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.
Tabatha De La Rosa Gomez
Class of 2023, Chemical Engineering major
I grew up in Mexico City, a big city with big problems, from air pollution and constant earthquakes to economic inequality. This experience made me interested on finding ways to help both people and the environment; as a chemical engineer I want to have a career where I work finding culturally conscious systems of renewable energy, while carrying a global mindset.
During summer 2019, I was accepted into the Clean Energy Bridge to Research program and got the opportunity to work at Dr. Luscombe’s laboratory at the UW Seattle campus. My project focused on studying novel methods to make polymeric chains for use in solar panels. I transferred from Green River College, where I served at the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) and the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program. I was selected to work as a student resource specialist for the ODEI office where I focused on providing resources and guiding the LatinX students to increase retention and close the equity gap. While at the MESA center I continued to work with underrepresented communities in science and worked with professors to design weekly workshops and curriculum that is included in their classes. During summer 2020, I became a fellow of the Centro Latino Institute of Public Policy, where I have had the opportunity to better inform myself as to how policy making works, have meetings with representatives, and advocate for the passing of bill HB 1372. This experience provided me with a foundation that I will use both to advocate for renewable sources and underserved communities.
Currently, at the University of Washington I look forward to getting more experience doing research and building relationships that can guide me to a career where I can integrate my passion for engineering and to help others.
Tabatha’s near and long-term goals:
As an engineer, I want to work with people with different specialties and from various parts of the world on solutions to worldwide problems that can be easily scaled and adapted to the necessities of each region.
Tabatha’s advice for future applicants:
Be organized, talk to your recommenders, and start your essay early.
Class of 2022, Political Science and intended Law, Societies & Justice majors
Attending the University of Washington, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take courses in Political Science and Law, Societies, and Justice. I knew I wanted to major in Political Science because it would give me the opportunity to study the effect of human behavior on political interaction. Upon taking my first Law, Societies, and Justice course, I was intrigued by how the subject looked at the ways in which law is always acting ambiguously within society.
Attending the University of Washington has been a valuable experience because it has given me the opportunity to take a diverse range of courses and participate in extracurriculars. I am currently beginning my research in the Political Science Honors Program, in which I plan to pursue an in-depth study of intersectionality in American politics. I am passionate about developing equity and social justice in the political landscape, so I hope to utilize my undergraduate research to better understand how politics can be used to enrich society.
Outside of class, I participate in student organizations and volunteer activities that have enriched my own academic experience and my community. I am the Vice President of the Nu chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. I am also the Vice President of UW’s chapter of The Women’s Network. My academic and extracurricular activities will enable me to pursue my goal of attending the University of Washington School of Law and becoming an attorney.
I am honored to receive this scholarship because it will reduce the financial burden on me and my family. Being able to attend an accredited research university opens up a world of opportunities for me to be able to pursue my goals and make a positive impact on my community.
Stella’s near and long-term goals:
My near-term goal is to graduate from the University of Washington with an undergraduate degree in both Political Science and Law, Societies, and Justice. After I graduate, my goal is to attend the University of Washington School of Law to study Public Service Law or Intellectual Property Law. My long-term goal is to work as an attorney for a law firm in Seattle because I love living in the pacific northwest and I want to continue to serve the community.
Stella’s advice for future applicants:
I would advise future students who apply to this scholarship to actively engage with professors, speak up in class, and attend office hours. The University of Washington professors are a diverse cohort of distinguished scholars who are willing to provide advice on research, academic and professional references, and mentorship throughout your academic career. Showing professors your appreciation for their work through participation builds the foundation for your future professional network. For scholarships, the faculty recommendation is a vital part of the application process, so it is important to have professors who can meaningfully attest to your academic merit. These recommendations will have lasting repercussions beyond your time at the University of Washington.
Class of 2021, Elementary Education major, UW Bothell
Growing up, I never saw myself in the classroom. I felt disheartened and unwelcomed in the world. I received negative presumptions from people and was made fun of the many identities that I hold (Muslim, Asian, Female), even in the classroom where I was supposed to be “safe”. My experience prompted me to change the views of those who underwent similar injustices in schools, neighborhoods, or other contexts of life. I sought to impact the youth and instill confidence and resilience within them. I turned my negative experiences into something positive and enrolled at UWB in the elementary education program. My time at UWB has strengthened my cultural multiplicity, allowing me to successfully integrate into a continuous multicultural world and fight against social injustices. I have immersed myself within various schools and communities. I volunteered at East African Community Services, devoting my time to tutor and educate students of color and low-income. I also became involved with the Chancellor Advisory Committee for students and the Professional Educational Advisory Board at UWB. I advocated and represented Seattle Housing Authority and its low-income residents in a meeting with the superintendent and board members of Seattle Public Schools to discuss the social injustices that my family, as well as others were facing. I pressed on issues concerning many injustices that have been prominent within education and other contexts related to our wellbeing. Speaking up and supporting voices who have been ostracized has given me a sense of hope and progress for social equality.
I’m here today as a future educator to stand up for the voiceless, ensuring diversity as an asset in my classroom. My aspiration is to not only promote students to reach their highest learning potential, but to also establish an optimistic generation to change our society.
Ana’s near and long-term goals:
I hope to continue my education and learn more about social inequities and injustices within the educational system and the society as a whole. I want to use the knowledge I gain from my studies as a pragmatic tool for coping with diversity and injustice while pursuing equality for all. I do seek be part of a school that holds the same values as me: seeing diversity as an asset and closing the educational gap.
Ana’s advice for future applicants:
Be proud of the struggles you have overcome and the accomplishments you have achieved. If you have sincerity in your aspirations and goals, you will shine!
Class of 2023, Interdisciplinary Visual Arts major
Natalia Sotelo is a Mexican-American third year student majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She decided on this combination of study because she learned to express her interests and passions through art, and entrepreneurship allows her to take that beyond, and put it into the world. She strives to make this a better, brighter place by raising awareness of cultural backgrounds and differences, as well as by depicting women’s experiences through her art.
Her work represents Mexican/latina women, and ancient women figures who have been forgotten by history books, or whose experiences have not been accurately portrayed in the media. Her art creates scenarios where women are depicted in a more liberating, mystical air, and whose bodies are shown in a raw, filter-free manner. She strives to create conversations about gender, the media, and inclusivity. At UW she joined the Arts Diversity Council, a group of artists from various mediums who want to raise diversity in the arts departments at UW. Here, along with the rest of ADC, she has hosted events featuring rising artists, and helped create a safe space for dialogue with other arts students. She is also involved in mural painting to be able to reach larger communities, which she has done by working with Urban ArtWorks. Her work has been featured in galleries and open spaces in Seattle, as well as in Mexico City. She is interested in expanding her art and message globally, and has a love for languages, as she sees art as another language for creating connections.
Natalia’s near and long-term goals:
My short term goals is to have art in an exhibition in Mexico City, and create three murals this year so it can impact larger communities. Another important goal is to graduate from university, and decide if I want to go to grad school. My long term goals are to be a professional artist creating murals around the world, raising awareness about gender disparity, and creating connections through conversations.
Natalia’s advice for future applicants:
Be specific with the things you have achieved! Don’t hold back because perhaps something that you consider “small,” might be worth including, and adding to your story.
Class of 2021, Art, Community, Environment & Planning majors
I am a first-generation college student, and my parents immigrated to the United States before I was born. They worked hard to put food on the table and a roof over my head. It is from these humble beginnings I have learned the value of hard work and perseverance. I always had a passion for the arts and culture in my community when I was growing up. In high school, I was introduced to art and was encouraged by my art teacher, Mrs. Hughes, to pursue my craft. After graduation, I wanted to go to you Europe and paint; however, my life took a different course. I enlisted in the military, where I would paint periodically throughout my enlistment. I never let go of my dream to become an artist despite life obligations.
I have always had an affinity for beautiful cities and their cultures. I have received an offer to study abroad from the University of Edinburgh and study in Denmark. Art is a universal language that speaks rich expressions, ideas, and concepts to the masses. Whether it is designing or creating an individual work, my art originates from my experiences and knowledge.
Today, I am a successful student majoring in Art and Community, Environment, and Planning at the University of Washington, with a 3.98 GPA. These two majors allow me to incorporate my sense of aesthetics into practical urban planning and designing applications. Art is the gift I have held on to all my life, and studying abroad in Edinburgh and Denmark is a fantastic opportunity for me. I want to be an example of perseverance for the youth to come. I plan to document my stay and share it with my cohorts at the UW to generate support and interest in the study abroad programs. I am thankful to the class of 1954 for being part of the making of my history.
Pierre’s near and long-term goals:
My near-term goals are to graduate from the University of Washington with lifelong acquaintances. My long-term goals are applying what I’ve learned in the real world and being of service to my community.
Pierre’s advice for future applicants:
Do your best in every class and every quarter.
Class of 1954 Award Recipients
2019 - 2020
Class of 2021, Community, Environment & Planning and Communication majors
Julia Jannon-Shields is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Washington. Born and raised in the Silicon Valley, Julia has become highly aware of the range of detrimental impacts that rapid development poses on underrepresented communities and the surrounding environment. As a womxn of color, Julia’s intersections inform her perspective as she navigates space and advocates for justice. These experiences have led Julia to pursue degrees in Community, Environment & Planning and Communication at the UW to address issues of environmental injustice & work towards a sustainable and equitable future. Since arriving at the University of Washington, she has immersed herself within the community through the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMAD), and various other organizations while maintaining strong academic standing. Through her academic ambitions and involvements, Julia has been recognized as part of the 2020 Husky 100, a cohort of one-hundred undergraduate and graduate students across the three UW campuses making the most of their time at the UW. She plans to continue making the most of what life has to offer by seeking opportunities that contribute to community, challenge her & further her growth. Julia hopes that her passion for advocacy, sustainability, and international unity leads her to a fulfilling career in the public sector, non-profits, and/or international organizations. She is grateful for the University of Washington for allowing her to develop the tools necessary to get there, and the Alumni Class Scholarships for their support.
Class of 2021, American Ethic Studies; Education, Communities & Organizations major
As I grow older, I have come to terms with my identity as a queer Khmer American woman, a daughter of genocide survivors and the living manifestation of my parents’ American Dream. Intergenerational trauma is an issue that uniquely affects my community in that 63% of Khmer refugees struggle with PTSD compared to 3% of the nation. Addressing this, I took part in organizing KhSA Northwest (NW) Conference. NW conference unites Khmer Student Associations across the nation to discuss our identity as Khmer Americans. This year, we had schools from across Washington, Oregon, Ohio and Massachusetts attend, culminating a total of 120+ attendees. Centered on equipping students with non-traditional healing methods that aren’t recognized by Western society, workshops included capturing your story through oral story-telling, healing through dance and healing through art.
I am Khmer American and part of the 14% to pursue a Bachelor’s degree, a living testament to my ancestors’ sacrifices. A first-generation college student, I am double-majoring in American Ethnic Studies and Education, Communities, and Organizations. With AES, I am equipped with the knowledge of the cultural groups that comprise the US and am able to examine the nuances within the education system with a critical lens. Coupled with ECO, I will take this knowledge to the next level and attain my goal to become the queer Khmer femme representation in education that I didn’t see growing up and tell our unspoken narrative. I am working towards becoming an ethnic studies teacher with an emphasis on Southeast Asian history, creating space for our stories of resilience. Committed to broader issues of social justice, I am working in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and communities of color to build a world that this generation deserves.
Class of 2021, Health Sciences; Science Technology & Society major
I am an immigrant from Vietnam and a proud, first-generation college student, who has worked hard to get to where I am today. I was raised by my single mother, and have two younger siblings, whom I have helped support. Life in middle school and high school was difficult, as I remember taking two-hour long bus rides after school, to go pick up my sister and not being able to eat dinner and start homework until about 8 or 9 at night.
My life goal since middle-school, has been to help others in every which way that I can because despite my struggles, I know that I was more fortunate than other immigrants and kids with single parents. I am who I am because my mother loved and supported me, learning to let me carve my own path and promising that she’ll walk with me throughout my journey. I was supported by a few high school teachers that believed I could be something great and knew that my future could be bright. I always said I was never “lucky” because I never received anything from luck, but rather from my determination and perseverance.
My goal is to finish graduate school from UW with a master’s degree in Public Health – Epidemiology – Global Health and with my knowledge and education, I hope to travel the world and work with different community members and leaders to improve their health and wellbeing. I want to give back to my community and give hope to children who grew up having to fight for a chance at their future. Growing up in Vietnam has helped me understand that not everyone is as lucky as I have been, so I remember to be thankful for the food in my stomach, roof over my head, and clothes on my back.
I am proud to be an advocate for immigrants, people of color, and for those that don’t think they have the power to fight anymore. My dream is that one day, quality healthcare and education around the world will be given to everyone as a right and not a privilege.
Ngoc-Vy’s tips: Accept your past and be passionate about your future. Let people hear of the struggles you’ve overcome, the accomplishments that you’ve been able to achieve, and the goals you have. You are the author of your own book, write your story with pride.
Class of 2021, Community, Environment & Planning and Political Science majors
During my time at the University of Washington, I have pursued a holistic educational experience through a diverse curriculum and extra-curricular activities. I am double majoring in Community, Environment and Planning and Political Science, with the hopes that this educational path will prepare me for a career in the built environment. While I have always held an interest in pursuing an education and career in the built environment, I also hold a great deal of passion for politics and equity. I am a person who is passionate about political involvement, a person who believes that everyone should have the ability to voice their opinion and feel as if that opinion is reflected in their community. Although my interests seem to lack overlap, I have still pursued the goal of understanding both, believing that the combination will provide me with the necessary knowledge to seek growth in city development in an equitable fashion.
Outside the classroom I have participated in campus activities such as Undergraduate Research, serving as an Orientation Leader, co-founding an RSO, serving as the lead philanthropy chair for Zeta Psi Fraternity, and mentoring men of color through the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. This upcoming school year I have the honor of serving as ASUW Student Body Vice President. I am grateful for the diverse experiences I have had so far at the University of Washington, and I am confident that I will be prepared to make a positive change in the world after my time on campus is done.
Dalton’s tips: Be sure to reach out early to references for a letter of rec
2018 - 2019
Junior, Psychology major
Since the seventh grade, I have had an interest in learning more about how different parts of someone’s life influence their behaviors. One of the first times I was really given a glimpse into this subject was in my high school introductory psychology class. After enjoying the content matter thoroughly, I decided I wanted to have a deeper understanding. During my time in the Running Start program, I took multiple psychology classes that increased not only my knowledge but also my enthusiasm about the subject matter. My favorite subdivisions at the time were Bio-psychology and Clinical Psychology.
After entering the University of Washington I was accepted into the Psychology department major and am currently exploring the different subsections of Psychology. I have taken course work concerning drugs and their influences on behavior. I plan to take abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, and a few other courses as well. These will help inform my decision on which topic I am most interested in, along with participation in conducting research.
Currently, I am working on a proposal for my own research project. This summer I will be a part of the Scan Design Innovations In Pain Research Summer Program. The lab I will be joining is in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in Harborview medical center. I am excited to continue and start being a part of these projects since they will increase the current understanding and help inform future practices pertaining to older caregivers and patients with chronic pain, respectively. I hope to gain knowledge and valuable skills through these experiences to help inform my decision on eventually applying to graduate school.
My current career plan is to receive a PhD. in Psychology. The current branches of psychology I am considering are Clinical, Neuropsychopharmacology, and Behavioral Neuroscience. After receiving my PhD I plan to become a professor at a university. Through this career, I intend to increase not only the understanding of the subject matter but also the generalization of findings by having the representation of different minority groups in sampling. I hope that my eventual work will touch and better many people’s lives by informing clinical practices.
Noelani’s advice for future applicants:
Be confident in your aspirations.
Georges Motchoffo Simo
Junior, Chemical Engineering major
I was born in Ebolowa, Cameroon. I was raised by a single mother with two older brothers. I moved to the US at the age of 18, not knowing a word of English.
My dream of all time is to become an MD/Ph.D. in Neurosurgery. I have been dreaming of becoming a researcher while working in the medical field for my very first day of middle school. I grew up thinking that college was not an option for me because of financial and family reasons. I have been working with all my being to make that dream come true since I have moved to America from learning the language to get more and more involved in research from as much as possible. I would love to go to UW MSTP program after I graduate.
After completing my Ph.D., MD and residency, I would love to take my summers off every year or so to affiliate myself with Doctors without Borders to go across the world provide care to people who have been forgotten and can’t afford care. I would love to run a lab while being a surgeon in a hospital focused on Neurosurgery. I want to run a lab in the domain of drug delivery for tumors that are not surgically removable and to pursue research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
I would love to bring more joy and hope to the black community by showing them that there is hope for them to do great things. I want to show them that they are called for greatness and that there is so much more out there for them besides being a statistic. I have seen so much potential in the youth that I would like to give whatever I can to help them accomplish their dreams just as I am accomplishing mine.
Georges’ advice for future applicants:
Be yourself, own your story and be proud of all the work that you have accomplished this far in you academic career.
2017 - 2018
Senior, Bioengineering and Neurobiology major
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.
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.
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
Diana Gil Vargas
Junior, Community, Environment & Planning 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.
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.
2015 - 2016
Miriam Ly Paclibon
Senior, Medical Anthropology and Global Health major
Miriam Ly Paclibon is a senior majoring in Medical Anthropology and Global Health. She was awarded the UW Class of 1954 Achievement Scholarship, which will help fund her autumn study abroad in Jordan and Switzerland with the School of International Training. She will spend four months in Jordan examining, first-hand, the humanitarian relief response to the refugee crisis through field visits to hospitals and refugee camps, as well as educational excursions to the World Health Organization and United Nations agencies in Switzerland. While abroad, she hopes to learn and understand the health issues that are exacerbated in crisis situations and the complex challenges in providing healthcare.
Miriam Ly’s passion for healthcare came at an early age when her father passed away from cancer. Since then, she has worked as a nursing assistant, medical assistant, and anesthesia technician in various departments and hospitals. She has also volunteered as a cultural mentor to recently resettled Bhutanese refugee families in helping them gain self-sufficiency while adjusting to the American culture and community. In return, they inspired her to help others beyond the Seattle community. In Zambia, she volunteered at an orphanage and clinic, which opened her eyes to a whole other world of structural barriers, inequities, and poverty-related diseases affecting individuals’ health and wellbeing. After returning, she created a non-profit orphanage to provide basic necessities for homeless Zambian children. Last year, in collaboration with grassroots organizations in Colombia and Guatemala, she taught basic hygiene to impoverished women. These experiences strengthened her affirmation and commitment of delivering quality healthcare to marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Miriam Ly is preparing to apply to family nurse practitioner programs. Thereafter, she plans to study nurse midwifery to teach safe birth practices to communities abroad with limited access to healthcare. This award will help provide the next steps in pursuing her goals.
Senior, Public Health and Anthropology majors
2014 - 2015
Junior, International Studies major
Kevin Celustka, a junior at the UW majoring in International Studies in the Global Health track, was awarded the UW Class of 1954 Achievement Scholarship. The Class of 1954 Scholarship will help fund Kevin’s summer study abroad IE3 Internship in South Africa. Spending five weeks in both Durban and Cape Town, Kevin will gain first hand experience in International Medicine and Global Health by shadowing physicians in urban hospitals and rural clinics. Through his immersion in South Africa’s health care systems, he hopes to gain insight to the realities of health policy in relation to South Africa’s challenges with HIV and TB. Kevin is also preparing to apply to medical school to become a physician and eventually practice medicine abroad, where he sees the opportunity for international collaboration to serve those with the greatest need. His long-term ambitions surround the intersection between international policy and health care. He hopes to work towards the realization of health care as a universal human right, by treating both patients and the underlying systems that lead to inequitable outcomes in health for marginalized populations.
During his first two years on the UW campus, Kevin has served in the Associated Students of the University of Washington through the Student Senate, first as the Administrative Assistant and currently as the Vice Speaker. He has also participated in the UW Leaders program, first as a student participant and currently as a Mentor. Kevin believes that the ASUW provides an unparalleled opportunity to contribute to the UW community and he feels that it has helped him to grow both personally and professionally while at the UW.
2013 - 2014
Junior, Public Health and Sociology major
This scholarship will help fund Juliana’s summer trip to Chile through a public and mental health program with the UW Psychology Department. Juliana sees this adventure as an opportunity to further explore my passions for mental health, human rights advocacy, and international engagement — specifically as she hones her Spanish-speaking skills.
Juliana is at her third year at UW studying public health and sociology, and minoring in Spanish. In large part because of a personal experience with losing a loved one to suicide, mental health advocacy has become one of Juliana’s most defining experiences on this campus. She is a co-founder of the undergraduate club dedicated to suicide prevention (HSPA), and classes in both of her majors have enabled her to explore this interest in mental health in more depth. HSPA’s largest project is an annual suicide awareness walk, which Juliana first helped bring to campus as a freshman. In its third year, the planning process has grown and evolved tremendously this year, and the club has an exciting new partnership with a non-profit right here on campus. All money raised this year will go directly back to our campus community. Juliana’s other involvement at UW that has strongly shaped her undergraduate experience includes participation in the UW Leaders program, and working as a Peer Adviser in Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Juliana’s future career plans are not set in stone, but post-graduation she hopes to pursue a position with the AmeriCorps VISTA program for a year. Ideally, she would be placed in a primarily Spanish-speaking community so that she can further develop her language skills while supporting and learning from the community. She has long-term interests in higher education, public policy, or non-profit work, the latter perhaps with a focus on immigrants’ rights. Juliana has confidence that what she’s learned at UW, and will continue to learn, will play a role in her future. She thinks that understanding mental health and the complexities of suicide will be valuable and will help her relate to people in any career she pursues, as well as enable her to empathize with anyone she may encounter in life, at work or otherwise.
2012 - 2013
Junior, Neurobiology major, Diversity minor
When her family first came to the United States of America in 1997 from Kumasi, Ghana, Dorender kept her head up, and did everything she could to adjust to the cultural and language differences. Her parents, attaining only high school diplomas, did not know enough English to help her with schoolwork. Of course, it was difficult but being the dedicated student that she was and continue to be, Dorender used every resource she could, including ESL classes and extra time with her teachers in order to acquire good grades. Now, as a first generation college student, Dorender has fully adopted the American culture. Over the years her true personality finally blossomed, and with this she was able to overcome her challenges.
Dorender aspires to graduate from the University of Washington with honors in the neurobiology program and a minor degree in diversity. She chose a career path in medicine because of the medical conditions that her family and friends suffered from in Ghana. This includes her aunt having a third breast in her armpit and her best friend having a bellybutton the size of a lemon. With her love for science and her love for people, Dorender would like to attain an MD degree so that she can serve both her communities here in the US and in Ghana. Being a philanthropist at heart, she has many dreams, and one of them is to sponsor women in Ghana to pursue a higher education.
2011 - 2012
Sophomore, International Studies and Law, Society, & Justice (intended) major
Philmon Haile is a global leader. His background, formative events in his early years, participation in OneWorld Now!, and his pursuit of higher education have fueled his passion to address issues of equal access to education and ensuring educational opportunities for under-represented people. Philmon, now a sophomore in college, was born in Sudan. His parents were both soldiers in the Eritrean War of Independence and like many before thm, they sought refuge in the United States. Philmon arrived in Seattle at age four. His Eritrean identity remains important to him and he remains fluent in Tigrinya. He is also fluent in Mandarin Chinese and English.
OneWorld Now! (OWN), a global leadership program for underserved high school students, caught Philmon’s attention his sophomore year at Garfield High School. Through the program, he began to study Mandarin Chinese and develop his leadership skills. He proved adept at Chinese and emerged as a promising young leader. With the support and encouragement of OWN, Philmon spent his junior year in Washington, D.C. interning and studying through the U.S. House of Representatives Page Program. His senior year of high school Philmon was awarded an OWN study abroad scholarship to a remote area outside of Anshan, China for an academic year where he attended a local high school and studied intensively for 10 hours a day, six days a week. Upon his return, Philmon shared his experienced as the keynote speaker at OWN’s Global Leadership Dinner to an audience of over 300 influential business and community leaders.
Following high school graduation, Philmon was accepted to Swarthmore College on a generous scholarship. During his time at Swarthmore, he was involved in a Chinese NGO that promotes awareness of Hansen’s disease survivors and educational issues affecting children in rural China. He received a scholarship to lead a work camp in a rural village in southern Chinese that is recovering from Hansen’s Disease. After his freshman year at Swarthmore, Philmon received a Confucius Institute (CI) Scholarship for an academic year abroad. This scholarship was a result of OWN connecting Philmon to CI to speak at an event. This led to earn another 11 months in Harbin, China spent studying Chinese literature. Upon his return from China, Philmon is transferred to the University of Washington where he’ll be focusing on educational access for under represented students.
Class of 1954 scholarship will go to support Philmon’s internship with the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Beijing this summer. He will be examining issues surrounding the Chinese macro-economy, finance, rural mobility, energy, and labor in collaboration with the team of US economist. He will leave to Beijing to begin his 3 month internship at the end of June 2012.
Philmon enjoys public speaking and inspiring others to learn world languages, study abroad, and make positive changes in the world.
Ana Valentina Humphrey
Senior, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences – Community Psychology major
Originally from Mexico City, Valentina first arrived to the United States in 2002. Although she did not know what to expect in terms of social interactions, she had mapped out a clearly defined path that she expected to follow. Valentina wanted to experience the American culture in a way that would expand her understanding of their practices of law and institutions of government.
In 2006, she became a volunteer for the Bothell Police Department. This experience allowed her to appreciate their mission and the significance of their job. She became familiar with basic aspects of law enforcement procedures, but most importantly, she found guidance and mentorship.
The University of Washington Community Psychology program, introduced her to the motivations underlying people’s behavior. She made insightful observations regarding communication as one of the most important aspects of human interactions. With this in mind, she became a Washington State Certified Spanish Interpreter and three years later she began assisting the Bellevue Police Department with criminal investigations.
Recently admitted to Seattle University Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, Valentina saw the Class of 1954 Achievement Scholarship Award as an opportunity to engage in legal research, focus on analysis of public policy, and reflect on applications of law from an interdisciplinary perspective. In the future, she looks forward to working within a federal agency that allows her to study communication patterns within the judicial system as a way to identify alternatives to ameliorate social conflict in the United States.
Thanks to the combination of her education and professional experiences, she have been exposed to a culture that values different ideas, attitudes, and beliefs, as essential elements of a progressive society. She has learned that individual moral decisions are the foundations that define the outcomes of people’s lives, and thus, the key to a successful career path.
Senior, Biology major, Global Health and Environmental Studies minor
Autumn Walker is a first generation student majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Studies and Global Health. She finds higher education to be stimulating, challenging and an extraordinary opportunity. The UW has provided a phenomenal venue for her to work towards her academic and professional goals; She actively seeks extra-curricular activities that offer experiences that support these goals. She has been actively engaged with undergraduate research within the Nemhauser Lab in the Biology Department since December 2010. She is currently working on her own research project that aims to determine the nature of protein interactions involved in lateral root formation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Her undergraduate research experience has provided her opportunities for learning about the nature of the scientific community, for communicating molecular biology, and for developing technical skills. This work, in conjunction with her course material, has provided an outstanding foundation for her future medical school education by contributing to her understanding of biochemical processes.
She also currently volunteers at Bailey-Boushay House for a second consecutive quarter of service learning. She finds service learning incredibly helpful at teaching her how to apply concepts learned in lecture to real life. These educational experiences allow her to understand not only the medical aspects of health, but the socially constructed parameters that can lead to differential health outcomes within populations. After graduation, she plans on attending medical school to become an osteopathic physician and earn a master’s degree in public health. She is interested in health system strengthening and the social and societal determinants of health that lead to differential health outcomes, especially for rural and under-served populations. Her experiences with extra-curricular activities ha e had a pronounced impact on who she is. These activities continue to provide opportunities for the development of life-long skills and societal understanding that will allow her to be an influential, innovative and inspirational physician.
2010 - 2011
Junior, Interdisciplinary Visual Arts major, Education, Learning & Society, and Chinese minor
Growing up in extremely diverse South Seattle has helped shape my goals in life. Attending urban schools had its disadvantages. The lack of resources my school was able to provide for its students was a setback in my K-12 education. But I have had the continuous support from my family and was able to overcome the constant disadvantages I faced in school. I found that the support I received from my family helped me do well in school and helped made up for what was lacking in school. However, not all students have the sport at home that I was lucky to have. I am now striving top become an elementary school teacher in a high need school, and I want to help eliminate the disadvantages young minority students still face today. In addition, I want to give students support both inside and outside of school to help them overcome their circumstances.
Seung Hee Lee
Senior, International Studies and Economics major
Seung Hee Lee’s family moved to the USA when she was 11 years old. It was hard at first to adjust to the new environment, but Seung has pushed herself to work hard, always working towards the goals she set. Her goal after graduating is to work for the UN or other international organization, working for the cause of solving international problems, to make a positive change in the world. Seung has always believed that education opens doors of opportunities. She is sincerely grateful to be able to study here at the University of Washington, with such generous help from the community. Seung will never forget all the aid she received from this community, and hopes to give back to help others.
2009 - 2010
Comparative History of Ideas and Philosophy majors
2008 - 2009
Senior, Anthropology and History majors
I am primarily interested in ancient Mediterranean history, specifically in the ways in which the fields of History and Archaeology can be utilized in tandem in order to create a deeper understanding of past events and peoples. This late summer/ early fall I will be participating on my first archaeological excavation at Ostia, the ancient harbor of Rome! I am currently studying Italian for this trip.
Non academically, I love cats, seagulls, and all types of ice cream. I am looking forward to true Italian gelato!