ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation

ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation Scholarship

Application Information



The Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation (“ABAWSSF”) provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships to students of Asian heritage currently pursuing a J.D. degree at law schools in the State of Washington.  For 2022, ABAWSSF will award five scholarships in the following amounts:

  • ·         Yamashita Scholarship - $7,500
  • ·         Sharon A. Sakamoto President’s Scholarship - $5,000
  • ·         ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $2,500
  • ·         ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $2,500
  • ·         ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $2,500

The Yamashita Scholarship is named after Takuji Yamashita (1874–1959).  Mr. Yamashita was born in Japan and emigrated to the United States in the 1890s.  He graduated from Tacoma High School in two years, graduated with a law degree from the University of Washington as a part of its second-ever graduating class, and passed the state bar exam. However, in processing his bar application, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a decision that Mr. Yamashita was not eligible to be an American citizen and, therefore, could not practice law.  This decision was overturned, posthumously, nearly 100 years later on March 1, 2001.

The Sharon A. Sakamoto President's Scholarship is named after Sharon Sakamoto, ABAW’s first President (and one if its founders) in 1988.  In law school, Ms. Sakamoto was a part of the legal team for Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American convicted of civil disobedience during World War II. Ms. Sakamoto is now retired, but her prior law practice at Aoki Sakamoto Grant emphasized justice and equality and meeting the needs of clients in the areas of business, estate planning, immigration, and criminal defense. In addition to being active in local and minority bar associations, she has served on the board of Kawabe Memorial House and many other organizations.

Application Process and Requirements

To be eligible for a scholarship, you must be a law student of Asian heritage, currently enrolled in a law school in the State of Washington, and pursuing a J.D. degree.  The following materials are required to apply for the scholarships:

  • 1)      A copy of your résumé;
  • 2)      Evidence of your current enrollment at an American Bar Association accredited law school in the State of Washington (acceptable evidence includes an unofficial law school transcript or, for first year law students, a class schedule provided by the law school);
  • 3)      A personal statement, no longer than 1,000 words, describing your contributions to the Asian Pacific Islander (“API”) community and your plans to continue contributing to the API community following graduation from law school; and
  • 4)      Two (2) references (their name, relationship to you, email, and phone number).

All application materials must be e-mailed to scholarship@abaw.org no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, October 7, 2022. Applications must be in either .PDF or Microsoft Word format.

Candidates in consideration for the next phase of the scholarship process will be contacted on Monday, October 10, 2022, to schedule an interview.  Interviews are currently scheduled to be held on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, by video conference and will last no more than 20 minutes each. 

The recipients of the 2022 ABAWSSF Scholarships will be notified on Monday, October 17, 2022.  A formal announcement of the selected recipients will be made on a later date through the Asian Bar Association of Washington (“ABAW”) newsletter and website.  In preparation for the announcement, scholarship recipients may be required to work with ABAWSSF to record a short video introducing themselves and briefly describing what the scholarship means to them, along with their plans to contribute to the API community in the future. By applying for a scholarship, an applicant agrees to provide such video and to permit the ABAWSSF and/or ABAW to publish any and all information contained in the applicant’s application materials.

Please direct any questions to William Wu, ABAW Scholarship Chair, at williamwu@dwt.com.  

*ABAWSSF reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to change the number of scholarships awarded, the dollar amount of each scholarship, and/or to not award any scholarships in 2022.

*Please note that past scholarship recipients and immediate family members of current ABAWSSF and ABAW voting board members are ineligible for a 2022 ABAWSSF Scholarship.


The Asian Bar Association of Washington is excited to announce the return of the Spring Blossom Fellowship for 2022!

The fellowship will provide one grant of up to $5,000 to a JD student attending a law school in the State of Washington (Gonzaga, SU, or UW) and who will be working with a public interest/service organization during Summer of 2022 and whose work advances the rights of women and/or immigrants.  Applicants must contact a potential employer himself/herself/themselves and arrange for a position in order to qualify for the fellowship.  Thus, applicants should start the process of seeking a summer position as soon as possible. 


Funding for the fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from Hon. Lorraine Lee and John Felleisen, in partnership with the Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation, in the name of and in honor and memory of, Chun Lan “Spring Blossom” Ng Woo, 1918-2008, an immigrant woman from China who lived her life with integrity, courage, and resilience. 


While the fellowship was inspired by the pressing needs of immigrant women, the criteria for award of the fellowship is broader. The fellowship is available to JD students working with a public interest/service organization and whose work advances the rights of women and/or immigrants; the organization does not need to “specialize” in or solely address issues related to the rights of women and/or immigrants.  Further, an applicant need not work only on projects related to the rights of women and/or immigrants during the term of the fellowship, as long as some of the applicant’s work will help advance such rights.  The extent to which the work advances the rights of women and/or immigrants will be just one factor in awarding the fellowship.  


Completed application packets must be submitted by email to David Tran, ABAW Scholarship Co-Coordinator, at dltran@live.com no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 8, 2022.  Applicants selected for the interview phase of the selection process will be notified on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 for the interview phase.

For more information and to obtain application materials, please contact:

David Tran, ABAW Scholarship Co-Chair, at dltran@live.com


The Asian Bar Association of Washington would like to congratulate all of our scholarship and fellowship recipients for 2021.  Please join us in congratulating:

Takuji Yamashita Scholarship Recipient: Jaclyn Sakamoto

Jaclyn Sakamoto is a 3L at Seattle University School of Law. Last year, during a trying year for the API community across the nation, Jaclyn led the SU Law API community as president of the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association. As president, she provided a space for the entire SU Law community to honor the victims of the Atlanta shooting and allow people to grieve, reflect, and share their thoughts during a schoolwide event. Jaclyn also spearheaded Lunch with Lawyers, an event for API law students to learn about the experiences of local API attorneys. After graduation, Jaclyn intends to remain involved in the API community through the ABAW’s legal clinics, where she has volunteered since her 1L year.  

Sharon A. Sakamoto President’s Scholarship Recipient: Felicia Hebner

Felica Hebner is a 2L at Gonzaga University School of Law and was born and raised in Spokane. Inspired by her Obachan, Felicia has been serving the API community since a young age. This past year, Felicia helped put together and co-emceed Spokane’s first-ever Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Day. Currently, Felicia is working with representatives from the Spokane API community, including the Hifumi En Society and the Spokane Chinese Association, to create two commemorative plaques to showcase the Japanese and Chinese American presence in city, and is also working to put together the first Lunar New Year festival in Spokane since 1933.

ABAWSSF General Scholarship Recipient: Myranda Buiquy

Myranda Buiquy is a 2L at Seattle University School of Law.  Myranda is currently serving as president of the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association at SU Law and externing at API Chaya, a nonprofit organization focused on combatting domestic violence and human trafficking in the API community. Myranda has also been involved in the local Vietnamese community since her youth and is passionate about community education. She currently teaches members of her Vietnamese youth group, Thieu Nhi Thanh The, and during this past presidential election, was heavily involved with VietFactCheck, an organization focused on combatting the spread of misinformation in the Vietnamese community.   

ABAWSSF General Scholarship Recipient: Jamie Hearn

Jamie Hearn is a 3L at Seattle University School of Law. Jamie has been involved in the API community since high school when she served on the board of the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council and regularly volunteered at the local Okinawan Festival. During law school, Jamie has served as vice president of the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association and focused on creating events for API law students to better grasp the intricacies of obtaining a summer position during law school. To that end, Jamie put together an information session on 1L diversity programs and an event to educate API law students on what to expect as a first-year summer associate. 

ABAWSSF General Scholarship Recipient: Christine Nishigaya

Christine Nishigaya is a 3L at Gonzaga University School of Law. Christine is passionate about community engagement and maintaining cultural practices for future generations. Christine is a long-standing member of the Ching Clan Benevolent Society and See Dai Doo Society, which are organizations that promote the Chinese heritage of their respective ancestral villages and support the broader API community through community engagement, scholarship, and culture-based charitable events. Christine also served as a missionary teacher for the Maryknoll Majuro Mission in the Marshall Islands. Christine is currently serving as a student representative to the ABAW and is working to form an API-focused law student organization at GU Law.

Spring Blossom Fellowship Recipient: Michelle Browne

Michelle Browne is a 3L at the University of Washington School of Law.  She is interested in public interest, and specifically immigration, after working in the public interest sector for several years. Before her experience at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies this past summer, Michelle directly assisted clients as an Asylum Project Coordinator at the National Immigrant Justice Center and as an intern at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Last year, Michelle also participated in UW Law’s Immigration Clinic and the Adelante Pro Bono Project.

Here are a few words from Michelle:

As the recipient of the 2021 ABAW Spring Blossom Fellowship, I wanted to thank the Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation (“ABAWSSF”) for supporting law students committed to advancing the legal rights of women and immigrants. This summer, I was a legal intern at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (“CGRS”), a non-profit organization serving women, children and other refugees fleeing gender-based violence and life-threatening harms. 

Refugees and people seeking asylum come to the U.S. in search of safety from persecution, torture and sometimes death. But upon their arrival, they face new challenges, including navigating complex U.S. immigration laws and battling restrictive policies and practices. Through coordinated litigation and advocacy efforts, CGRS is working to improve the U.S. asylum system and expand protections for those escaping persecution. 

As a legal intern, I researched and analyzed complex issues of law impacting asylum eligibility and monitored outcomes of U.S. asylum cases to identify decision-making trends and develop a litigation strategy for individual, high impact asylum cases. One such case involved an Eritrean asylum seeker who had been forced to work as a prison guard by the Eritrean government under threat of execution. Although he himself had been a victim of persecution, he was denied immigration relief and threatened with deportation to a country where he faces death or serious bodily harm as a consequence of his military desertion. 

CGRS filed an amicus brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the court to reconsider the petitioner’s case and to recognize duress as a defense to the “persecutor bar.” In support of its position, CGRS cited to case law and social science research that recognize consent as tantamount to the accountability analysis. Child soldiers are but one example of a vulnerable population to which the “persecutor bar” has been historically misapplied, and CGRS is hoping to change this practice with ongoing litigation and advocacy efforts in this case. 

In fact, CGRS has been instrumental in changing substantive asylum law and government policies and practices since its groundbreaking 1999 legal victory in Matter of Kasinga. In Matter of Kasinga, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws, recognized women subjected to female genital mutilation as members of a “particular social group.” This groundbreaking decision helped to open the door to asylum for women subjected to a variety of harms, including domestic violence and forced marriage. 

This summer, I was also able to attend an immigration court hearing for a mother fleeing gender - based violence and hoping to rebuild a life for herself and her children in the U.S. As a parent myself, I am keenly aware of the lengths a parent will go to protect their child from harm, and yet the barriers immigrant families face in accessing protection in the U.S. seem insurmountable. I am so grateful I was able to witness this brave and courageous family win asylum, and I am even more grateful to have spent my summer working in support of women’s and immigrants’ rights in the company of such incredible legal advocates. My experience interning at CGRS has not only encouraged me to continue fighting for a just and welcoming immigration system, it has also prepared be a dedicated and compassionate public interest attorney.   

- Michelle


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