The 2021 Nitta Scholarship has been awarded to Katie Ikemoto, who helped lead Orange County Buddhist Church through the lack of in-person events by designing videos on Mother’s Day and by creating a virtual “Obon at Home.”
Katie helped her teenage peers design, script, and advertise a series of 22 videos posted on YouTube and Zoom to keep the Sangha connected with the essence of Obon. Containing everything from food to games to Obon odori, this virtual festival was viewed by more than 25,000 people.
Perhaps Katie’s most striking quality is her passion for life in the face of adversity and her use of Buddhism to negotiate life’s rocky road. The COVID-19 pandemic affected all of us, but hit Katie and the Ikemoto family especially hard, claiming the life of her father, Klete Ikemoto.
A 2019 Southern District YBA conference represented a turning point in her understanding of the Dharma.
“The part of the conference that stuck with me the most was our closing service,” she said. “(CBE Youth Director) Koichi Mizushima read, ‘In silently contemplating the transient nature of human existence, nothing is more fragile and fleeting in this world than the life of man.’ I left the conference in awe of the wisdom of such