Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

2023 Martin Scholars

We are pleased to introduce the 2023 Martin Family Foundation Scholars!

Four new Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholars were selected in September 2023. Below, please find brief bios and tips for future applicants shared by these Scholars. The Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholarship enables Washington State Community College students of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement to complete their baccalaureate degrees at the University of Washington in Seattle. The next deadline for the MHS will be July 2024.

Four new Martin Family Foundation Achievement Scholars were selected in May 2023. Below, please find brief bios and tips for future applicants shared by these Scholars. 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. Individuals selected for the 2023 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 2024. The next deadline for the MAS will be April 2024. 

2023 Martin Honors Scholars:

2023 Martin Achievement Scholars:


Ahmad Hilal Abid, Edmonds College

I immigrated to the United States in 2018 at age 17 from Afghanistan and established the House of Wisdom in 2020 during the pandemic in my father’s garage, originally accommodating 20 local immigrants and refugees. Over time, the organization has expanded its reach and now provides personalized tutoring, cultural learning programs, and other valuable resources to hundreds of students. I hold two degrees in paralegal and general studies from Edmonds College, and I am pursuing further studies in Political Science at the University of Washington starting this fall.

During my time at Edmonds College, I held various leadership positions such as Chair for the Student Trustee Committee, Chair for the Student Government Selection Committee, Executive Officer for Diversity, etc. I have received numerous awards and accolades for outstanding work both as a student and through the House of Wisdom. Notably, I was honored with the Governor’s Student Civic Leadership Award and nominated as one of two students from Edmonds College for the All-Washington Academic Team. The Washington State Senate also passed a resolution acknowledging my contributions to the House of Wisdom. Several local news outlets, including the Seattle Times, Everett Herald, My Edmonds News and Lynnwood Times, have featured and recognized the impactful work of the House of Wisdom. In my free time, I love to read books, go to hike, play soccer and gym.

I applied for the 2023 Martin Family Scholarship because when l checked the requirements, I felt confident that I was eligible for this great scholarship. In addition, I was very concerned about paying my undergraduate degree tuition.

Ahmad’s near and long-term goals:

My short-term goal is to complete my undergraduate degree in political science and get involved in UW student body leadership. My long-term goal is to work to sustain the House of Wisdom nonprofit organization and attend law school for human rights.

Ahmad’s tips for future applicants:

Begin your scholarship search and application process well in advance. Scholarships often have deadlines, and applying early can give you more time to prepare a strong application. Always check your spelling and sentences and make sure to get your work reviewed by an academic advisor before submitting. Be confident, never get disappointed, and always have hope.


Sohrab Osmany, Shoreline College

Sohrab Osmany is a first-generation student studying Computer Science at the University of Washington. He is planning to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree within the next two years. Sohrab was inspired by his mother who helped him through his life to be a better person and make a good change no matter how small in the community.

Sohrab was born and raised in Afghanistan. His story starts when he left his third year of university in Afghanistan, moved to the U.S.A. back in 2020, and started a job at Fred Meyer. He knew very little English, but he started learning more by talking to customers and employees. He worked hard to learn the language and culture to start college once again from the beginning and continue his dream. Sohrab started Computer Science in 2021 at Shoreline Community College and worked part-time at different jobs to be able to pursue his degree. He knew what he wanted to do with his life, and his goals were set in his mind. He was successfully transferred to the University of Washington in the spring of 2023 and started his new journey in Computer Science.

Throughout his journey, Sohrab was passionate about helping new immigrants and connecting them with the resources that they needed. As a result, he started volunteering at Seattle Public World School in 2021 as a teacher assistant in STEM classes. Sohrab also helped new Afghan students at the school to find the right resources, use available resources, and stay connected with their teachers and peers during school hours.

Sohrab’s near and long-term goals:

My near-term goals include securing a research opportunity in the upcoming quarters and securing a 2024 summer internship. In the long term, I aim to pursue a Master’s and potentially a Ph.D. in Computer Science to contribute to technology through research and innovation.

Sohrab’s tips for future applicants:

Good luck on your journey! You deserve to be here. Start early and try to get other opinions on your essays. Write about your extra curriculars and tell the Martin Family Foundation how much you deserve to get the scholarship. Be honest, dig deep in yourself, and write about your true self. It’s important to start early and go through your application many times.


Charlie Patnode, Cascadia & Edmonds Colleges

Hello! My name is Charlie. I am a junior at UW and a biochemistry student. Outside of the school, I am a huge nature enthusiast. My favorite thing about living in the Seattle area is that we have a vast array of diverse ecosystems all around us. When I have free time, I hike with my mycology and plant field guides and seeing if I can identify the plants and mushrooms that catch my eye. I recently picked up powerlifting as a hobby, and participate in beginner weightlifting competitions. I enjoy lifting because it challenges my mind and body, encouraging me to go outside of my comfort zone.

Coming from community college, I was able to work part time through school to pay for school and living expenses. I am proud to be a first-gen college and latinx student, but I don’t have the same social or financial resources some of my peers do. Transferring to a university to finish my education came with a daunting cost that I was not certain I could pay for. I am incredibly thankful that I heard about the Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholarship. Being a recipient of this award means I can worry less about how I am going to pay for my future, and take more time to find community on campus, focus intently on completing my degree, and pursue my dream of becoming a biochemical researcher.

Charlie’s near and long-term goals:

In the next two years I want to do undergraduate research while I complete my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Eventually I would like to work in the development Alzheimer’s or cancer treatment.

Charlie’s tips for future applicants: 

When choosing your mentors to write your letters of recommendation, avoid asking those who have only seen your victories. Ask mentors who have played a significant part in guiding you toward your ambitions. They have likely have seen you struggle, and have knowledge on how you draw motivation, your work ethic, and how you overcome difficulty. They can provide an in-depth illustration of what makes you a capable learner, inside and outside the classroom.


Gabriel Sison, Highline, North Seattle & Shoreline Colleges

Gabriel is a computer science and math double major interested in learning more about machine learning and developing software that helps maximize efficiency for others. At his previous institution, he helped revive his schools Computer Science’s Club online community as its Web Content Manager, was the sole TA for introductory CS coursework, a math tutor for coursework such as linear algebra and differential equations, and a data analyst volunteer for a Seattle-based non profit called TakeOnCollege. But Gabriel didn’t always have things figured out for himself. Growing up, although he was always a curious kid, his low-income first-generation background made it hard for him to explore what he really wanted out of life. By the time he reached high school, he was just another C-student with no sense of direction in life, with little exposure to the potential of America.

This all changed when he enrolled at Highline Community College, and was given the opportunity to take coursework he was interested in. Being hired as a math tutor allowed him to buy food and supplies he needed to become successful, and made money less of a concern.

When he got accepted into both UW Seattle’s computer science and math program, he didn’t want to let go of the once in a lifetime opportunity and was willing to do whatever it took to be able to attend. He applied to multiple scholarships, with the hopes of at least winning one. And now, he’s able to attend UW this Fall through the generosity of both the Martin Family Foundation and the Washington Nasa Space Grant Consortium.

This scholarship will give him the privilege of being able to focus solely on his interests in research and taking advanced coursework without the constant thought of money that’s plagued him all his life stopping him.

Gabriel’s near and long-term goals:

Gabriel wants to become involved in research at UW surrounding machine learning and its intersections with math. After UW, he wants to start his own company, making use of the knowledge he’s gained, developing software that helps other companies become more efficient.

Gabriel’s tips for future applicants: 

Develop a clear vision for yourself. Going through the application was a lot easier for me to do once I realized which aspect of myself I wanted to show in the best way possible.


William Crosby, Tacoma Community College

I’m Willie. I am a single father to a 4 year old son. I am also a mechanical engineering student at TCC and a mechanic at Nordlund boats in Tacoma. My life leading up to the last two years was chaotic, but filled with learning experiences.

Neither of my parents made it through college. My mother taught at an early learning school in Fife when I was a kid and she really encouraged me to love learning, my father on the other hand encouraged me to work hard. I started pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering in 2010 at Tacoma Community College. I dropped out after a few quarters.

After I left school I fell into addiction, I then lost my mom to leukemia and I lost my relationships with the rest of my family. I have worked since then with friends I met through AA and NA on developing my character. Through introspection and patience I found that I wanted to be more disciplined and reliable so I’ve been learning how. I’m learning how to be prepared for the future and to be the father that I want to be.

I don’t know the challenges that the future holds or the problems I may face in the future, but I am working to be prepared when things do arise. That’s part of what makes the work of becoming educated so worthwhile to me. It seems that by embracing hard work and finding ways to become better each day that I am growing and becoming reliable and comfortable in more and more stressful circumstances. In the end what I want more than anything is to be a strong, loving, and responsible person; I think having those attributes will prepare me to be useful to my family and to my community.

I met people during my time as an addict who needed help but who seemed unreachable to me at the time. It affected me deeply that I didn’t know how to help. I think now, as I grow in my recovery, that I am learning tools that I can use to help addicts like the ones I knew back then. I’ve had the opportunity to give back a small portion of what was given to me by going to panels and meetings and sharing my story with addicts who still struggle but there is so much more to do. I want to give back what’s been given to me.

I believe in the path that I have been on. I have seen many blessings unfold since I started living cleanly and there is so much more of life to enjoy from this point forward.

Willie’s near and long-term goals:

Short term I want to get the best education I can in order to provide well for my son. I also want to be a good brother to my sisters and a good friend, I think by continuing to grow personally I can do that. In the long term I want to make a difference in my community, or at least lessen the suffering of my community by applying the lessons I have learned to those that they can help.

Willie’s tips for future applicants:

Present yourself honestly, and be open. Dig deeply and ask yourself why you’re getting an education. What have you overcome to be here and what do you hope to become by the time you’re done?


Joshua Fox, Shoreline Community College

Joshua Fox is an artist and Behavioral Health Professional who was born and raised in rural Eastern Washington. He spent his late teens working as an Actor in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. When he was 20, he played Gabe Goodman in a musical called Next To Normal. This show was highly centered on themes of grief, mental illness/health, suicide, and drug abuse. A good amount of this show is set in a Psychiatrist’s office where psychotherapy is provided for one of the characters. This was Joshua’s first introduction to therapy.

Just before, during, and after Next To Normal; Joshua was starting to become in tune with the effects of his childhood trauma and how it was affecting his thoughts, body, and behavior. Following the closing of the show, Joshua enrolled in Therapy at a community mental health center. Through therapy, Joshua started to develop tools to challenge his destructive thought patterns, as well as some self confidence. Therapy showed Joshua that he had strengths, wisdom, and value too. This is also where Joshua’s passion for Clinical Social Work sparked. He still remembers his first therapist, Suzanne, saying “You would make such a great Social Worker.” He’d never thought that he was capable of helping others through Social Work, but Suzanne helped him start to see he could! Though he knew that a career as a Social Worker was a long ways away, he wanted to start building relevant skills as soon as possible.

During the pandemic, Joshua started working at a Behavioral Health agency that focused on delivering progressive Applied Behavior Analysis services. Joshua started as a Registered Behavior Technician and Peer Mentor, but eventually became a Staff Trainer and Manager of Peer Mentorship Proposal. Through training, working as a peer mentor, and developing the agency’s Peer Mentor program, Joshua’s passion for supporting others expanded and became more concrete. Through these positions, Joshua discovered the power of self determination and helping others establish their own goals and values.

In Spring of 2021, Joshua enrolled in college at Shoreline Community College on a whim. Though he graduated High School with a 2.2 GPA, he now has a 3.9 college GPA. Despite his academic success, Joshua found that life as a first-generation, independent college student can be financially stressful. At the thoughtful recommendation of Nicole Guenther from UW-Seattle’s School of Social Work, Joshua applied for the Martin Achievement Scholarship hoping to find help in alleviating this financial stress. He hopes that this scholarship helps him complete his “road map” to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a support for vulnerable populations.

Joshua’s near and long-term goals:

After finishing my AA at Shoreline Community College, I plan to pursue a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Welfare (BASW) as well as a Master’s in Social Work (with an emphasis in Clinical Social Work) from the UW-Seattle. After completing my Master’s degree, I plan to work as a Licensed Therapist in King County and start a family of my own!

Joshua’s tips for future applicants:

“Start your application early!”

  • I worked on my application for almost 2 months and poured a lot into it. This gave me time to outline, draft, revise, and finalize my essay question responses.

“Give your mentors an advanced notice, check in with them periodically, and communicate what message you’re trying to send with your application.”

  • I asked my mentors if they would write me a letter about 2 months before the application was due. I also checked in with them when I didn’t hear back from them in a timely manner and when the deadline was approaching. Finally my letters of recommendation and my essay question responses all communicated very similar messages which, I felt like, made my application much more powerful. I was able to do this because I shared the selection criteria with my mentors as well as some information about my relevant goals and values. I think this information was helpful to my mentors in their writing process (which benefitted me in the end!)

“Use any academic resources you have access to to get some help on your essays and application.”

  • I reached out to a English professor at my college to ask for feedback about my essay question responses. If you don’t have a trusted professor, have a friend, family member, or someone close to you proofread your responses!

“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and authentic.”

  • Feel free to share the hardships or adversity you’ve experienced through life. At the same time, focus on the message behind your experiences and how that message might relate to your relevant goals or values. The trying experiences you’ve endured and accomplishments you’ve achieved help you stand out and shape who you are and how you’ve gotten to where you are.

Somto Obi-iwuagwu, Green River College

Hello, my name is Somto Obi-Iwuagwu, but I go by Sommie. I am currently a pre-nursing major at Green River College. I plan to transfer to the University of Washington Seattle to obtain my BSN degree. My family and I moved to the United States a year ago from my home country (Nigeria). So, you can imagine that most of my formative years were done back in Nigeria. I come from a close-knit family, and I love my parents so much. My main priority is to make my parents proud, give them a more comfortable life and much later, I hope to take care of them properly just as they have done for my siblings and me.

I decided to study nursing because I find it really fascinating. I have always loved learning and reading about the human body and how our organ systems work together to maintain homeostasis. The human life is of great value and being given an opportunity to contribute to ensuring the well-being and care of others is a really good feeling. I know this a very challenging and tasking course to study, but with determination, resilience and hard work I know that I would be able to achieve my goal.

I enjoy listening to music, planning, traveling, journaling and trying new things. I am currently a member of the nursing organization in my school which is made up of amazing nurses and future nurses who come together to perform certain roles and responsibilities. Honestly, I decided to apply for this scholarship because my professor, Dr. Leo recommended it and I saw it as an opportunity to enhance my educational goals and interests. I hope that this scholarship will enable me to gain valuable experience and skills that will help me achieve my future career goals.

Sommie’s near and long-term goals:

I plan to volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital very soon and hopefully get my CNA license as well. I hope to complete my BSN degree and get a master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner someday.

Sommie’s tips for future applicants:

I would say be completely honest about everything and ask questions when necessary.


Elishah Webb, Everett Community College

Hello, my name is Elishah. I am a first-generation student who grew up in Mooresville, North Carolina. I am currently studying at Everett Community College pursuing a degree in Aerospace Engineering and looking to transfer to the University of Washington.

When I was younger I always loved learning about how things worked and making things go fast. Fighter jets in particular were a large part of my interest. I would often help my neighbors build and work on racecars, which is what gave me my first real hands-on experience with putting things together and taking them apart, having a machine that is constantly pushed to its performance limits. These are the things that I believe helped me get into the field of STEM even more.

I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force prior to graduating high school and was in basic training 3 days after getting my diploma. Since then I have finished serving in the military and gained professional experience in various technical support roles. Still having a feeling of wanting to do something more, I’ve gained hobbies like building drones. It was because of this that my passion for things that fly was reignited, but it wasn’t until learning a little something about myself that would push me to pursue school again. That being diagnosed as an adult with ADHD. This made me understand myself much better and put so many pieces together for me to reflect on. Since this discovery, I have been able to learn and use tools obtained through therapy to help keep my focus and drive. And have since been enrolled in school and excelled beyond what I thought I was capable of when in high school. I am active in my schools extracurriculars being a part of TRIO, MESA, as well as being the president of the STEM Club which also helps me succeed in school and gain experience.

Being able to pursue my goals of getting a degree and higher education in Aerospace Engineering is what motivated me to apply for the Martin Achievement Scholarship. Being assisted financially will be a major pillar in my future success as this will enable me to focus more on my education rather than worrying about how I may afford to go to school.

Elishah’s near and long-term goals:

My near goals is to continue my education and complete my bachelors degree while maintaining my honors status, along with gaining internship and research experience. A long term goal is to continue my education and pursue a PhD with the end goal of to help develop/create something that will help the people of this world within the Aerospace spectrum.

Elishah’s tips for future applicants:

Make sure that you set aside time to go over the application and put together a thoughtful essay that really speaks to who you are and your goals. It is important to share your story and where you want to end up at, maybe add some examples of how you have already put some of these methods to work, or new ones you might try. Having peers check out what you have put together will also help with ensuring your essay is complete and touches on all the needed points. One other thing is to make sure you have some faculty that are willing to write you a letter of recommendation and that you get this information to them in time before the submission deadline!