Meet the Naperville women making history right now! This blog highlights the stories of Naperville women nominated by the community through the HERstory campaign. 

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Aug 13

Meet Grace Arimura

Posted on August 13, 2020 at 10:42 AM by Denise Cartina

HERstory Nomination Grace Arimura

Arimura is 94 years young and a Naperville resident for the past twenty years. She's lived a remarkable life with humility, courage and compassion exemplified throughout!   


Grace's happy childhood in California came to tragic and frightening end in 1942 when she and her family were ordered to report for internment, along with 110,000 other Japanese Americans who lived on the west coast of our country. They left behind or sold at a loss everything they had and reported to a camp in Jerome, Arkansas. When she questioned her father about why this was happening, his reply "it can't be helped"...left her even more puzzled and frightened. Rising above these heartrending circumstances, Grace left the camp near the end of the war and headed to Washington, DC where she worked for a family and saved her money. In 1945, it was unusual for women to enter the professions and to get college degrees, but this is what Grace set about doing, all on her own! After earning her degree in medical technology, she enjoyed a long career in the medical field, eventually doing tissue research at the University of Miami medical center. 


In 1988, with her retirement imminent, she embarked on yet another adventure: joining the Peace Corps! Expecting a medical assignment, she was surprised to find that her skills were to be used as a teacher of young people in Botswana, Africa! Her memoir, My Journey to Botswana, is beautifully written and captures both the joy and the challenge of teaching with so few resources! During her two year stay she successfully applied for and received two community grants from the Peace Corps for the residents of her village: creation of a 9,000 gallon tank to capture rainwater for use during their dry season and the acquisition of a television and VCR for a community movie night for the people she served! 


These last twenty years have seen her become a community resource for classroom teachers as she has shared her experiences during WWII and the internment, as well as her Peace Corps experiences with the students in Botswana. She's been willing to join with others to help further human rights issues, both in our community and throughout the world.    


Grace's life story...and there are chapters yet to be written...showcases her courage and independence, as well as her compassion for others. She leads by example!"

Nominated by Dianne McGuire