68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Jaylin Petersen
Jaylin Petersen


High School: Roosevelt High School

College/Degree: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science; John Hopkins University

Occupation: Special education teacher

Hobbies: Dancing (ballet, contemporary and hip hop), reading, outdoor activities and spending time with my family, friends and dog.

How do you live “kaizen,” continuous growth/improvement, in your daily life?

“As a teacher, I feel I am given many opportunities to show ‘kaizen’ because of my students, who motivate me to grow and teach me so much on a daily basis. My profession also gives me ample opportunity to improve because I am constantly reflecting, evaluating, and changing what I do to best fit the needs of all of my students. In a general sense, I feel that I live ‘kaizen’ because it is something very important to me and I make it a point to do so. I actively search for ways to continue my growth, whether it be through attending professional development courses to become more effective in my teaching, or getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new; I truly believe that living ‘kaizen’ is a lifelong journey because there will always be ways that we can better ourselves and continue to grow and improve.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Manabu Sakurai
Manabu Sakurai


High School: McKinley High School

College/Degree: Chapman University, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with and emphasis in Management, Minor in Japanese

Occupation: Account executive

Hobbies: Traveling, eating and doing yoga

How do you live “kaizen,” continuous growth/improvement, in your daily life?

“I live ‘kaizen’ daily by knowing that there is always something I can improve on. I listen and assess myself, in addition to taking advice from those who matter to me.  This helps me focus on how I can grow emotionally, physically, and professionally. I start my mornings by writing down three things that I am grateful for, to improve emotionally. Eating healthy and working out helps me to maintain a physically energetic lifestyle. To develop professionally, I learn a great deal from my managers and gain experience through work, watch motivational TED Talks, and read. I practice these on a daily basis and incorporate small changes to improve. At the end of each day, I want to be a better version of myself.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Sophia Teruya
Sophia Teruya


High School: ‘Iolani School

College/Degree: Whitworth University, Bachelor of Arts in Marketing

Occupation: Bank branch manager

Hobbies: Dancing kahiko and ‘auana hula, barre fitness exercising and solving jigsaw puzzles

How do you live “kaizen,” continuous growth/improvement, in your daily life?

“As the eldest of four sisters, I was taught that ‘kai’ (change) would be constant and essential for the ‘zen’ (good) of everyone. I’ve watched my father practice the kaizen philosophy in every aspect of his life by caring for his patients, volunteering in countries that lack dental care and leaving a positive impact through his commitment and compassion. He has shown my sisters and I that even though we are incredibly unique, we use our individual strengths to support one another.

“I am fortunate that both my families, at home and at the bank branch I manage practice the philosophy of unity. We are a group of people with one purpose and each person must do their part to encourage small improvements.

“The business practice of ‘kaizen’ is a way of life. It reminds us to be disciplined and dedicated to making decisions for the benefit of all.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Kelsey Uyeda
Kelsey Uyeda


High School: Leilehua High School

College/Degree: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, Bachelor of Arts in Biology

Occupation: Optometric technician

Hobbies: Dancing, going to concerts with my friends, shopping, baking desserts and going to the beach

How do you live “kaizen,” continuous growth/improvement, in your daily life?

“In fourth grade I dreamt of becoming an optometrist and now that dream is one of my biggest goals. I live ‘kaizen’ not only by continuously putting in the effort to advance my education and career, but also by appreciating the setbacks and failures, which gives me the opportunity to grow. I realize that education alone is not enough, but the positive mindset, work ethic, and sense of responsibility that I have gained in addition, are what truly contribute to my future. What pushes me forward is the recognition that every day is an opportunity to pursue optometry and better myself in the process. I am blessed to be able to continue my education and to be surrounded by people who support me. Living ‘kaizen’ allows me to appreciate the progress I have made, while also inspiring me to continue to work towards the dream of my fourth grade self.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Mia Yoshimoto
Mia Yoshimoto


High School: Kapolei High School

College/Degree: Honolulu Community College, Associates of Applied Science Cosmetology

Occupation: Student

Hobbies: Crocheting Tsum Tsums, designing hair/makeup for local theatre, and telling my cat how much I love him

How do you live “kaizen,” continuous growth/improvement, in your daily life?

“I always tell my friends and family, ‘Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.’ They always look at me like I’m crazy when I say this but eventually, they understand. When I look back at who I was just a few years ago it leaves me speechless. I started school full-time and got my degree, started my dream job, and made so many amazing new friends. I ask myself, ‘How did I grow so much as a person?’ Change only happens when you want it to happen and the outcome is what you make it to be. I changed because I wanted to change, and I grew into a better person by wanting to be one. Every day I wake up and I say, ‘Today I will get the bear!’”


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