Emmy Sakakibara

Rider Profile
HometownNagoya, Japan
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
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Hello! My name is Emmy Sakakibara. I am half American, half Japanese. I was born and raised in Nagoya Japan for the most of my life, but attended high school in the small town of Ottawa Illinois. After high school I decided to go back to Japan to study biology at Nagoya University. Thanks to an exchange program between my school and the University of Illinois, I am back in Illinois for a year studying abroad! Until now, my curriculum was heavily science based so this year I am enjoying taking psychology and sociology, as well as some integrative biology courses. These are all to help me prepare for the MCAT in the spring of 2015 and eventually medical school in the United States.   I grew up with three sisters. Hanna, Rae and I are triplets (I'm the middle child) and Maya is two years younger. Maya is also here at U of I as a sophomore. Growing up I was very involved in sports and enjoyed running, playing basketball and tennis. In the winters I skied and snowboarded in the mountains of Nagano. I am blessed to have two very loving and adventurous parents (Erin and Yusaku) who would take my family on vacations all over Asia. Travel is a big part of my life and I’m looking forward to exploring more of Europe. In my free time I like practicing yoga, baking, cuddling with my toy poodle puppies Oscar and Ginger, and of course cycling! I am very excited to spend my summer traveling across the country on two wheels with the Illini 4000's mission of spreading hope and awareness of cancer, on my back.

Personal Statement

While in middle school, I supported my best friend through the long, devastating fight that her mother fought against stomach cancer. In the end, cancer won. Though it was heartbreaking enough to know your 15 year old friend had lost her mother, it was especially difficult because she had already lost her father to cancer just several years earlier. This was the first time I truly felt the treachery of cancer. Since then I’ve seen many friends and family friends battle their own experiences with cancer…with some good outcomes, but most have ended in loss. Just recently I had my own personal scare when I learned my grandfather was diagnosed with skin cancer. Fortunately it was removed and treated before metastasizing. Through my studies thus far I’ve learned about the pathology of cancer, realizing that anyone is susceptible and it varies in severity and form from victim to victim. Sadly, it is a natural phenomena that everyone will encounter, whether it be directly or indirectly. Because its vast reach, I believe it is important to be involved in the fight to understand more in order to find permanent treatments and preventions. I think it is also crucial to support and care for those that have survived cancer, as well as spread hope to those in midst of their battle. The ride will be challenging but nothing like the challenges felt by patients and families dealing with cancer. I’m looking forward to the challenge but mostly looking forward to meeting people along the way that are surviving and thriving despite their diagnosis. I believe I can use this inspiration to continue spreading awareness and hope for better outcomes throughout my life and future career.