Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: James Yamazaki Interview
Narrator: James Yamazaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Van Nuys, California
Date: February 4, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-yjames-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So you graduated from UCLA, and then what did you want to do next?

JY: Well, I applied to med school, of course. About then I had, thought my chances were good for... not good, but could put in a try for med school.

TI: Well, so out of a class, what percentile would you say you were? Like top ten percent, top twenty percent?

JY: Gosh, I don't know, but I think you have to be somewhere in ten, fifteen percent to get into mad school.

TI: So you were probably that or better, just thinking about med school, you knew your grades were good enough?

JY: No. I always had self-doubts. [Laughs]

TI: You did this for all your older students.

JY: Yeah, I didn't think I was at the top of the heap.

TI: So how did you choose a med school?

JY: Well, I was working on a course in experimental embryology, a very fine profession. And we had a course where one of these fellow students and I became fairly good friends, and he did some nice studies. And he was Jewish, and he went to a Catholic school in Milwaukee and he wrote me back and he's one year ahead of me. He said, "Jim, you ought to give a try to this school." He knew we were pre-med, so he said, "Why don't you put in an application?

TI: And as a Jew, he said that because he said the school would accept Jews and minorities?

JY: Well, he was accepted, self-fulfilling kind of thing.

TI: And this was Marquette University, so it was a Jesuit school.

JY: Uh-huh.

TI: Oh, interesting. So that's how you chose Marquette.

JY: Yes, they chose me.

TI: Well, how many schools did you apply to?

JY: Several, but we were limited by admission fees, so you were very selective to the schools that you applied to. There were very few schools that had students, because at those days, the catalog had a printout of all the students in the classes. Most schools had about a maximum of around sixty at that time, to a hundred, and the students' name were in the catalog. And if there weren't Asian names on there, we figured there was no point in applying.

TI: So if the school didn't have a history of accepting Japanese or other Asians, you would just stay clear?

JY: Yes. Because even locally, it was known that there was a certain degree of unacceptance of outsiders.

TI: Well, locally, I mean, with USC...

JY: Yeah, SC was the other one.

TI: And they only accepted a few?

JY: Yes. And it seemed like those that did get in went to SC and did well there.

TI: So when you say a few, it was almost like a quota that they would just let maybe a certain...

JY: I don't know if it's because there were so few applying or went into the field, I couldn't say.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2005 Densho. All Rights Reserved.