Through my project, Being, I aim to explore the human experience and challenge our notions of otherness through ordinary ideas, thoughts, beliefs, stories, and philosophies of strangers. I visually present diverse voices through the medium of design.

To do this, I passed out anonymous surveys to collect accounts of individuals' experiences. These surveys contained a list of 45 prompts, including questions such as: “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?” and “How do you deal with anger?” After the surveys were returned, I created an image from each response. The design of the image corresponds with something from the response that I felt defined the character of the respondent. Through presenting these images to the public, I hope that people may discover meaningful connections with total strangers and build a greater sense of empathy. I want people to realize that these stories could very well belong to strangers sitting next to them, or the acquaintances that they see every day but do not know much about. Ultimately we are all human and we have a lot more in common than we think. I believe that by sharing these accounts of the human experience, I can help people become more aware of the connections we inherently hold as humans. Hopefully this understanding will help people find the motivation to treat all others with kindness and respect.

This blog consists of nine images followed by the written responses that served as their inspiration. Passages or phrases that particularly stood out to me are colored light yellow.

Thanks for your interest!

-Masami Chin

Be Critical, Be Outspoken, Value Happiness

1. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
I don’t know the happiest or saddest moments of my life, but I know the general time period under which they fall. I would say the happiest time of my life is right now; I feel comfortable with myself and my life trajectory. Right now I just feel so lucky to be at a good university with great friends and an awesome boyfriend. The saddest time of my life was first semester freshmen year of college; I had a very mean and jealous boyfriend, I did not like my major, I was very sick with bronchitis for months, and I was super stressed (which showed on my skin!)

2. Who was the most important person in your life?  What lessons did that person teach you?
My father, he’s so important to me. He raised me to be confident in my intellectual abilities, my looks (by not mentioning other’s looks very often), and my place in this world. He raised me to be critical and value happiness, and to be outspoken.

3. Who has been the biggest influence in your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
My Father.

4. Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
Again, my dad. He’s so patient and loving!

5. It’s been said that after they pass away the most important people in our lives “live within us.” Is there anyone from your past that lives within you?
That’s really interesting. I’ve never thought about that. My friend in middle school committed suicide and I find him entering my thoughts more than most people from that time period of my life! I think about him often.

6. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
Value life, be kind, be accepting, be opinionated, be practical.

7. What is your earliest memory?
I went to pre-pre-school (like when you’re three years old I think!) in a pretty bad neighborhood. I got locked out at lunch time because I was making “sand pies” for everyone. I turned around and everyone was gone, and the door is this big metal door that has no handle on the outside, so I banged on it for what felt like an hour (probably about 10 minutes). It was so scary! Finally my teacher let me in. I cried until my dad came to pick me up in the afternoon, from what I remember.

8. What are you proudest of in your life?
My academic achievements. Maybe that’s boring…Too bad
9. When in life have you felt most alone?
My first semester at college, I didn’t have any important friends at LMU and I knew absolutely no one in Los Angeles.

10. How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
I thought I would be a film editor, and never saw myself in the medical professions. I didn’t expect to be so happy at college.

11. How would you like to be remembered?
As an old lady who gives people candy!

12. Do you have any regrets?
Oh yes. I regret a lot of things, even though I can’t change them. I regret things from elementary school. I think I have a problem with letting things go. My biggest regret is not breaking up with my high school boyfriend after high school.

13. What does your future hold?
Hopefully happiness!

14. Do you have a love of your life?
I have a boyfriend, whom I love, but we haven’t said “I love you” yet. Oooooh! Juicy!

15. When did you first fall in love?
I first fell in love Christmas of my junior year of high school, with my first “real” boyfriend.

16. Can you tell me about your first kiss?
It was in 5th grade! I kissed my boyfriend at the time—we dated on and off throughout elementary school…So dramatic. The class was leaving for lunch time and myself, my boyfriend, A., and my best friend, P., planned this scheme so that we could kiss. Basically we all got in the back of the line and right when the class left myself and A. kissed once my friend P. gave the “signal.” We then giggled and ran out of the classroom and basically pretended nothing happened. Another boy who liked me found out somehow and told on me, and the school called my parents. My parents just thought it was funny. Isn’t that ridiculous?

17. What was your first serious relationship?
Although it only lasted a month, I would say my relationship with S. was serious—we got together after freshmen year of high school, in the summer. It was the summer I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol and boys. Fun times! Until S. went to rehab four weeks into our “relationship.” We wrote letters back and forth, but now he is a psychopath. I absolutely hate him. He dated one of my best friends and ruined her self-confidence. I was so young, and even though I hate him now, I still care about him for some reason.

18. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Hell no!

19. Do you ever think about previous lovers?
Hell yes! How can one not? I think it helps me handle current “lovers” and give advice to friends.

20. What lessons have you learned from your past relationships?
Never date a jealous person, never date a person with anger issues. Never date a libertarian. Never date a frat boy.

21. Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?
I have no religion, my father is Tibetan Buddhist. My mother is an atheist. I have been to Christian churches and Buddhist temples, and I love/respect both religions’ beliefs, but I don’t affiliate with a religion. I find my religion incredibly interesting though!

22. Have you experienced any miracles?
No! And if I did experience a miracle, I’d probably attribute it to something else, or rationalize it, because I have a hard time believing in miracles.

23. What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
I haven’t had one…maybe I will someday!

24. Do you believe in God?
I don’t believe in God, or gods, or spirits, or ghosts or anything of the sort. I used to “try” to because all of my friends believed in God in elementary school. I even used to pray when I was little before bed, I had no idea what I was doing. It would go something like, “Dear God, please protect me and my family and my dog.”

25. Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
No, I don’t believe in the afterlife.

26. When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?
If I met God, I would be incredibly surprised.

27. What is your ethnic background?
English, Irish, German, Japanese

28. Where is your family from?
My mother is from Tokyo and my father is from St. Louis.

29. Have you ever been there? What was the experience like?
I’ve never been to Japan, but I really do want to visit! I’ve never been to St. Louis…I have little interesting going. It sounds hot and humid!

30. What traditions have been passed down in your family?
I can’t think of any. Maybe opening one present the night before Christmas. But we didn’t do that this year because I went to my boyfriend’s family’s house on Christmas Eve. 
31. Who are your favorite relatives?
My uncle Tom! He’s just like my dad, but younger. So I can treat him like an uncle-y version of my dad. He’s hilarious and so nice!

32. Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?

33. What are the classic family stories? Jokes? Songs?
My dad used to tell me the story of “The Magic Forest,” where little girls could make a wish on a magic tree. There would usually be some moral lesson, I’m sure.

34. Can you talk about any barriers your parents or you have faced in education, housing, health, work, entertainment, shopping or otherwise?
We’ve been pretty lucky. We don’t have very much money and my parents are in debt from the house, but because they both work for the government (public teacher and public defender), we’ve been able to receive health insurance and all necessities. I believe that’s wonderful. We’ve always traveled in the summers, even though it causes some credit card debt. But my dad says it’s too important to travel as a family to worry about bills! “We’ll pay it off later” is his attitude. I assume it’s working. 

35. Do you know where your family came from? If yes, what do you know about that history?
My mother’s family were all Japanese peasants and farmers until my grandmother got a job as a secretary during World War II and married an American (my grandfather). My father’s family have all been rich doctors. My great-great-great-etc uncles/grandfathers were the first psychiatrists and child psychiatrists west of the Mississippi. My great-great-great-great-great (I think five greats?) uncle was William Clark (from Lewis and Clark!) One of my family members died on the Titanic and left us a summer house in Maine where we go every year. He was the vice president of the grand trunk railroad. We’re also related to George Bush :(

38. Do you have any stories about the city you live in?
I was born/raised in Denver. I love Denver :)

39. What principles or morals do you live by?
Open-mindedness and generosity (that’s what I try to live by at least).

40. What is the toughest decision you have ever made? How did you make it?
The hardest decision I made was changing my major. I went with my gut. It was so scary, to change my entire life path from Filmmaker to Physical Therapist. Film was literally all I knew since I was 12! It was terrifying, even taking an Algebra class for the first time since 10th grade. I had so much catching up to do, and I’m so glad I did it. 

Caged Off

10. How has your life been different from what you’d imagined?

I thought we were going to be together for a lot longer, maybe even forever. I’m still not quite sure why we broke up. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% sure. He told me that he can’t be in a relationship with someone who is not at LMU, and since I was going to graduate in three months (even if I was still in LA), our relationship would have to end. He said he still loved me, but it just wouldn’t work. I asked him why he stayed so long if he knew it wasn’t going to work out. He said he used to think that we would last, or at least try, after I graduated but now he changed his mind. And he kept emphasizing that he still loved me, a lot.

This didn’t make sense, because it seems to me that people who really love each other try to make it work until it doesn’t. We don’t give up just because it might not work out in the end.

So then I thought maybe he was scared. Maybe he was scared of trying to work at a relationship where we would sometimes be separated by space larger than a college campus. I thought maybe he didn’t want to try and fail, so he just cut it off while he was still in control. I proposed this to him, and he said no. I don’t know why I even asked this, because even if it were true, he would not be the type to admit it. He insisted that it was because I wasn’t going to be at LMU anymore, but he made sure to mention he still loved me. Since I still was not satisfied with this reason, I also asked if it was because he wanted to be a carefree single college senior, one of the guys, and not have to worry about a girlfriend. He said no to this too. Despite my many attempts to try to find a sensible reason for our breakup, he stuck with: we are breaking up because we will not both be at LMU…but he still loved me. I still don’t get it.

A few weeks have passed since it ended and I’m starting to feel okay again. I don’t cry every time I think about him. Still, I just wish I could know why it ended. Without a clear answer, I am left to make up one for myself. 

After a ton of brainstorming, I have decided to go with: he doesn’t love as much as he used to and maybe he only said that he loved me to try to make the breakup easier for both of us. Evidence for this hypothesis is in the fact that when you are really in love, even when the situation gives you obstacles, you still want to make it work. When you are really in love, you want to spend as much time as possible with the other, even when we see a bump down the road. Even with real love, sometimes the situation wins, but not without a fight. I do believe that he might have still loved me, but just not enough.

When pondering why his love faded I came up with a few ideas. I know that I can be emotionally needy, so maybe he was getting tired of being my main support. Maybe I was relying on him too much. Or maybe I was becoming too controlling. Or maybe my condescending tone of voice was coming out too often. Or maybe it wasn’t me at all and the honeymoon phase excitement was just wearing off and he realized he didn’t really love me as much as he thought. I wish he had told me. It would give me closure, and thus make the moving on bit a lot easier. It would also make me a better person, because I would have something to work on.

But then again—if my hypothesis is right and his love faded—probably even he would not be able to say why, because his emotions were so caged off from the rest of his being. When we were together I thought that his lack of emotional expression balanced our relationship and showed that petty things didn’t bother him. I thought that we were perfect for each other because I was always too sensitive, but he could ground me. This turned out to be false. I found out that he is actually a stuffer, and the reason he doesn’t show much emotion is because he stuffs them away—never really confronting them. I don’t think he ever truly lets himself truly experience the emotions he doesn’t like; he is always on guard against them. Whenever they approach, he pushes them away. For the entire length of our relationship, he never really got angry or enraged. He never really got sad (or let the sadness permeate). He was great at pretending that everything was fine. In fact, he was able to pretend everything was fine and that our relationship was going well up until the moment he broke up with me. 

Despite some current angriness and a tad bit of betrayal (that I’m starting to wonder if I will ever overcome), I still love him and I always will. I don’t believe that it is possible to fall out of love, because even if the person changes, we will still love the old version that exists in our memories. I am thankful for memories of him and all the moments we shared when we were stupendously in love. I know that it is a blessing to have experienced such deep feelings for another; and I know that I will eventually find those feelings again with someone else. 

I made the realization about a year ago that at this point in my life, with any guy I date, we are either going to break up or be together forever. I guess with this relationship, we broke up. But I’m okay with that because I also realized that we are going to break up until one time we just don’t. So this breakup brings me closer to that one time when we stay together forever. I can’t wait for that time. 


3. Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
My father has definitely had one of the biggest impacts on my life. His patience, hard-working, and simply dedicated personality has always touched me. Whenever unfortunate events are happening within our family we always turn to him to hold us together and provide us with the solution. When my mom got diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had little chance/no chance of surviving, my dad never wavered, and gave the support and guidance we were all looking for at the time. He never gave up and never abandoned any of us. I think that was one of the most life-changing moments for me. His outlook on life is another influence he has had on me. He always sees the best in people as well as in life. His favorite phrase is “Always try your best” which I have adopted into my own life as well. In the end, my father is my strength and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.

6. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life, is simply to enjoy the small things in life (and yes, I partly got that from Zombieland). However, it is truly a saying I live by. It’s funny how the little things sometimes set us apart, break us, touch our soul the deepest, or change us entirely. Every moment in life is precious and I simply want to enjoy them all. Someone once told me that humans are one of the only animals on Earth who actually are aware and conscious of time. Sometimes I think that is both a curse and a blessing, for we go through life so fast then. Time is our constant but also our restraint. Always counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds of each and every day. We should learn to stop killing time and to start enjoying it.

8. What are you proudest of in your life?
I think the thing that I am proudest of is simply where I am and the person I have become. Of course there are things I regret, things I wish I could do better, people I wish I could be like, places I want to go, but yet, where I am now is also quite auspicious to me. I am happy as I look back at what I have done with my life and the person I have become due to it. I know in the future I will continue to discover myself and make tons of mistakes, but hopefully I will still retain this feeling of proudness for who I am. 

11. How would you like to be remembered?
I think I would like to be remembered as just someone who lived life to the fullest. I want to enjoy life and help others to enjoy it as well and if I’m remembered for that one thing alone, I think I would be quite content.

13. What does your future hold?
I hope in my future that I can change the world or at least impact the people within it. Even if it is one person at a time, I want to help someone. I want to make them laugh, smile, brighten their day. I want to help change the world and make it a happier, brighter place.

18. Do you believe in love at first sight?
No, I don’t. I feel like in order to truly love someone you need to know them completely: the good and the bad. As cheesy, and movie cliché as it is, I feel like you can only truly love someone once you accept that person for themselves, which can only be done by getting to know them one step at a time. 

20. What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
Probably the most significant lesson I have learned is to simply be yourself. As hard as it can be, you just need to be you. It can be so difficult sometimes, especially when you have pressure from your peers, your family, media and your significant other even, to change and be someone different. But in the end, if you pretend to be someone you’re not, you are really just cheating yourself as well as your significant other of a true relationship anyways. I think another important lesson I have learned is not to be afraid to let someone in. I myself can be quite closed off, especially about certain things. However, if you’re too afraid to let someone in, no one will ever touch your heart. Sometimes, as it has been said before, it’s about taking a leap of faith.

21. Can you tell me about your religious beliefs? What is your religion?
I am Christian.

24. Do you believe in God?
Yes, I do. I always have. Somehow ever since I was young I have always been quite innate and self-assured in this belief, which is quite unusual for some people. It has been one of the most constant things about myself that has never changed and that I can define myself by. It truly is a part of me and impacts how I view the world significantly.

22. Have you experienced any miracles?
Yes, I have. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was only eight years old and was given almost no chance of surviving chemotherapy. At the time, I was so young. All I truly remembered was parents giving me their condolences, my grandparents taking care of us, my father looking sleepless and unkempt, and my mother lying in a hospital bed, with wires and tubes sticking our of her. It was a tough time for us all and the doctors said she would most likely not even see us graduate high school. I guess you could say the miracle was when my mom not only survived, but is now about to watch my older sister graduate college (and hopefully see me graduate LMU in the future as well). I still thank the Lord and fate itself for allowing my mother to still be a part of my life. 

26. When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?
When I meet God, I would definitely simply thank him for giving me such a wonderful and fruitful life. I have had such great experiences thus far and I’m sure I will continue to have numerous more as well. Our mistakes are our own and I would simply express my gratitude to him for continuing to guide me on my path even when I may stray away at times. I am simply thankful for all the people I have met so far, my loving family, the roof over my head, being able to go to college, and so much more and I would definitely want the chance to thank him for everything he has bestowed upon me in this lifetime. 

42. How do you deal with sadness? Anger?
The way I deal with both is definitely internal. I hate showing either emotion, simply because I consider them as private and a more intimate part of myself. I hate bestowing my problems onto others, which is why I usually deal with my anger/sadness by simply going to my room or a quiet place and just taking the time to be alone and get myself together. 

44. What is the most important tangible thing you own?
I would have to say my Beats by Dre headphones. They were something I have wanted for a few years now and when I finally received them I was so happy. I feel like the older you get the less materialistic things you truly desire, which was why these were so important to me. It was the only thing I actually asked for Christmas this year. However, as much as I wanted them, the reason they are the most important thing to me is because they present me with an escape. It’s difficult to be alone, especially here at college, yet when I put on my headphones I can basically do just that. I am able to tone out everything around me and just immerse myself in my music. It’s how I deal with my emotions and simply find my center.


23. What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
I’m not sure if this is the most profound spiritual moment I’ve had, but it is definitely one that has stuck with me. It happened after my grandma passed away the night before her funeral. While I was sleeping, I had a dream and she was in it. I distinctly remember asking her, “Grandma what are you doing here? I thought you were dead...” She told me that she was, but she just wanted to say bye before she left. I was also surprised that she knew who I was because she had suffered from Alzheimer’s and hadn’t recognized me for years. When I woke up that morning, I remember feeling at peace. It turns out 2 of my other cousins had similar dreams that same night. This is when I started to believe that dreams are how the dead can communicate with their loved ones. 

25. Do you believe in the after-life?  What do you think it will be like?
Even though I am Catholic, I have a very different view of the after-life than what the church teaches. While I believe that there is a Heaven, I don’t really believe in Hell. I personally can’t imagine God wanting to punish someone (no matter what their sins are) for the rest of eternity. I believe that God is forgiving and understanding and accepts everyone into his “kingdom” once they pass. I also believe that reincarnation is a possibility in the after-life. I have yet to work that out with my belief in Heaven, like who gets to be reincarnated, etc, but I do believe it is possible. Overall, I am still working out what my beliefs are, and I guess I will never really know; I just know something else has to be out there. 

Where Faith Comes In

21. Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?

I am Roman Catholic,  born and raised, but what guides me ultimately is my faith. Sure religion is very important and I respect the traditions of the church. But what has truly formed who I am is my faith life.  I’ve learned that we can do our best to plan our lives, but the most unexpected moments, both joyful and sorrowful, are the moments that we grow the most from.  We become humbled because we do not always know what God has planned for us.  Thus, that is where faith comes in. My life has been a journey of faith. That faith has had its moments of wavering and moments of growth, but it has always been there.

I am at a place of transition in my life. It is frightening not knowing where life is going to take me after graduation.  I can do my part to plan out my future, but then comes faith.  Right now, my faith enables me to have hope for my future.  I do not know what my future holds for me, but I know that God holds a much bigger plan than I can imagine. Additionally,  I have been asking the important questions of life lately (Who am I? What is my place in this world? How do I lead a good life? ect.) These questions require deep reflection and insight. Although we are capable of becoming close to knowing the answers to the questions, we have to accept that we may never fully answer them. That is where faith comes in. We must have faith that although we don’t know the answer to all these questions, there’s a greater answer out there than we will ever know. We can spend our whole life asking questions and even when we think we know the answers, we might find out those answers will prove to be wrong. We just have to be prepared to accept that we are not going to know the answers to  many of the big questions in life.

My faith is what keeps me strong and keeps me moving forward. I also firmly believe that I must always be moving forward. Living in my past and wishing I could change my past will only hold me back.  Part of envisioning a bright future for myself has  a lot to do with my faith. I have to know that I can’t let the fears of making mistakes keep me from accomplishing all that I want to do. I have to trust that if I stay true to my values and I learn from my mistakes that I will always make it where I am supposed to be.  


Once upon a time I was 4 years old with ribbon bows in my long brown hair. It’s my first day of school. Ever. Pre-school. Our teacher has asked us to line up in pairs as we prepare to go to the assembly. My classmates are lining up at the door and I stand quietly alone and wait. Another girl, about my size, short black hair pushed back in a headband, approaches me and takes my hand. “I’ll be your friend,” she says. I smile and we walk toward the door.

Now I am 6 on Valentine’s Day. Our teacher is teaching us a song: “Will you be my valentine valentine valentine? Will you be my valentine? I love you!” My classmates take turns singing to each other and responding “Yes I’ll be your valentine valentine valentine! Yes I’ll be your valentine, I love you!” Girls sing to one another. Boys sing to boys. Everyone giggles. Then he stands up—the boy who has a crush on me. He turns to me and sings. Mortified, my face glows red. Everyone is laughing and teasing and I burry my head in my arms on my desk. “No!”

I’m still 6. We’re playing jump rope at recess. The mean girl from my Girl Scout troop starts shoving me. She’s bigger than me. I lose my balance. I fall to the concrete face first splitting my bottom lip open. I shriek and cry as I’m taken to the nurse’s office. I stay there for the remainder of the school day, upset and sniffling, as my mom ices my lip.

Suddenly I’m 7 and I live in Texas. I go to a new school where I have no friends and I still wear ribbon bows in my hair. Our school doesn’t have a playground, only a giant field where the students run and play. I’m alone, but I’m not lonely. I’ve discovered the butterflies that flit and flutter along the back fence at the edge of the field. I spend my time catching and releasing butterflies. Studying the different types, picking favorites, cupping them one by one between my palms and then setting them free. I’m a butterfly too.

There is a saying that goes, “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”  These snapshots are a few of my most vivid early memories. From what I can recall, I was silent, but easily made friends. I was remarkably curious and afraid of everything. I was very smart, but never good enough. Giving, but easily taken from. Observant. Stubborn. Full of life. My childhood consisted of forming relationships and losing them. Hurting others and being hurt. Succeeding and failing. Laughing and crying. Life is full of constant motion—forward, backward, and all around motion. Things change, people grow, but there are also things that remain constant. Although I have grown to be more fully myself, I don’t think I am any less child-like (not childish) than I was at 7 years old.

When I think of my childhood, I think of a magical time when everything was uncharted territory and the world full of wonder. Growing older is a disenchanting experience. Adults are supposed to be serious, not whimsical. Being able to see the world as full of life and beauty and awe is a gift and a challenge. I never want to lose this special gift—this eye for constant magic, love, and goodness in the world. 

Rose Up

1. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
When I got into LMU, when my house was foreclosed and we had a week to find some place to live.

2. Who was the most important person in your life?
My dad, he’s struggled with money, a job, and his health and he’s easily the funniest, most positive person I know.

5. It’s been said that after they pass away, the most important people in our lives “live within us.” Is there anyone from your past that lives within you?
My grandpa who passed three years ago. I can still hear his voice and laugh when I’m making big decisions.

7. What is your earliest memory?
Christmas when I was four, my sister cried because she didn’t get a puppy.

11. How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who no matter the struggle, remained positive and smiling.

16. Can you tell me about your first kiss?
Junior year of high school. He was an ass hole.

18. Do you believe in love at first sight?

19. Do you ever think about previous lovers?
Yes a lot.

20. What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
Sometimes two people just aren’t compatible.

21. Can you tell me about your religious/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?

23. What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
When my uncle died, his family and my family were all in the room crying and the minute he died his spirit rose up and it calmed all of us.

24. Do you believe in God?

25. Do you believe in the after-life?

27. What is your ethnic background?


3. Who has been the biggest influence on your life?  What lessons did that person teach you?
My mom has been the biggest influence on my life. Obviously, she has been there since the day I was born. She has taught me everything and shaped who I am.  Most of my moral compass is shaped based on what she emphasized throughout my life. She taught me to always give things a try regardless of the odds. She taught me to stand up for myself, but to remember to feel compassion for others. She taught me to pursue a path of happiness and to never take advantage of people’s kindness.

5. It’s been said that after they pass away, the most important people in our lives “live within us.” Is there anyone from your past that lives within you?
My uncle passed away when I was ten years old. Although I do not have a whole bunch of memories of him because he passed away when I was young, the memories I do have are all extremely warm and fun. He built a canal that ran through my grandma’s rose garden and built a simple wood bridge with a sign that said K.’s bridge. I have memories of him taking me on shopping sprees on my birthday and always just making me laugh. While my other family members tend to be more serious he was full of love and laughter and I feel that spirit sometimes. We share the same curiosity that sometimes proves to be a bit dangerous. We love to live and to take chances. 

6. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
I’ve learned that time is the most valuable thing you can give a person because you can never get it back.  I’ve learned that life can be utterly unfair and the worse things often happen to the best people while the best things happen to the worse people.  I learned that life gains purpose when you live for something beyond yourself. I learned that life is a journey of perfecting and improving one thing at a time. I’ve learned that there are many people who will try to knock you down and it is better to have a few solid people in your corner than a large number of people only there for the sunny days. 

7. What is your earliest memory?
One of my earliest memories is being at my babysitter house when I was two or three and there was a steep driveway. There was a tricycle that had a bench hitched to the back. I agreed to sit on the bench with no driver on the tricycle and was released from the middle of the steep driveway.  This ended disastrously with me crashing in the porch on the bottom of the driveway and I still have a scar next to my eye to remember it.  

10. How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
Lately my life has been much different than what I expected. Before coming to college I planned to pursue a degree that would lead to me a high paying job. Isn’t that the point of college?  To make money? Coming to LMU to a big city and to a college where most kids come from far above average income families has changed my desires for my future. I have observed, and now truly understand the saying that money does not buy happiness.  LMU has also given me the opportunity to be surrounded by some astounding young people who have accomplished and are accomplishing things beyond what I thought capable of people my age. It has helped me to reevaluate what is important and what I want from life. It has also challenged me to push my limits on what I thought I was capable of.  

11. How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as being genuine. I know that everyone will not like me. Although I may seem quiet at first, I am very opinionated and have no problem telling people how I feel if I feel it is necessary. I hope that I am remembered for handling these issues with grace. I hope that I am remembered as someone who contributed to something bigger, someone who looked to help others. I want to be remembered as a person who was happy and lived life fully.   

12. Do you have any regrets?
I only have a couple regrets if any, and that was the anger I showed in the process of my last breakup. Being that it was my first serious relationship and I felt young and extremely vulnerable. I was very volatile. I said and did things out of anger that I am not proud of and I hope to never revisit that side of myself. 

13. What does your future hold?
Absolutely no idea!!! And that’s soo frightening but sooo exciting!!!
18. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely not! Love is so much deeper than anything that can be captured by looking at someone. I believe that there is lust at first sight in which you are extremely physically attracted to someone. I also believe that you can feel chemistry between yourself and someone just by looking at them. Judging the way people act and hold themself can be very telling and sometimes I think you can tell right away whether you and another person will “click.”

20.What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
I’ve learned there is a thin line between love and hate. I learned that the people who bring out the best in you are also capable of bringing out the worst in you. I learned that it is never worth it to lose yourself to anger and that every situation needs to be handled with grace. I learned that you can’t change a person and that the best way to handle a situation is by focusing on what you can do different. I learned that no relationship is perfect and that it is up to you to decide what problems are deal breakers and what problems are ones that you can overlook or even learn to love. I learned that love is not always enough, and that sometimes there are other situational factors that will prevent the relationship from working. I learned that love embraces a person for all that they are and doesn’t try to change them. I learned that you cannot love or give of yourself if you do not love yourself because you will not allow yourself to be vulnerable and instead of giving to another person you will look to constantly protect yourself. I learned that forgiveness sets you free and that there are no bad experiences just hard lessons.    

21. Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?
I am Christian. I am ashamed to admit that I rarely go to church and that it kind of bores me. I believe in God and heaven.  Through the exposure I have received at LMU I believe that my faith is strengthening and lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with God.  

24. Do you believe in God?
Yes! 100%!

25. Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
I believe that we go to heaven. I believe that heaven is perfect and that your soul goes on to live and reunite with those who have passed before you. Although I hate to admit it, I also do believe in hell. If all is forgiven I’m not sure what would cause someone to go to hell? I guess if you didn’t believe in God?

26.When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him?
“Welcome, my child.  I love you. “  And then point me to the relatives and friends that have gone before me!

27. What is your ethnic background?
I am Japanese American.

39. What principles or morals do you live by?
Live today fully and take full advantage of every opportunity that God provides. Never take any person or opportunity for advantage, take time to thank God for the blessings he has provided for you. Never step on someone else in order to succeed.  

42. How do you deal with sadness? Anger?
I do lots of talking. I call my mom, my boyfriend, and my best friends and I vent. I let myself cry or rant. Then when the height of the emotion is settled I spend lots and lots of time thinking.  I think about why the situation is having such an impact on my emotions and how I can deal with the person or situation. I also like to listen to music or go shopping.  


16. Can you tell me about your first kiss? 
His name was John and we were in the first grade. I’m not entirely sure how I fell for him at the age of six but I fell hard man. What I remember about John is that he had a big head of brown curly hair and was completely apathetic about most things, but he did make me laugh. It was during gym period; our class was lined up at the water fountain in the storage room on our drink break. I made sure we were the last two in line and as John finished getting his sip of water I got real close to him and said something along the lines of, “Wanna kiss me?” And we did. It was wet and kind of awkward but I was into it. Clearly, I was a dominant woman who knew what she wanted–even as a first grader. My kisses since then have been fairly exciting…sometimes not so exciting. The great ones have sent fireworks through my chest and made the world feel like it was melting around me. The bad ones confirmed that the great ones are worth waiting for. 

20. What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
You can’t make a person want to be with you. Sometimes you just have to let go and understand that things are not meant to be. Primarily because we are not all brave enough to fall in love. I recently had a discussion with one of my best guy friends in which we agreed we had feelings for each other. I was honest and vulnerable and truthful to the point of no return. The next morning he confessed that he wanted to spend everyday with me over and over again, that he wanted to love me and give me everything in the world, but that he just couldn’t. He suddenly just “didn’t feel it.” Despite the black hole enveloping the place where my heart used to be, I realized that you just can’t make people feel things. I can’t make him love me, I can’t make him face his deepest insecurities, I can’t make him strong, I can’t make him happy. Only we can do that for ourselves.

22. Have you experienced any miracles?
I don’t believe in miracles. I believe the universe conspires in the ways we will and imagine and my place at LMU is a perfect example. Once upon a time I was only interested in the arts and all things creative. I took my SATs and bombed the mathematics section after years of struggling in school with quantitative subjects. All I wanted was to get out of the state I was from and free myself from the desert and family responsibilities, I wanted a new start. What I got was many many rejection letters and one acceptance to my state university. However, I enrolled knowing that I wouldn’t end up there. I have always had these unrealistic, slightly delusional visions for myself and this was no exception. Two weeks before I would move into my new dorm room I received a letter from Loyola Marymount University, admitting me off the waitlist. Thanks to my insane new age thinking aunt I might be considered slightly crazy for believing that I willed myself into this university because I was meant to be here…but I do. I think we create the life we imagine and we engineer our own circumstances, this means that anything can happen. 

36. Do you have any stories about your family’s experience leaving the place you were born?
I left the city I was born in at age three around the same time my mother divorced my biological father due to alcoholism, violent behavior, and his tendency to sleep with other women. When she did so, he relinquished his parental rights. He literally signed a document saying that he didn’t want my brother or me anymore. My mother met a new man and this prompted our move to the city I grew up in. I had a charmed childhood until my mother divorced for the second time and alcoholism claimed the man I had called my father once again. He became apathetic and mean, consumed by depression and substance abuse. He took his own life before I started high school and we immediately picked up and left once again. For me, these cities hold so much darkness and childhood nostalgia I can never decide if I love them or hate them. I wouldn’t consider them my home because I’ve moved around enough times to know that home is where your loved ones are. 

39.What principles or morals do you live by?
All things happen for a reason. 
Nature is where I feel most at peace and connected to the earth. 
Humanity is interconnected. 
The present moment holds the greatest potential for happiness. 
Love is the driving force of living wholeheartedly and fully. 
We understand our purpose in being human when we serve another. 
It takes vulnerability and courage to create something and set it free into the world. 
Solidarity is really just a common life force realized through the act of relating to another. 
Staying true to yourself means trusting your vision and listening to your inner sense of self.