Partner With Us!
Mitsuko Funakoshi, a Japanese American, grew up in the city of Norwalk. While attending Fullerton College in the 1940s, she worked hard as a student, earning mostly A’s and B’s in her classes. She had dreams of becoming an art teacher and had hoped to pursue this goal after graduating—but fate intervened, forcing her to push those dreams aside.
Under Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, the U.S. government called for the forced relocation and imprisonment of all Japanese Americans, including Funakoshi, from the West Coast. With just a month until her graduation from Fullerton College in 1942, she had to flee Southern California quickly or face internment.
Funakoshi's family moved to Colorado to live with family friends on a farm. While in Colorado, Funakoshi tried to finish her schooling by writing to Fullerton College. In response, her college advisor sent her an open-book test for credit toward her degree. However, the textbooks she needed had been left behind in California, making it impossible for her earn her college degree at that time.
Years passed and Funakoshi eventually returned to Southern California, married Fred Funakoshi, had children, and worked as an executive secretary in Los Angeles City Controller Rick Tuttle’s office. In 2010, Fullerton College awarded both Funakoshi and her childhood friend, Stella Asawa Yano, honorary Associate degrees as part of the California Nisei College Diploma Project. Funakoshi is retired and currently resides in Oceanside, California.
"If this hadn't happened, you know, I probably would have gotten my degree and
done something else with my life. But these things have happened and I've gotten stronger. You've got to keep going. You can't be bitter about things. "
— Mitsuko Funakoshi
Honorary A.A., Fullerton College, 2010