Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2012 Scholar McKenna Asakawa

Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2012 Scholar McKenna Asakawa

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Angelique Diaz.

Scholar Year: 2012
Hometown: Lafayette
College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Colorado College, B.A. in sociology, minor in Spanish

Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?

I’ve been working as the digital content editor for Nelson Treehouse and Supply for about a year now (you might recognize the company from the show Treehouse Masters). It’s a privilege to work at a small family business that has global reach, and to work alongside stunningly creative (and fun!) people. I write copy and manage a lot of our communications, including our blog at I love witnessing the positive impact this company has on many lives: from its own staff, to local businesses, to fans from all over the world. Treehouses make people happy!

What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?

The Boettcher Scholarship has been a liberating force in my life. For one, the Foundation’s generosity gave me the financial freedom to take a leap and move for this job after graduation. I am also deeply grateful for the Foundation’s ethos of exploration – I remember hearing a Boettcher staff member discuss how she was proud of Alumni for doing whatever it is that makes them come alive. This genuine, equal respect for every Scholar’s pursuits— whether that be graduate school or growing a family or building treehouses— encouraged me to try the things that led to what I do now.

Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.

Until recently, I was also working part-time as the development director for Sawhorse Revolution, a Seattle-based nonprofit that hosts year-round carpentry programs for diverse youth. Many Sawhorse programs involve partnering teens with design/build professionals to construct tiny homes for local homeless communities. I also am beginning to volunteer with my local chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. My favorite pastimes include cooking with my boyfriend, Evan; listening to music and podcasts (try The Flop House!); tasting wines in Woodinville (five minutes from my place!); and basking in the summertime Pacific Northwest sunshine (gotta stock up on Vitamin D now!).

What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field?

Some of the best advice I’ve received came from Seanix, one of the Nelson Treehouse carpenters. He said, “Stop taking yourself so seriously, and start taking life and the things you love more seriously.”

If I were to dole out some career advice at my wise age of 23, I’d say: 1) Don’t be afraid to change your plans as you yourself change, 2) Find the humor in it, and 3) The people you work with can make or break your job satisfaction. Don’t underestimate the importance of the organization’s culture and the team you’ll be a part of everyday.

If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?

I’m reading Jacques Pepin’s memoir, The Apprentice, right now, and would love to have dinner with his mother, Jeannette. She was just a few years older than me during WWII in France (during which time she’d bike miles on her one day off a week to scrounge up enough food to feed her three sons!), and holy cow was she a tough person! I’d love to find out more about her sources of strength and time running her own restaurant. Plus, I bet the meal would be delicious!

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