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Walla Walla, WA
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Beyond the Familiar

April 27, 2023

A Story of Identity and Unity

Kudzai Mhondiwa

Born in Los Angeles, California, and raised Filipino, Aaron Nakamura has a passion for bringing people closer together. What began as an idea has now become a purpose. 

His story expresses what makes us unique and explores finding our identity within our own community. Nakamura described, “I grew up in a community where I was part of the majority; I wasn’t aware of things like my skin color or how I [was] different until I left that community.” [1] 

Nakamura’s move from California echoes in his fond memories of being “raised in the culture[s] of Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Taiwanese – it was just a mix of Asian cultures that made up the community I grew up in.” [2] 

While moving to the great plains of the Pacific Northwest would be a challenge for many, Nakamura saw it as an opportunity to propel his early professional career by working in an administrative role at Milo Adventist Academy while simultaneously enrolled in a master's program in communications and languages at the University of Southern California.  

Soon after graduating from USC, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2019, he began his position as the Director of Marketing and University Relations at Walla Walla University. 

After committing almost 4 years to the University, Nakamura has witnessed the steady development of Asian Pacific Islander representation and other minority groups on campus. 

He said, “Diversity has increased here on campus and looking back 10 years ago, there’s a greater diversity in student-led clubs [and] churches. [S]eeing the growth speaks greater volumes.” [3] 

Nakamura continues his mission in promoting and inviting diversity to WWU, serving as the sponsor of the Asian Pacific Islander Club and a member of the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. WWU and Nakamura aim to create awareness and celebration for the Asian community on campus.  

6.2% of WWU students identify as Asian, amounting to just over 76 students of the 1,240 actively enrolled students. [4] The relatively low number of Asian students at the University reflects the Asian population within the U.S., which is considerably lower than other ethnic groups in America. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reported a total of “20.6 million Asians alone living in the United States, accounting for 6.2% of the total population in 2020.” [5]  

Nakamura is currently a doctoral candidate at Liberty University, pursuing a doctorate in strategic leadership. His passion for both students and marketing has led him to take on various leadership positions with the purpose of bringing people closer together.  

He said, "It is important to listen for those similarities and differences of our cultures.” [6] 

It is worth noting Nakamura’s vision of seeing not only the indifferences but also the differences that draw us closer together.  

Nakamura’s story stands as a testament to the Asian community’s active presence in transforming human connections through organizational changes in culture and diversity.  



  1. Interview with Aaron Nakamura, 4/20/2023.  
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Interview with Walla Walla University Office of Admissions, 4/20/2023. 
  5. Monte, M. Lindsay, & Shin, B. Hyon. (2022, May 25). 20.6 million people in the U.S. identify as Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.  
  6. Interview with Aaron Nakamura, 4/20/2023. 
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