By Tanisha Bell
Leslie Nakai, a Cal State Dominguez Hills alumna who died in 2000, left behind a legacy that still benefits communications majors today.
She had dealt with a life-long heart condition and, after “several successful surgeries and treatments,” died at age 25. She suffered a heart attack just seven months after graduating from CSUDH with a bachelor’s in communications.
“Leslie had a wonderful time at Dominguez Hills,” her father, Dr. T. Roy Nakai, said in a previous interview with Dominguez Today magazine. “She got a lot out of being at Dominguez Hills, and I want to honor her.”
In 2001, her father, a dentist who had survived the Japanese American internment camps as a boy during World War II, established the Leslie Nakai Memorial Fund in reverence for his daughter.
Knowing how much she received from the Communications Department, he wanted to give a helping hand to students in need.
“My aim is that because someone helped them, these students will also give back,” Nakai said. “Each person’s small contribution adds up.”
His daughter aimed for a career in communications.
“Leslie wanted to work in radio and television,” Nakai said.
She didn’t get that chance, so her father set up a scholarship fund in his daughter’s name not long after she died to help others meet their educational and career goals.
Since 2001, Nakai has donated $60,000 to the Leslie Nakai Memorial Scholarship Fund, according to the college website.
The fund provides $5,000 in annual scholarships to communications students who need assistance.