Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/1832/

Message for Young People

For all the young people out there that are considering law or are considering becoming a judge, I say go for it. Go for it, because it's one of the best educations and careers that you could ever have.

I mean, like I said, I was going to be an interpreter, but I became a lawyer instead. And the voice I was able to provide and the representation I was able to provide to help people in need. And also as a judge, to be able to do the things that I've been able to do to help people.

It's a great feeling to be able to serve others because, you know, in one of my favorite photos I have of my children and I think it says something like “In 100 years, it doesn't matter how much was in your bank account, what kind of car you drove, but you're - the world may be different because you made the difference in the life of a child.”

And you can make a difference in the life of yourself, the people around you as well as their children, and make the world a better place through the law. So go for it.

And in terms of going for it, don't think that you have to follow a certain career path. What matters is that you do your best in whatever it is that you're doing. But I encourage young people to pursue a career in law. I am so glad I did.

And, you know, two of my children are pursuing careers in law. So, you know that that's kind of cool too.


careers law youth

Date: July 14, 2022

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Lana Kobayashi

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

Interviewee Bio

Sabrina Shizue McKenna was born on October 7, 1957, in Tokyo, Japan, to a Japanese mother and an American father. Being half-Japanese, McKenna struggled with feeling either “too Japanese” or “too white.” Justice McKenna’s life was drastically impacted in 1972, when Title IX was passed. Title IX allowed McKenna to receive a scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii and play basketball. During her time at the university, she came to terms with her sexuality.

McKenna believes her sexual orientation might have altered her career path. After graduating from law school and working for law firms, McKenna became a law professor. Instead of running for government office, she became a judge. However, McKenna’s path to becoming a judge was not a smooth one. It wasn’t until 2011 that she was appointed to her current position as the Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii. Justice McKenna's story shows that members of the LGBTQ community can have successful and meaningful lives. (October 2022)

 

*This is one of the main projects completed by The Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) Program intern each summer, which the Japanese American Bar Association and the Japanese American National Museum have co-hosted.

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