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Jason’s participation has historic significance. Born in the Marshall Islands, 20 year-old Anju Jason, has the distinction of being the first Marshallese athlete ever to qualify and compete in the Olympic Games. He will represent his birth country in Beijing and is among a handful of Hawaii residents to qualify for this year’s Olympics.
“I am extremely proud to have this opportunity to represent the Marshall Islands and the State of Hawaii in a sport that I love so much, on such a major level,” said Jason. “I am grateful for the support of my family, friends, girlfriend, and co-workers at Panda Express. I am especially thankful to my friends in Taekwondo who have helped me get to this point.”
Jason’s dream of becoming an Olympic athlete began 11 years ago when he was a 4th grader at Aliamanu Elementary School. Since then, Jason has earned a black belt and consistently medaled in a variety of Taekwondo tournaments.
Jason fulfilled another of his ambitions—he loves food and wanted to learn Asian cooking—when he started working at Panda Express. Anju was attracted to Panda Express because of its positive and supportive culture. He became a chef at the Moana Lua Panda Express location after attending Radford High School in Salt Lake, where he and his family still reside.
All of Panda Express’ more than 18,000 associates are proud of having an Olympic athlete among their ranks. “Anju’s dedication, work ethic, and spirit exemplify Panda’s mission, which is to deliver exceptional Asian dining experience by building an organization where people are inspired to better their lives,” says John Zhang, Panda Express’ Area Coach of Operation. “We are very fortunate to have so many talented associates such as Anju at Panda. Anju’s accomplishments are an inspiration to everyone. We are extremely proud of him.”