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Monday, December 22, 2014         

INCIDENTAL LIVES


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Effectual St. Andrew's senior keeps her feet on the ground

By Michael Tsai

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Oh, to be 18 again.

Wait, scratch that.

Oh, to be 18 the way soon-to-be St. Andrew's Priory alumna Sarah Tamashiro embodies the age — intelligent, energetic, idealistic, in possession of an abundance of gifts both inherited and developed.

A classic overachiever disguised in everygirl clothing, the Aiea native is tying a bow this week on a high school career that includes membership in the school choir, a spot on the rocketry team, and three consecutive appearances in the state Science Fair. She's shot a documentary, served as a peace ambassador to the Asian-Pacific Children's Convention in Fukuoka, Japan, even worked with scientists to develop a way to use waste materials as food.

Seriously. Save for some dubious but age-appropriate musical leanings — she digs "Glee" and gravitates toward Journey and George Michael on the karaoke mic — she's the sort of good-natured, high-achieving kid for which most parents even lack the audacity to hope.

"Some people think I'm well-rounded, but if I am it's because I've tried to take advantage of all the opportunities that have been available to me," she says. "Six years ago, I had no idea I'd be building rockets or making a documentary, but those things happened because I took risks. I've had failures along the way, but I try to take them as lessons for how to do the same thing better the next time."

Indeed, Tamashiro's documentary project, done with close friend Nicole Gasmen, grew from Tamashiro's campus job working in the school archives. When she realized the breadth of information at her disposal, Tamashiro set out to tell the school's history via film. The final cut didn't meet her lofty expectations, but she's grateful for the experience.

Likewise, Tamashiro says the work she and Science Fair partner Lindsay Fujimoto did in helping to cultivate a nutritious fungus using rum waste products, while unfinished, was an invaluable experience. Working with University of Hawaii professor Samir Khanal, the girls explored the potential of their fungus as a high-quality fish food and potentially a protein supplement for areas of Southeast Asia.

Tamashiro, who will study art history and film at Fairfield University (Connecticut) this fall, credits the unwavering support she's received from her parents. But she hopes to thank another set of parents as well.

Both Tamashiro and her younger sister are adopted. Now an adult, Tamashiro has the option of making her adoption records public, thereby providing a means for her birth parents to contact her should they wish. She hopes they will.

"On one hand, I think it would help me connect more to my cultural identity," says Tamashiro, who is Chinese, Japanese, Irish and Hawaiian. "But one of the biggest things I'm proud of are the opportunities I've been provided by my adopted family."

———

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@staradvertiser.com.






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