WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Sarah Neeri, a recent honors graduate in Asian Studies at Whitman College, is the latest recipient of the annual Connie Jill Carlstrom Endowed Award for Japanese Studies.

The Carlstrom Award, which includes a $2,000 cash prize, is presented each spring to one or more outstanding students of Japanese language and culture who are interested in pursuing graduate studies and possibly a career in some aspect of U.S.-Japan relations.

Neeri, who is working this summer in the Penrose Library at Whitman, plans to apply this fall to the Master of Library Science program at Indiana University. Neeri has worked in the Penrose Library throughout her time at Whitman, and her long-range goal is to work in a foreign languages library.

The Carlstrom Award honors the late Connie Jill Carlstrom of Yakima, Wash., who graduated from Whitman in May, 1993, and was teaching English in Japan when she died in September of that year. Ms. Carlstrom's family and friends, including her parents, Connie and Roger Carlstrom of Yakima, established the award program. This marks the ninth year the award has been given.

Neeri, a graduate of Shadle Park High School in Spokane, Wash., is the daughter of Jeanine and Frank Neeri of Spokane.

"Sarah was consistently one of our top Japanese students during the past four years," notes Ron Takemoto, a Whitman assistant professor of Japanese. "Her work in Japanese language and literature courses was exemplary, and her enthusiasm was contagious. She earned A's in all of her language courses. Sarah definitely continues the strong lineage of Carlstrom Award winners."

After taking three years of Japanese classes in high school, Neeri came to Whitman in part because of its link to the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP). Whitman is one 16 liberal arts colleges in the U.S. that selects about 40 students each year for intensive studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. Neeri spent her junior year in Kyoto.

As a sophomore at Whitman, she lived for one semester in Tekisuijuku, the Japanese language house on campus. She also began taking Chinese classes that year and eventually completed two years of study in that language.

Neeri's honors thesis at Whitman examined the language used in the short stories of the Japanese author Mukoda Kimiko (1929-1981). Mukoda began her professional career as a scriptwriter for radio and television dramas. Her short stories were autobiographical in nature and focused on life in post-World War II Japan.

After completing a master's degree in library science, Neeri hopes to return to Japan for at least one year to teach English as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program.