Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

2016 Martin Scholars

We are pleased to introduce the 2016 Martin Family Foundation Scholars!

Three 2016 Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholars were selected in September: Andre Bland, Electrical Engineering major from North Seattle College; Patricia Saya, Nursing major from Highline College; Khatsini Simani, Business major from Seattle Central College. The Martin Honors Scholarship recipients are generally selected during the summer of their transfer year to UW. They are considered for superior strength of character, intellectual ability, a sense of purpose, and leadership and service to the community. The next deadline for the Honors application will be July 2017.

Three 2016 Martin Family Foundation Achievement Scholars were selected in May: Musa Abdi, South Seattle College; Jane Harrell, Tacoma Community College; Robert Pedersen, South Seattle College. The Martin Achievement Scholarship selects student early in their community college career and will fund, encourage and support their study and eventual transfer to the University of Washington-Seattle Campus. Individuals selected for the 2016 MAS will continue at their respective colleges to complete their courses of study and eligibility credits for specific degree work and will transfer to the UW in 2017. The next deadline for the MAS will be May 2017.


Andre Bland

North Seattle College
2016 Martin Honors Scholar

After completing his Associate of Science degree at North Seattle College this year, Andre E. Bland Jr. was thrilled to be accepted into the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Washington. This is something he could not have imagined as a high school student. Andre’s plans for college were derailed when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Studying and learning while dealing with his mother’s sickness was challenging and Andre began to hate school, especially math an science classes. The death of his mother during his senior year made things even worse. He persevered and graduated from high school, but did not know what to do next. After taking time off from school, enrolling at North Seattle College gave him the opportunity to find an area of study that truly inspires him.

At North Seattle, Andre realized that to succeed, he would have to reinvent himself as a student. He started by taking classes he had struggled with in high school, vowing to master the material this time. Success in algebra led to success in progressively more difficult math and science classes. In physics, Andre saw the way math and science could be used to solve real world problems, and this drew him to engineering. Learning about electricity, he saw how advances in electrical energy technologies could help solve the world’s energy problems. These experiences converged into a plan to study electrical engineering.

Andre’s work earned him a place in the UW’s Electrical Engineering department. He was also awarded the 2016 NASA Space Grant scholarship for community college transfer students and invited to participate in the 2016 Seattle University SUMmer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). In the REU, he co-wrote “Digital Patters and Dominance in Base-3/2,” which he and his research partners hope to publish soon.

At the UW, Andre will prepare for a career in which he can use engineering to positively impact the world. He plans to work in the electric automobile industry, where he can help develop environmentally friendly modes of transportation. He is a member of the UW’s EcoCAR3 team that aims at making a 2016 Chevy Camaro more environmentally friendly and has joined the UW chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. He will also participate in programs intended to bring minority students into STEM majors. He hopes that he can use his story to help mentor other students who may be struggling in math and science classes like he once did.


Patricia Saya

Highline College
2016 Martin Honors Scholar

Born and raised in the Philippines, Patricia moved to the United States at age 10, carrying her ambitions heavily influenced by her background. Living in a tightly knit family, she was inspired by her grandfather to value opportunities that education brought when she learned about how he made his way out of poverty through teaching himself how to read. Her experiences and background in the Philippines led her to strive for excellence in every aspect of her life when she moved to the US.

She built a strong foundation in high school by participating in the International Baccalaureate program, teaching her how to maintain a balanced life with heavy course work, extracurricular activities and spending time with family. Continuing her education at Highline College, she became involved in and out of campus by becoming a Writing Consultant at the Highline Writing Center, becoming a member of Phi Theta Kappa, as well as volunteering in various departments at Swedish Medical Center as a Health Scholar. Through gaining clinical exposure, she fell in love with the relationships created between nurses and patients, and this reminded her of the way she helped take care of her grandfather when she was younger. That was when she knew nursing was her passion.

Patricia obtained her Associate’s in pre-nursing at Highline College with a 3.95 cumulative GPA, honors, and was accepted into the UW’s School of Nursing. She connected her experiences from her clinical background, strengthened communication skills at the Writing Center, and knowledge from her pre-nursing classes to see in a holistic perspective what she was passionate about. She is excited to start nursing school this fall to look for more opportunities that will allow growth and utilization of her skills that will help her become an active member of this new community.


Khatsini Simani

Seattle Central College
2016 Martin Honors Scholar

Khatsini Simani is a Seattle native and a rising junior at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business where she will pursue an accounting option in the Fall of 2016. Her passions include economic empowerment, healthy food, and cycling.

As a Community Outreach and Fulfillment Coordinator at Alta Planning and Design and an Education Program Coordinator at the Cascade Bicycle Club, Khatsini taught hundreds of students, employers, and everyday people how to navigate the city by foot, bike, and bus. While biking, she finds that her focus, health, and overall happiness improves. She’s found this to be true both in her personal and academic life, having witnessed the detrimental effects of health-related illnesses and financial instability in her family. Her initial undergraduate career was interrupted early due to financial challenges. She used the opportunity to embark on a personal and academic journey that would transform the way she approached learning.

The continuous thread, she’s found, has been empowerment, education, and agency, themes that have sustained her during her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. From rediscovering her love of math to maintaining an A average in her business prerequisite courses, there have been few goals that have not required a can-do attitude and a strong will to overcome obstacles. Khatsini plans to pursue a career in accounting, to research and contribute to financial literacy education, and to continue to be an advocate for healthy lives for all. A long-time supporter and former youth participant of Food Education Empowerment and Sustainability Team (FEEST), she also serves as a board chair of the youth-led non-profit organization that introduced healthier food options in her life as a teen.

Khatsini is honored to be considered for the Martin Honors Scholarship and looks forward to contributing to the field of business and accounting during her academic career at the University of Washington.


Musa Abdi

South Seattle College
2016 Martin Achievement Scholar

Born in Ethiopia, Musa Abdi grew up in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where his family moved after his father’s death. Life was difficult in Kakuma which has been described as “equal parts prison and exile.” Musa witnessed the daily toll that lack of medical care wrought — death during childbirth, improper use of medications, and death from treatable diseases such as malaria — and he decided he would become a doctor.

In 2013, Musa and his family immigrated to the United States where their lives improved in terms of physical amenities and access to healthcare. However, they struggled financially and emotionally. Musa’s mother became disheartened. She was a single parent in a foreign culture where she could not communicate or get a job. In a short time, she and her family were evicted because they could not afford the rent.

As a high school senior, Musa shouldered some of the worry. However, rather than discouraging him, these hardships motivated him to work harder and to reach farther in his education. In Fall 2014, even though he was not yet eligible for in-state tuition, Musa enrolled at South Seattle College (SSC). He had been awarded SSC’s 13th Year Scholarship which, along with financial aid, helped pay tuition. At orientation, Musa affiliated with TRiO and was soon hired as a peer tutor. He enjoys helping and encouraging students who seek him out for drop-in tutoring and advice.

Musa seizes every opportunity to enhance his education, participating in the 2015 Summer Medical Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at UW, Phi Theta Kappa, and SSC’s Ready, Set, Transfer Program for STEM majors. He also gives back to his community — volunteering regularly at St. Mary’s Food Bank, serving as interpreter and instructor at parent education workshops for new immigrants, and participating in SSC community service events. In 2016, Musa was selected for the All-Washington Academic Team and was awareded the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.

As a result of SMDEP and additional research of healthcare careers, Musa plans to become a pharmacist. Through his career, he will be able to relieve suffering and educate patients. He will be able to provide for his family. He will be able to mentor and encourage immigrants, refugees, first generation college students, and all students who hope to contribute to society through a healthcare career. Through times of adversity, education has been Musa’s lifeline. He notes, “I loved school so much from a young age. I was very dedicated to my studies. I never wasted my time; these habits became part of my life and to this date is still my first priority.”


Jane Harrell

Tacoma Community College
2016 Martin Achievement Scholar

Jane is currently a sophomore at Tacoma Community College. She will transfer to the University of Washington in the fall of 2017 for a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Atmospheric Science.

Her interest in atmospheric science began in 2012 when Jane and her husband purchased a commercial fishing boat in Southeast Alaska. Their first season she quickly realized how dependent commercial fishermen are on the weather. In 2015 their business was crippled by an unusually warm season that fueled a massive algal bloom along the West Coast. When Jane discovered that the unusual frequency of large blooms is thought to be related to warmer climate patterns, she knew she wanted to focus her studies on climatology. She hopes her research will help industries dependent on climate prepare for the effects of climate change.

Jane was a young girl when she discovered her passion for the natural sciences. Going to college was never a question, but she started her family young in life and decided to temporarily set her educational dreams aside to raise her two daughters. With both of her girls now in school, Jane has returned to her dream of attaining a higher education and hopes her academic journey will inspire her daughters to pursue their educations in STEM.

Jane has been recognized as a High Honors student at TCC. She enjoys volunteering for Tacoma Metro Parks helping to restore the natural habitat of Tacoma. She is a volunteer tutor with Tacoma Community House, a non-profit organization that provides math and ESL courses, citizenship assistance, and job training to immigrants, refugees, and long-time community members. Upon transferring to UW-Seattle Jane plans to join UW’s student chapter of the American Meteorological Society.


Robert (Bobby) Pedersen

South Seattle College
2016 Martin Achievement Scholar

At the age of 19, Bobby didn’t know if school was for him. Having failed out of Bellevue College twice due to active addiction, school just didn’t seem like a realistic pursuit; he had resigned himself to being a bartender for the rest of his life. Little did he know that big changes were right around the corner!

Flash forward seven years, a stint in rehab, a wife, daughter, and a house later, and Bobby was finding his job in restaurant management unfulfilling. It paid the bills, but something in him yearned to go back to school and to try to accomplish more. He wanted to not only be a good example for his daughter, but also hopefully create a means to provide for her with more ease and get more time with her. With a vague idea of what he wanted to do, Bobby enrolled in South Seattle College near his young family’s new home, and began what would be a journey of growth unlike any he had known before.

Through taking classes, Bobby discovered his love and aptitude for mathematics. He decided that long term, he would like to teach math, but wondered if there might be another career path he could follow rather than going straight into teaching. After a couple of quarters testing the waters, and some inspiration from wonderful teachers, Bobby landed on engineering, and has been enthralled by the many science classes he has taken as prerequisites since. He currently tutors math at South Seattle, reaffirming his passion for helping others, and his long term goal of becoming a teacher. Bobby looks forward to the future for more opportunities to learn, grow, and hopefully to give back along the way.