Our CAPAL  Scholar Spotlight is Kota Mizutani, an incoming junior studying political science and ethnic studies at Brown University. This summer Kota is a CAPAL Public Service Scholar interning at the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI).

What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects?

Because I am assigned to the executive team, I primarily assist WHIAAPI Director Kiran Ahuja and Deputy Director Jason Tengco.  My assignments for the executive team are diverse. They cover speech-writing to policy-memo drafting to attending meetings with senior department officials.

In addition to assisting the executive team, I am also given opportunities with other portfolios, such as blog drafting for the communications team.

How does this internship/scholarship fit with your professional and career goals?

So far, my primary career interests have revolved around government work or AAPI community advocacy.  Thus, WHIAAPI is a perfect fit because it functions as a community outreach and advocacy entity for the AAPI community within the government.

What do you hope to achieve this summer through your scholarship/internship experience?

As I rapidly (far too rapidly) approach college graduation with plans to work in DC before post-secondary education, I am hoping to determine how I can best channel my interest in AAPI issues through a variety of jobs.

Through networking and internship assignments this summer, I hope to diversify the policy issues which I have experienced and increase my skill set.

What does public service mean to you?

For me, public service has always meant giving back to a community that helped raise you.  Whether it be representing my home state/district or advocating for the AAPI community, public service is a way for people to continue providing and improving the wide array of benefits that they enjoyed or enjoy.

What do you consider to be the most interesting thing about you?

I once had the honor of explaining “spam-musubi” to former Congressman Henry Waxman in an elevator.  For those of you who do not know, spam musubi is essentially Hawaiian spam sushi.  He didn’t eat it, but – believe me – it’s good.

What are you most excited to do in Washington D.C. this summer?

I am incredibly excited to see old friends, make new friends, and bike around the monuments at midnight.

My name is Kota Mizutani! I am currently a rising junior studying political science and ethnic studies at Brown University. Born to Japanese-natives and raised in Northern California, I strongly identify as both Japanese and American. My first exposure to the broader AAPI community was through the local Japanese taiko drumming group I joined at the age of 6. After learning about the Japanese American redress movement when I was 14, I became inspired to join the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and now serve as the JACL East Coast District Youth Representative. In addition to leadership positions in AAPI student groups at Brown University, I have interned at the Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights Education and Congressman Jared Huffman’s office in Washington D.C. In my spare time, I enjoy playing taiko, producing electronic music, and practicing jazz saxophone.

Meet all of our 2015 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.

IMG 7976 108x150 CAPAL Scholar Spotlight Kota Mizutani 15Posted by Taylor Huang-Boutelle

Taylor is an incoming Senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is double majoring in World Literature and Feminist Studies, with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Social Change. Taylor is in the D.C. cohort for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment ( and is currently a summer interns at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, where she is focusing on development and fundraising, and will be developing the blog content for this summer. Taylor is passionate about issues of representation, coalition between underserved communities, and creating spaces for strength and solidarity around injustices through community activism and public policy. taylor.boutelle [at] capal [dot] org