Mackenzie Hirai was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. There, she was raised and grew up. After graduating from East High School in 2012 she went on to attend the University of Utah and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2017 with an emphasis on criminology and diversity. While attending school Mackenzie was involved with several volunteer organizations including the Reach for Your Dreams Program and the service organization called Youthlinc.
Mackenzie is currently in the process of taking the entrance exams for law school and aspires to practice civil rights law as a career. Kenzie is most passionate about being involved in the JACL as well as other communities, music, and spending time with friends and family.
Elle Kurata was raised in Colorado Springs and went to college at the University of California, Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, she studied religious studies where her course work brought her to work with Tibetan refugee communities. She also held staff writer and editor positions on a variety of publications including the Daily Californian.
After graduating in 2016, Elle moved to Japan in order to teach English with the JET Programme at a public high school in Omura, Nagasaki. She is excited to return to the United States and work with the JACL.
The JACL Fellowships are underwritten through the generosity of UPS and Ford. All travel for the 2017-2018 Fellows is provided by Southwest Airlines, the official airline of JACL.