Campus and community members celebrate the 'happy' occasion

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Mt. Hood Community College President Debra Derr, left, reacts as Junki and Linda Yoshida reveal their $1 million gift to the Gresham school on Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Excitement is amping up at Mt. Hood Community College as the news of a major school donation spreads throughout campus and the community.

“That is so great,” said freshman Melanie Zaldivar, who plans to study psychology. “Kids who didn’t have certain opportunities may now have them.”

An auditorium filled with about 500 Mt. Hood Community College faculty and staff members oohed and aahed Wednesday morning as Troutdale residents Junki and Linda Yoshida unveiled a $1 million gift to the college.

“We are back to support you guys!” Junki Yoshida declared, throwing a celebratory fist in the air.

The Yoshida’s gift marks the largest individual gift made to the MHCC Foundation in its history. MHCC President Debra Derr introduced the Yoshidas as longtime supporters of East Multnomah County, community colleges and college education.

“This gift is truly a blessing from the Yoshida family,” she said. “They know the importance this institution plays in the economic vitality of our community. This gift shows that they see the college as a great investment in the future of our educational efforts and especially in the success of our students.”

“They are not just amazing friends to me but to the entire institution,” Derr said. “I cannot possibly thank them enough for their generosity."

Derr jokingly told audience members that every one of them should buy a bottle of sauce, referring to the couple's Mr. Yoshida’s Marinade & Cooking Sauces.

MHCC Accounting Manager David Erickson said he was “very excited” about the donation and that the Yoshidas had chosen to throw their support behind the college again.

Outlook Facebook commenters have expressed excitement over the donation, calling it “an awesome day for MHCC.”

Junki Yoshida came to Seattle from Japan 45 years ago against his family’s wishes. His experience with community colleges began at Highline Community College, where he taught karate in exchange for class tuition.

At Highline, Yoshida met his future wife, Linda. “When I was 19, my body was like Bruce Lee’s and girls chased me all over campus,” Yoshida joked.

On a more serious note, Yoshida described how community college had made a profound difference in his life, saying he “always remembers where he came from.”

“MHCC is a community jewel,” Yoshida said. “It’s about providing young people an opportunity, hope and ambition for this world. You are doing that as staff and teachers."

In the past, Junki and Linda Yoshida have served on the MHCC Foundation board of directors, attended fundraisers and sponsored events. They have been honored with the Patron Saint and Community Partnership awards.

Nationally, the Yoshidas have been honored by the American Association of Community Colleges with the Outstanding Alumni Award and named recipients of the 2006 Benefactor Award by the Council for Resource Development.

Keeping with the celebratory announcement Wednesday morning, the audience watched a music video of Pharrell William’s “Happy” interjected with clips of MHCC students and staff dancing.

They danced out of the auditorium in happy spirits to a luncheon and photo op.

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