The Sunflower Initiative is awarding the Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarships for 2022 to Quinn Katayama-Stall of Portland, Oregon and Alyssa Richardson of Washington, DC. Quinn will attend Scripps College in Claremont, CA and Alyssa will attend Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.
Quinn Katayama-Stall took virtually every AP course (19 of them) available at her high school, along with three years of Japanese. She will graduate from Westview High School in Portland as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist and an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction. While earning a perfect academic record, Quinn was also a championship swimmer (captain of her high school swim team), an activity requiring more than 18 hours per week of pool time and weight-lifting year-round that also takes her to competitions at the district, state, and national levels. She plans to swim for Scripps as well and is likely to pursue a major in chemistry there.
Her teachers and coaches praise her leadership skills and emotional intelligence, noting instances in which she showed an unusual ability to help inspire others to work toward a common goal and to create an atmosphere that inspires others to work harder. Her AP economics teacher says that “her kind, caring personality and her personal drive and initiative to strive for her best make her a natural leader.” Her swim coach has been “consistently impressed with her as an athlete, a team leader, and an overall person …. Despite how common it is for teenagers or athletes to struggle with their emotions, Quinn separated herself from her peers by showing a unique composure that was grounded in self-awareness, logic, and a contagious positivity.”
She is also dedicated to maintaining connections to her Japanese-American heritage, and with her mother is working on biographies of two uncles who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II. She enjoys tutoring younger children several hours a week, and she also works at her community center providing free meals to the needy.
Having found out from her experiences on swim teams how important bonds among women can be in resisting demeaning social pressure, Quinn became very interested in women’s colleges. In her essay, she wrote “I hope to further develop my academic skills in order to contribute more significantly to the communities I am a part of, not my career agenda. I’m confident that I will find inspiration through interactions with faculty who prioritize uplifting women and with peers who share my passion for feminism.”
Alyssa Richardson is graduating as salutatorian of her class from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., a public arts magnet school to which students must apply in order to be considered. Ellington students carry a demanding academic load along with rehearsals and exacting training in the arts. Alyssa’s arts focus is on vocal music as well as dance. She arranges her own music and recordings, performs regularly in the Ellington “Voices in Motion” Show Choir and serves as dance captain for performances with choreography. She has performed in the Kennedy Center, and she serves on the Kennedy Center’s Youth Council to create opportunities in the arts for the local community. Alyssa recently had the honor of singing “America the Beautiful” at the 2022 White House Easter Egg roll https://www.instagram.com/p/CcghkiYAZMj/ and performed in the classical treble voice competition held by the National Association of Teachers of Singing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI5oVk5sMHU.
Alyssa is active in school governance, serving as an at-large representative of the senior class in Ellington’s student government. She is involved in the DC State Board of Education and the DC Public Schools, where she serves as a student advocate, meeting with DC teachers and administrators to design new social studies standards for the curriculum.
In addition to dance and music, Alyssa pursued Honors and AP courses, from AP English literature to AP chemistry and AP biology, because her long-term goal is to become a physician specializing in women’s reproductive health in order to address racial inequities in health outcomes. She volunteered at a pharmacy to assist with immunizations, studied mental health, and became a pre-medicine intern at George Washington University Hospital where she shadowed physicians and won the Community Health Project competition at the end of the program.
Alyssa’s interest in women’s colleges began with her experience in the all-female choir in her first year at Ellington School of the Arts, where she learned that uniquely women-centered support can be found “in an environment where I feel comfortable amplifying my voice.” She writes, “I want to thrive in an academic environment that nurtures my interests and my overall success…. Being surrounded by women who are making change in the world despite societal barriers will inspire me to push forward in the pursuit of my goals.”