68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Taylor Date
Taylor Date


High School: Punahou School

College/Degree: Seattle University, Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications, minor in Journalism

Occupation: Marketing assistant

Hobbies: Searching for cute cafes, playing soccer and watching k-dramas.

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

“Just over a year ago, I was sitting on the floor of my empty apartment in Shizuoka, Japan. It was the first time that I was completely on my own and looking forward to the experience of working abroad. I made a promise to myself to take advantage of the cultural opportunities and live ‘kaizen.’ I called upon my childhood Japanese classes to engage in simple conversations with my neighbors and peers. I took baking classes, language courses and even joined a soccer team! Over time, I developed meaningful connections with the community members around me. When it was time for me to depart, I was very sad to leave Shizuoka. Upon returning home to Hawaii, I wanted to continue this journey of growth and apply the principle of kaizen into my everyday life by challenging myself to new experiences and developing meaningful connections.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Lauren Holt
Lauren Holt


High School: Fairfield High School

College/Degree: Xavier University, Bachelor of Science in Music Education, Bachelor of Arts in Violin Performance; Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Master of Music in Violin Performance; and University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa

Occupation: Violinist and educator

Hobbies: Running, traveling, baking, crafting and yoga

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

“I practice ‘kaizen’ by getting comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Three years ago, I moved from the comfort of my home in the Midwest. I found myself 4,000 miles away from my family, friends and all things familiar. It turned out to be the best decision that I have ever made. This challenge has allowed me to plant new roots, cultivate meaningful relationships, advance my career and connect with my Japanese culture.

“While moving across the ocean is an extreme example, I also honor the growth that occurs through the smaller-scale, everyday actions in life. As a musician, I practice my violin daily. I take pride in the improvement that is achieved over time. It is important to celebrate these small, incremental changes, as they lend themselves to continuous growth. Leaving the realm of what was comfortable has allowed for greater opportunities than I could even dream.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Danicia Honda
Danicia Honda


High School: Pearl City High School

College/Degree: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature, Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature

Occupation: Office manager

Hobbies: Listening to podcasts and sewing at the moment.

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

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ The wise words of my former Serteens advisor remind me every day that constant, continuous progress is more sustainable than sudden, drastic change. When I was applying for the Board of Education student member position in high school, I needed to accept that I didn’t have the same experience as the other seasoned business and state leaders on the board, but that serving on the board would allow me to gain experience in a professional world while providing a useful student perspective to improve education in Hawai‘i. Now, as an office manager for the chairwoman of the State Senate Education Committee, I am thankful for my inspiring supervisors and coworkers who instilled in me the values of dedication and perseverance as I continue to pursue life voraciously and without reservation, chasing larger elephants, one bite at a time.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Lauren Kobayashi
Lauren Kobayashi


High School: Saint Francis High School

College/Degree: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa

Occupation: Student

Hobbies: Yoga and traveling

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

“I’ve found that for me the key to growth and improvement is staying positive. By focusing on the good rather than the bad I find that I am capable of having the most growth. When I am able to be positive, I believe in myself and have the strength to carry out my goals. Positivity is important because it adds hope to my life. Hope drives me to be a better person and improve the things I wish to because I believe I can. When, I’m positive and hopeful I can see that even the most insignificant growth still has meaning and will lead me to my goals. To have continuous growth we must recognize that even the smallest steps are significant.”

68th Cherry Blossom Queen Contestant, Devynn Kochi
Devynn Kochi


High School: King Kekaulike High School

College/Degree: University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa

Occupation: Student

Hobbies: Dancing, powerlifting, cooking, learning and educating about Japanese American history.

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

“Growing up with ADHD, being bullied for my Okinawan heritage, and constantly dealing with health problems continuously made me question my identity and challenged my everyday life. However, instead of loathing these trials, I’ve realized that as driving factors of my past they continuously shape my identity, which has brought me to become the person I am today.

“Setting yearly, monthly and daily goals help me make sure that I’m continuously growing. And because of these goals I’ve become active in community service and sports as an outlet for my ADHD, became a ethnic studies major to become active in political issues and to educate and give back to my community, and through powerlifting I can be strong even though sometimes by health doesn’t feel the same way.  By always looking for goals to work towards I am always full of determination for the next chapter of my life!”


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