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St., in San Francisco’s Japantown. Tickets for the Queen Program are $25. To reserve tickets or more information, visit www.nccbfqueenprogram.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.