Dr. Kenji Ima

Dr. Kenji Ima is a retired Professor Emeritus from the Sociology Department at San Diego State University (SDSU). During WWII, Dr. Ima was forced to complete his primary and secondary schooling at the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho for Japanese Americans. Dr. Ima holds a B.S. from Whitman College, an M.S. from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He also received post-doctoral training at various institutions of the University of California. Dr. Ima specialized in medical sociology and initially worked at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

In 1972, Dr. Ima was granted the rank of full professor at SDSU. His initial interests and research focused on Asian American youth, child abuse, education, youth gangs, and community organizations. In 1975, as Southeast Asians began arriving in San Diego, Dr. Ima turned his research towards their transition into the United States. During the course of this work, he spent time working with Asian American community organizations, advocating on their behalf for assistance in making the transition into a new world, much smoother. Among other things, Dr. Ima helped establish a school counseling team in San Diego City Schools, develop a police community relations office in East San Diego, created advocacy groups in schools and the community, and acquired a building for a community center.

Additionally, Dr. Ima works with local, state and national organizations dealing with citizenship, bilingual education, public safety, and youth adjustment. Thus, his academic and community outreach work are an integral part of each other.

After a recent return from the Minidoka internment camp, Dr. Ima reflected: “…It dawned on me that my work mirrors my childhood internment camp experience and its aftermath – I too had been making an adjustment to a new world.”