Yoshi Matsumoto “I want to work for the environment, clean up the pollution and the ocean. I’m the ‘sweeper’!”

“I graduated high school ten years ago but I didn’t use English at all, so I came here,” says Yoshi Matsumoto who loves science—and laughing. “But also, I was brought up by the ocean. I breathed the ocean air. I listened to the ocean,” she says in mock seriousness of her reasons for coming to SMC. “I need the ocean, so what do you think? I can’t go to Oklahoma to study.” But her real reasons for coming to SMC run quite a bit deeper.

“English is very important to learn to work anywhere. It’s the international language,” she says. “And I have a dream that one day I will work for the United Nations in environmental work. The UN has no nationality, no discrimination. They are all just people working together.”

But discrimination is something Yoshi found all too often while growing up in Japan. “My parents are Korean, and we will never be accepted in Japanese society,” says Yoshi, sadly. “It’s a very discriminatory country. We can’t vote, we can’t join any political movement. And when we are 16, we get our fingerprints made like a criminal. In Japan,” she continues, “I’m not Japanese and in Korea, I’m not Korean anymore. And I don’t ever want to categorize people. So I have to be international.”

Yoshi is loading up on her math and science classes in preparation for a transfer to UCLA or Berkeley. Then it’s on to heal the world. But in the meantime, she is doing a little healing at SMC. “We just started a new club called the Healing Arts Association,” says Yoshi. “Anybody who wants to can come to learn about their skin, their health, their immune system. This is a good kind of knowledge to have.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.