On October 28, 2022, at the ASU 365 Community Union, members of JACL-AZ joined Dr. Nakagawa’s family, friends and fellow faculty members to celebrate her lifelong commitment to education and learning. In reflecting on her professional career (Associate Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies – APAS – and Culture, Society and Education in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University), family life and the historical legacy as co-owner of Baseline Flowers, Dr. Nakagawa shared the following thoughts on learning and teaching.
I am honored to be recognized with all these other amazing women. Thank you to Dr. Joel Martin for this opportunity.
If I am any kind of educational leader at all, it’s because I have truly been the beneficiary of incredible teachers. So many of those individuals who have mentored me and given so much of their knowledge to me are in the room today and I thank you all. There are a few I would like to thank specifically.
In particular, thank you to Claudia Kaercher, the founder and executive director of Island Liaison, who is a friend and mentor to me, an inspiration to everyone she meets and also my nominator—thank you so very much, Claudia. Thank you to all my colleagues and friends from ASU. I am so lucky to be a part of groups of people who teach me all the time and share their knowledge with me. It’s such a gift to be an educator in that kind of community and I’m thankful for all of you.
Thank you also to all my community leader friends in the room. I have learned so much about the ways to give back and believe in making your community a better place. Thank you all for inspiring me in that way.’ I want to recognize Dr. Elsie Moore, who passed away in spring of this year. Elsie was a mentor and friend to me and the reason that I was able to come to ASU. So all that I’ve accomplished here has been because of Elsie.
My husband, Tim Eigo couldn’t be here because he is at a conference. But Tim shows up no matter what I ask him to do. He’s always there and my biggest cheerleader. Our children, Willa and Thea, are here. I just feel like the luckiest person to be a parent to them. They’re wonderful human beings and I’ve learned so much more from them than I think I’ve ever taught them. And finally, I wanted to recognize my own parents.
My mom, Tatsuko Nakagawa, passed away over 20 years ago and my dad, Nick Nakagawa, passed away last year. As others have mentioned I took over the family business—shout out to Baseline Flowers. Everyday when I go to work I think about them. I can’t imagine what it was like to build that business. Thinking about them teaches me perseverance and what it means to keep going through dif icult times. There’s a saying that my mom had, “Even a monkey falls from a tree.” She would say that not to remind us that it’s ok to make mistakes but to remind us “don’t get a big head” and “don’t get too full of yourself.” So I accept this award humbly and in honor of my mom. I also think of a saying “A kindness is never wasted,” which is the way my parents lived their lives and the way I try to live my life. And I thank you all for the kindnesses you’ve shown me in so many ways. (And please don’t forget to vote on November 8.) Thank you.
– Kathy Nakagawa
Photos: Kathy Nakagawa, video
presentation; Claudia Kaercher, Kathy
with her award, and Dr. Joel P. Martin, Event
Founder. Photos courtesy of Claudia Kaercher.
Donna Cheung and Kathy
Keli Hong, Kathy, and Ann
Miura; Willa Eigo, Thea Eigo and Kathy.
Photos by Donna Cheung and