The 2021-2022 Shinnyo Fellows have begun walking their paths to peace!

August 17, 2021

For the well-being of all involved, this year‚ Shinnyo Fellows Orientation was held virtually again on July 29. It is heartbreaking that the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting many lives all around the world even after the vaccines became available to many of us in the U.S. This year, however, thanks to the virtual nature, Kelley Sheahan (the 2020-2021 Shinnyo Fellow from UC, Berkeley) was able to join us from San Diego. During her Shinnyo Fellowship, Kelley used her love of origami-making to help deepen reflection with Berkeley High School students. At the Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation, she demonstrated one of the reflective origami activities. After walking all of us through the steps to fold a flat paper into a 3-D square box, Kelley used a slide to share with us the concept of the “Window of Tolerance.”

Kelley explained that, during the prolonged pandemic isolation and restrictions, anyone could experience numbness, withdrawal, or depression which was categorized as “Hypo-arousal” state. On the other hand, she said that others might experience high energy, anxiety, or hypervigilance to be in the “Hyper-arousal” state. Kelley continued that knowing these three broad phases will help us gauge what we are experiencing at a time and be mindful about what’s just right (i.e., “Window of Tolerance”) for each of us. Kelley then asked all of us to identify the four areas of wellness; stillness, connection, movement, and nourishment, and write what came to our mind for the aforementioned four areas on one side of the box each. A few of us realized that one activity, such as baking or gardening, could encompass all four areas of wellness while others identified a few different activities each for one of the four areas.

The Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation is an opportunity for all of the new Shinnyo Fellows to meet at once as a cohort, and start their relationship building with other Shinnyo Fellows. At the same time, the Fellows would meet other supervisors or mentors with whom their cohort Fellows will be working throughout their fellowship. In addition, it is also an opportunity for the new Fellows to learn about each other through a couple of reflective activities, such as the origami activity that Kelley facilitated. At the last couple of Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation, Juaquin Sims (Program Director, Cardinal Careers of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University) has been sharing the tips, suggestions, and guidance to assist the new Fellows in making a healthy transition to young professionals during our Orientation. Of the tips that Juaquin mentioned, one of the supervisors mentioned that the “Imposter Syndrome” resonated well with her as she also recognized that the Shinnyo Fellows are usually highly aspired individuals. The “Imposter Syndrome” is a psychological phenomenon or state, in which an individual might doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments, even after the successful attainment of a college degree, and be afraid of failure or limit their opportunity to try new things.

Dr. Julye Bidmead (Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, and Director or the Center for Undergraduate Excellence at Chapman University) facilitated another reflective activity called, “Mapping Your Paths.” Dr. Bidmead encouraged all Fellows to reflect on a time when they felt peaceful or felt that they were contributing to peace and where they are now, and suggested them to envision themselves contributing to the peace in the future. In approximately 50 minutes, all Shinnyo Fellows draw or wrote their paths in any way they felt comfortable. A couple of the Fellows draw a tree to summarize their paths while others took more free style drawing and writing. After sharing their past and present experiences, and future aspirations with other Fellows in their own breakout room, they shared their “mapping” of their paths with all others at the Orientation.

As the Shinnyo Fellows’ Orientation approached towards the end, Dr. Jorge Ruiz de Velasco (Deputy Director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University) presented a gift of the reading list, which he titled “Inspiration on the Path to Peace” to the new Shinnyo Fellows. Dr. Ruiz de Velasco compiled this list with the contributions from the 2020-2021 Shinnyo Fellows and a few of their supervisors after meeting with them in the last group reflection in May. In the meeting, Dr. Ruiz de Velasco invited all of them to share a book that resonated with them and to describe the reasons why they wanted to suggest their book to the new Fellows. The books ranged from the one which addresses authentic leadership led by one’s heart to another that describes the Native American’s wisdom. A few of the Orientation participants suggested that making a recommended book list should be continued as a new tradition of the Shinnyo Fellowship Program, considering this as a message and aspiration from one outgoing cohort to a new cohort of Shinnyo Fellows.

Below, we are excited to announce our 2021-2022 Shinnyo Fellows! Please read on to learn how they have begun their paths to peace and how they plan to continue walking on their paths.


Shun Kato

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Shun Kato is a recent graduate from Chapman University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Health Sciences. Throughout his time at Chapman, Shun was able to establish and found the Be KYnd To Your Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization created in honor of his childhood best friend, Kyle Taylor, who passed away from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). His team is devoted to providing medical services such as heart screenings and spreading awareness about SCA in their local Orange County community with the hopes that one less family, friend or loved one will have to lose their Kyle. Aside from this, Shun has had the great privilege of serving as the Biochemistry department’s peer advisor, supplemental instructor for Organic Chemistry lab, and president of the Nikkei (Japanese American) Student Union from which he learned the gratification of providing mentorship to others and create a welcoming environment where all people feel welcome. As someone who aspires to become a Pediatric Cardiologist and devote his life to service, these experiences taught Shun the ability to listen and engage with his community and respond effectively to their problems. During his time as a Shinnyo Fellow, Shun plans to work with a local organization called Higher Ground Youth and Family Services, which provides mentorship and empowerment to at-risk, underserved youth in Orange County. Shun seeks to connect his passions for learning with providing guidance to future generations who will one day become leaders in their communities.


Kate Strezishar

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

After graduating high school in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, Kate decided to attend George Mason University. Kate started out studying at the Schar School of Policy and Government, realizing after an introductory conflict course that the field of CAR was where her passion came to life. Kate’s concentration in Global Engagement came in handy when going abroad for two terms, one to Santiago, Chile to take a course on Latin American history told through its revolutions, and to Budapest, Hungary where she worked with an NGO while studying concepts such as Nationalism and Minority Rights. Kate graduated from GMU in Spring of 2021 and is hoping to further cultivate her interests in diplomacy and international security. Through living in El Salvador for four years as a child with parents working at the U.S. Embassy, Kate saw the importance of globalization and service to others. Kate hopes to take the personal experiences of living in other countries and use it with her studies of peacebuilding to help promote international security and nonviolent intervention.


Sabrina Alex

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Sabrina Alex recently graduated cum laude from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs and a minor in Social Welfare. Her concentrations focused on social welfare policy and the nonprofit sector. Informed by her experiences as a survivor and the daughter of a refugee, Sabrina believes every person has dignity and worth and is the expert in their own experience. This conviction led Sabrina to pursue direct service by engaging with families who experience housing insecurity as well as tutoring immigrant and refugee children. She strives to balance her direct service with macro work. Sabrina spent four years as a member of SU’s Relay for Life Planning Committee, where she supported cancer research, programs, and policy initiatives through fundraising, advocacy work, and events. Sabrina has also engaged in lobby visits to promote equitable policies. Her efforts are informed by her academic research on issues that affect youth and can contribute to their vulnerability or empowerment, from decreasing the achievement gap to child homelessness to promoting civic engagement. As a Shinnyo Fellow, Sabrina hopes to pursue a culture of advocacy at Seattle University and work with an organization addressing adverse childhood experiences. She hopes to extend the mission reach of an organization to create an environment that promotes transformation, healing, and peace. By interrupting cycles of exploitation and creating opportunities for people to live a fulfilling life, she hopes to that everyone deserves to live a life that represents their inherent dignity.

Nick Andino

(Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Nick Andino is a rising senior at Seattle University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with Departmental honors and a social welfare minor. From a young age, Nick has been passionate and invested in social justice, working with communities of color, community building, and activism. At Seattle University, he has worked as a Residential Assistant working with first-year students and helping support and acclimate them to their new school. As well as this, Nick has worked as an Office Assistant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs whose focus is to advocate and support our marginalized communities on campus, while serving as a Sociology student representative advocating for the implementation of anti-racist practices being instilled throughout our colleges. Being from a diverse city like San Francisco and being multiracial himself, Nick felt as if social justice was a topic that he simply could not ignore given all of the impacts he has seen throughout his own experience. As a Shinnyo Fellow, Nick hopes to provide advocacy and community-organizing work in his future endeavor!

The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at STANFORD UNIVERSITY and Redwood City Together

Avery Elizabeth Muniz

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Avery Muniz is a recent graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Biology and a concentration in Neurobiology. She is passionate about both educational and health equity and hopes to devote her life to tackling these issues. She has worked as a Spanish Interpreter at a free clinic, as a companion to patients in hospice/palliative care, as an English literacy tutor for kids in low-income areas, and as an Education Partnerships Fellow for Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service. In this capacity, she expanded the accessibility of a literacy program for Spanish-speaking families and organized a guest speaker event with a former politician to foster dialogue on campus about issues in educational equity. Avery has conducted research in the field of virology and co-authored a paper published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. She also served as a director of a shelter for unhoused women in Palo Alto, as a community RA at Stanford, and as a Case Investigator with the public health department in Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is passionate about community outreach and hopes to use this fellowship to refine her skills as a leader and advocate for communities. She is very excited for the opportunity to serve the Redwood City and North Fair Oaks community as a Shinnyo Community Impact Fellow.


Lesly Ardon-Lara

(Post-Undergraduate Shinnyo Fellow)

Lesly Ardon-Lara (She/Her) is a recent graduate from UC Berkeley where she obtained a B.A. in Sociology and Legal Studies and minored in English. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Lesly grew up with an appreciation of knowledge gained both at home and in school and developed an understanding of the importance of education. As an undergraduate at Cal, this understanding led her to work with organizations addressing the educational opportunity gap impacting low-income communities of color, including The Education Trust-West and UC Berkeley’s BUILD reading mentoring program. Now, she hopes to continue addressing these educational disparities in her work with Shinnyo-en Foundation as the newest Shinnyo/2020 Vision College Access Fellow.