Akira Olivia Kumamoto is a first year graduate student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism (’17). She is currently an art and culture reporter, writer, and videographer for Oakland North and Insight: News from North Gate. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of California, Davis in June 2015 with a degree in English. Akira was awarded the Lois Ann Lattin Rosenberg Outstanding Graduating Senior Award by UC Davis for her work on both a critical and a creative senior honors thesis; she was also awarded the Dean’s Merit Fellowship from UC Berkeley’s J-School.
Akira is the former Arts Editor at UC Davis’s newspaper, The California Aggie, as well as a monthly columnist to The Aggie’s offshoot magazine, The Centennial. She presented her column via a TEDxUCDavis talk in April 2015; the talk was called “Talking to Strangers” and will be published online on the TEDx forum in 2016.
On the side, Akira is a poet and has received multiple poetry honors including first prize in the 2015 Pamela Maus Contest in Creative Writing. She was a finalist in the 2015 Ina Coolbrith Poetry Competition. Her other hobbies include long distance running, reading, baking all the recipes she can get her hands on, performing vocal jazz and a cappella, photography, and petting every dog.
Akira is a Japanese, Mexican, and German American mix and she believes her unique multiracial background gives her fresh perspectives on journalism. She is a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).