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Minoru Yasui Student Contest: Inspiring Young Leaders


By Jillian Toda-Currie

Jillian Toda-Currie is a Co-Chair of the Minoru Yasui Student Contest Committee, along with Cynthia Basye who has been involved with the contest since its first year in 2018.


Holly Yasui had a vision for the Minoru Yasui Student Contest, which began her passion project. She wanted to bring awareness to youth about her father’s legacy and use the contest as a way to interest students in becoming the next generation of leaders for justice.

Since 2018 the contest has been evolving. We started out as a small essay contest and only took entries from students in Oregon. In 2020 the contest was going to allow students to give poster presentations about current events, but then the pandemic hit and forced us to pivot to a remote format, which we’ve been doing ever since. There was a silver lining in going virtual, though, it allowed us to open up the contest to more students and last year we received submissions from students in more than a dozen states.

We’ve also seen how the student contest can cultivate young leaders. We’ve now had three students who have participated in the contest and then served on our committee to host the contest. Two of these students are outside of Oregon, which was only made possible by these changes over the years.

I’m excited to announce that we’ve had another change to this year’s contest, and we’re going in a direction that Holly had suggested a while ago. We’ve changed from an essay to an art format. This will allow us to reach a new group of students and bring in new perspectives.

The prompt for this year’s contest is around responsibility and asks students, “What is a responsibility you have in your community?” Through visual art, students will express their thoughts about the prompt and tie this back to Min’s legacy of justice.

The contest is open to all middle and high school students. There is a junior division with a top award of $500 and a senior division with a top award of $1,000.

The contest is currently open, and accepting submissions through May 14. If you’d like to learn more about our contest, please visit

We’d really appreciate it if you'd share this with anyone you know who may be interested. Thank you.

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