Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Alumni Class Gift Scholars

Class of 1954 Achievement Awards

Sponsored by the University of Washington Alumni Class of 1954 in honor of their 50th Class Reunion, the Class of 1954 Achievement Scholarship will be awarded to outstanding students in their junior or senior year at the University of Washington (UW) who, by their achievements and goals, enrich society and themselves.

2017-2018 Scholars:

Mackenzie Andrews

Senior, Bioengineering and Neurobiology majors

I entered the University of Washington with the harsh implications of having an addicted parent encompassing my reality. However, I was also soberingly aware of how tragically far from unique my story was. With personal motivation, I sought to devote my education, career, and passions towards a world not plagued by the disease of addiction.

I aimed to gain an in depth understanding of the brain and neural mechanisms driving the disease while developing the skill sets to engineer solutions to aid in the research and treatment of addiction. To achieve this aim, I am pursuing a dual degree in Neurobiology and Bioengineering with a minor in Neural Computation and Engineering.

During the summer before my sophomore year, I was given the opportunity to work in Dr. Charles Chavkin’s research lab and have since become passionate about neuropharmacological research. We study the nociceptive, emotional, and addictive effects of endogenous opioids at the molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral level. The ultimate goal of the Chavkin lab is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of addictive tendencies and apply their therapeutic implications to the development of treatments for addiction.

Through exploring questions about the microscopic basis of addiction, I have been able to answer some of my personal questions about the condition at a macroscopic level. Is addiction truly a disease? Do addicts have a choice? What barriers are addicted people struggling against? Through these questions I have come to understand my family’s story within a societal context.

While my family is a small piece in the societal puzzle of addiction, I aim to be a loud voice in the fight for a world not plagued by the disease of addiction.

Carly Baker

Junior, Geography major

When I graduated from high school, I didn’t have a clear picture of what I was going to do so I attended some classes before deciding that I would do what my family did: work my way into a position that would last me 50 years. I took out a loan that allowed me to complete my occupational training to become a veterinary technician, which I have been doing for the last 10 years. While working as a veterinary technician, I prioritized traveling, and it is these experiences that led me back to college. While hiking parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, I gained tremendous respect for the natural world. In my travels around North and South America, I learned that human rights are often not universal. I became interested in sustainable food while volunteering through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and later initiated a small farm with a community supported agriculture program. Since beginning college in 2015, I have had to opportunity to intern and collaborate on research in Nicaragua, and now I am here at the University of Washington as a first generation college student. Much of my past has stayed with me as I pursue a new path, both as hobbies and in my education. In winter 2018, I finally chose a major, geography and Spanish, that felt perfect after being undecided for so long. As a geographer, I am interested in food justice and sovereignty, specifically within a feminist ecological framework.

With this scholarship, I am hoping to study abroad in the early fall studying the impacts of migration and sustainability leadership in Oaxaca, Mexico with the Spanish and Portuguese department. In addition, I have applied for the UW Honors program and the scholarship could contribute to my research, which will be looking at emerging and disappearing food systems. Following my undergraduate education, I plan to go to graduate school to perform more research and hopefully teach one day. School has and will continue to be a platform in which to structure my ideas to define my career path and I am grateful for every opportunity I am given.

Dagmawit Kemal

Junior, Communication: Journalism major

Growing up, I have always felt responsible for my education. I immigrated from Ethiopia when I was about three years old. My parents always encouraged my siblings and I to take our education seriously so that idea was grounded in us at a very young age. Fortunately for me, I had very supportive parents but the downside was that they had little knowledge about the education system in the U.S. This pushed us to advocate for our own learning at a very young age.

Last autumn, I studied abroad in Spain with a faculty led program. Through that experience I learned the importance of independence and trying new things. I was challenged by the Spanish language and living with a host family. Although that experience did introduce me to a different environment, I was still somehow sheltered because I knew there were other students that I knew in my program.

That has pushed me to go on an exchange program to King’s College London next Winter where I am completely independent. I am looking forward to seeing the way that Journalism is executed abroad especially in such a diverse place like London. While at Kings College, I hope to get an internship during the school year to help prepare me for the world after college. In the future, I want to merge my passion for human rights with my passion for storytelling by either returning to my country, Ethiopia or even giving back to my Central District community here in Seattle.

2016-2017 Scholars:

Diana Gil-Vargas

Junior, Community, Environment and Plannings major

Diana Gil-Vargas is a transfer student from Yakima Valley College (YVC) and is currently a junior studying to earn her BA in Community, Environment and Planning (CEP) at the UW. Her focus within CEP is to learn about the intersectionality of the built environment, the social structures, and diverse groups of people of the environment. She hopes to one day become and urban planner to help address the environmental and social inequities underrepresented communities of color face. As a future planner, she hopes to create safe, accessible and sustainable spaces for all people.

Along with her interest in education, Diana is passionate about community engagement because she enjoys engaging with community members and learning about different communities’ histories. Her interests in community development and the environment have led her to work with different organizations. Diana was an intern for the Latino Community Fund (LCF) where she outreached to the Latino communities in Beacon Hill and South Park to inform the residents about Seattle’s Equity and Environment Agenda. The informational sessions helped residents engage in dialog about equity, sustainability and safety while being able to raise concerns and suggests about the changes they wish to see in their communities. Diana is eager to continue working in community development and engagement opportunities.

Elizabeth Purdy

Junior, Social Welfare major

Elizabeth Purdy is a Social Welfare major at the University of Washington School of Social Work. Elizabeth focuses on working with immigrant and refugee populations and is a current volunteer for the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) in their after school program. She loves learning about other cultures and spent a year and a half as a volunteer English teacher in a remote village in Darjeeling District, India. She has a passion for language learning and is currently studying Hindi and Urdu as a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow for Hindi. She was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) last summer for Hindi, and is a CLS Alumni Ambassador.

This summer, she will be studying Nepali language as a FLAS Fellow at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal. While there, she plans to promote international understanding by setting up a penpal relationship between students in Kathmandu and students in Seattle.



Class of 1957 Scholar Award

The Class of 1957 Scholar Award is sponsored by the UW Alumni Class of 1957 to provide scholarship support to outstanding undergraduate students at the University of Washington who demonstrate high academic merit and financial need.

2017-2018 Scholar:

Melissa Krook

Senior, Psychology major

Melissa is a senior majoring in Psychology. Her future goals include earning a PhD in clinical geropsychology. She intends to research the psychological effects of aging, specifically, how our physical and mental state as well as our social environment affects our individual aging process. She believes that as the U.S. demographic shifts toward a larger elder population, the need for therapeutic interventions is critical. As caregiver for her grandmother, who suffered from pulmonary comorbidities, she experienced this first-hand. This award will help her to progress toward becoming a research geropsychologist.

In 2017, Melissa was selected to participate in the UW Scan|Design Innovations in Pain Summer Research Program. During this time, she worked full-time to design and implement a project measuring the effects of multisite pain on health-related quality of life in older adults. This was her first practical research experience and fueled her motivation to pursue a research career.

Currently, Melissa is researching how older adults perceive and prepare for disaster situations. Her goal is to increase recognition of this important population among the general public and to educate emergency organizations that service older adults about how to support them. With the support of her Mary Gates Endowment Research Scholarship, she will finish this project in time for graduation this summer 2018.

She is a member of the Psi Chi Honor Society, the APA Division 20: Adult Development and Aging and the UW Undergraduate Research Leaders, a group that educates students about the benefits of undergraduate research. She has also worked within a local retirement community to assist in the development of healthy aging programs.

Melissa is passionate to not only alleviate aging pains, but to contribute to the resources that enhance being alive. For her current research, this means increasing what we know about age-specific disaster preparedness and utilizing it to protect older adults. Ultimately, she aims to develop psychological interventions and link them to medical treatments to enhance wellness worldwide.

Catherine Pham

Sophomore, Biochemistry major

Catherine Pham is a second-year student studying biochemistry with a minor in music. Her identity as a first-generation Vietnamese American established core values of hard work, service, and education in her life. With her drive to persevere and succeed, she constantly seeks new experiences, which has allowed her to discover her passions for people, science, and healthcare.

She is heavily involved in the Associated Students of the UW where she strives to bridge the gap between the student body and university administration. She serves as the Office of Volunteer Opportunities recruitment intern and the Student Health Consortium specialized lead. Additionally, in the Fall, she was a First Year Group Leader where she facilitated a college-level course that provided high-level engagement and a 98% freshman retention rate.

Since June 2016, she has worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Biochemistry’s Kwon Lab. Her research focuses on the use of Drosophila melanogaster to understand cancer cell metastasis.

Her passion for healthcare derives from establishing a registered student organization that focuses on community health, participating in an exploration seminar in Chile that allows students to gain perspective in healthcare systems, and actively volunteering at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

In her free time, she loves to explore coffee shops, travel, hike, run, go on road trips, and spend time with her friends and family.

With a degree in Biochemistry, she strives to become a physician with the intention of approaching health from a preventative, community-based outlook to work toward building healthy communities. This summer she will be completing a research internship abroad at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. While embracing her dream of traveling around the world and her passion for science, she is taking one step forward to her goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Dylan Tran

Senior, Education and American Ethnic Studies majors

Dylan was born and raised on the Hilltop and Eastside of Tacoma, Washington. He is the son of Southeast Asian refugees and an undergraduate at the University of Washington studying Education and American Ethnic Studies. Passionate about educational equity and disrupting systematic oppression, he currently works over 30 hours a week as a Student Ambassador at the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, Legal Assistant under UW Student Legal Services, Legislative Coordinator at the Southeast Asian American Education Coalition, and Organizing Intern under OCA – Greater Seattle. Continually advocating for Southeast Asian visibility through disaggregation of data while at the same time supporting students of color pursue higher education, Dylan’s goal is to rewrite narratives of survival into stories of resilience. He hopes that one day he can return to the neighborhood he grew up in as an educator and policy writer, continuing the work of empowering youth as the next generation of scholars and leaders.

2016-2017 Scholar:

Jae Kim

Junior, Social Welfare major

My name is Jae Kim and I am majoring in social work because it trains us how to assist and counsel people professionally, and would give me the opportunity to work with individuals.

After getting my BASW/MSW, I want to become a transition specialist. A transition specialist is someone who helps students with disabilities by supporting them and assisting them to prepare for their post high school program. They also can work in a college setting.

I would like to make pathways for students with disabilities so that they can reach their maximum potential in school and life.



Class of 1962 Endowed Scholarship

The Class of 1962 Endowed Scholarship was developed to commemorate the 1962 alumni’s collective experience at UW. Their generous gifts fund this scholarship in honor of their 50th Reunion and the 150th Anniversary of UW! The Class of 1962 Endowed Scholarship provides financial assistance to current undergraduate students at the University of Washington. Students eligible to receive support from this endowment must be Washington State residents with demonstrated academic merit, leadership and service. The donors to this endowment, members of the University of Washington Class of 1962, wish to fund “the gap”: the growing number of middle-class students, many of whom do not qualify for federal funding or Husky Promise and must take out student loans and work full- or part-time to support their education.

2017-2018 Scholar:

Alana Edmondson

Senior, English and Classical Studies majors

2016-2017 Scholar:

Clara Manahan

Junior, Political Science; Law, Societies & Justice majors

Clara Manahan is a junior studying Law, Societies, and Justice and Communications. Born and raised in Seattle, Clara has always been interested in how cities function and the ways that politics, education, and government institutions impact individual lives. Before beginning at the University of Washington, she knew that she wanted to serve others—she just didn’t yet know how. Now, Clara’s academic interests focus on criminal justice, the school-to-prison pipeline, and how media shapes public consciousness. She has come to find an incredible home in the Law, Societies, and Justice program and is constantly challenged to think more critically about how to make the world we live in a more loving and just place.

Clara is also involved on and off campus in a variety of ways. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, Mortar Board Honor Society, and Huskies for Opportunities in Prison Education (HOPE). In her time at UW, she has helped conduct research on the juvenile justice system in King County and currently serves as a volunteer with University Beyond Bars at the Monroe Correctional Complex. She truly believes in the transformative power of education and is happy to be part of a community that encourages lifelong learning.

In her free time, Clara can be found reading (for fun), grabbing coffee with her family, or taking a walk with friends. She loves History Channel documentaries and doesn’t mind if everyone knows it. She loves hearing people’s stories and earnestly hopes that her future career will allow her to keep learning, challenge systems of injustice, and help people.