PCC alumnus Esther Takei Nishio and Director Theresa Reed, were among five honored "Women of The Year," by Senator Carol Lui at the Senators residence, for their dedicated efforts and unique story in education.


PCC alumnus Esther Takei Nishio and Director Theresa Reed, were among five honored “Women of The Year,” by Senator Carol Lui last Friday at the Senators residence, for their dedicated efforts and unique story in education.

Nishio, an alumnus of what was known as the Pasadena Junior College was the institution’s first “test case,” an experiment to see how it would react to a Nisei (Japanese-American) student just after WWII had ended in 1945. Nishio previously to that had been a dental assistant and a column writer in a Japanese internment camp in Colorado.

“The idea was to have Esther enrolled at the college to test the reaction to its first Japanese American student after the war,” said Sen. Lui.  

Nishio went on to mention how wonderful the students were and as well as the faculty; the problem was the residents of Pasadena.

It was the student body, and the soldiers, who Nishio says stood behind her, supporting her every step of the way. “No matter what adversity you may have, they are people in this world who will come to your side and try to help you,” said Nishio.

Former PCC President Lisa Sugimoto recalled back in 2010 when the college and herself had given Nishio along with several others, an Honoree Degree, part of Nisei Diploma Program. Sugimoto stated, “We wanted to make sure she got her honoree degree, because she had been a test case”

Theresa Reed is currently Program Director of Foster & Kinship Care Education and Independent Living Programs at PCC. Reed dedicates her life to helping the very same individuals who had been in her shoes as an adolescent, fostered youth. “Theresa Reed is an inspiration, overcoming lots of barriers, and lots of challenges,” said the Senator.

Dir. Reed and the department program have made it easier for foster youth to have better access to the community college and successfully use it.

“Theresa Reed’s wonderful, when [Reed] came to work with our foster youth, I got to work with her directly, and her passion and her heart for young people is just amazing,” said former Pres. Sugimoto.

 When asked after the ceremony what motivates her to do what she does every day, Dir. Reed replied, “It’s knowing that a lot of our young people have potential…and being able to show them that they do have options.”

Dir. Reed’s advice to any one, was to find somebody to talk to, set a plan, “your plan your goal”, and write it down. “It’ll give you something to come back to later and say wow; I checked that off my to-do list,” said Reed.  

 “I want to congratulate these women, you all are very well deserved recipients,” said Sen. Lui, everyone in the room applauded and cheered, they too believed the same.

Recipients of the Women of the Year with Senator Carol Liu (third from left) awarded on March 23, 2012. (Kevin Balmadrid/Courier )

California State Senator Carol Liu presents to Theresa Reed the Women of the Year award on March 23, 2012. Reed is the Director of Independent Living Program at PCC. (Kevin Balmadrid/Courier )

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