Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

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.

2020-2021 Scholars

Leah Davis

Class of 2023, Marine Biology major

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the Puget Sound, and I always felt a strong connection to the water. Then, when Sea Star Wasting Syndrome first began, a group of scientists on a local beach noticed me observing them and invited me to help with small tasks. This began my interest in studying marine creatures as a career. Later, when I went on my first Tribal Canoe Journey, I was taught about the medicine in water. It further motivated me to understand and protect the life the ocean holds.

At the University of Washington, I joined the Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles Club (UWROV) at the University of Washington which designs, builds, markets, and competes with our ROV in a competition called the Marine Advanced Technology Education competition. Being a part of UWROV helped me understand the incredible role technology and engineering can play in conservation and made me realize I want to be part of that future. I also became a mentor for Makah tribal fifth graders in the Riverways Program. As a mentor, I shared my experience in marine science with these young students. By sharing the knowledge I have about aquatic environments and the threats they face, I could help inspire the next generation of ocean advocates.

In my field, I have worked as a volunteer lab assistant in the Northwest Fisheries Science Center studying harmful algal blooms, as a teaching assistant for a Western Washington University Capstone Marine Conservation course, and as a volunteer data analyst for Washington State University studying salmonid genes and their paralogs since coming to the University of Washington. More recently, I have also joined a research team at the University of Washington studying pacific herring.

In my career, I hope to continue to explore my wide range of research interests while using my position as a scientist to promote representation in the marine sciences.

Leah’s near and long-term goals:

In the near future, I would like to pursue field-oriented research which, up to this point, I have not had opportunities to participate in. After I earn my undergraduate degree, I plan to attend graduate school to study fisheries biology. I intend to use my education to work with Indigenous tribes inside and outside of the United States.

Leah’s advice for future applicants:

Reflect on and share what life circumstances, cultural values, and other non-academic factors influenced you to pursue your path. They are just as important as your academics are.

Meron Girma

Class of 2021, Medical Anthropology and Global Health major

The barriers Meron has overcome as a first-generation, African American student in addition to her personal adversity exemplifies her strength, hard work ethic and perseverance. Being the first one in her family to attend college, she has become intensely committed and determined to achieve higher education to further her knowledge in Medicine and Global Health. Meron is a senior at the University of Washington, pursuing a degree in Medical Anthropology and Global Health with a minor in African Studies. During her sophomore and junior year she spent six months traveling several countries in Southern and Eastern Africa to learn about international health and conduct her own research project. She spent three months in Ethiopia, working alongside the Federal Ministry of Health to investigate health inequalities that would influence policy and practice implementation. She is interested in ethnographic and qualitative studies to look at healthcare accessibility for marginalized groups through all facets of social, economic, and cultural factors of human health. She hopes to continue her research as she pursues an MPH and MD. As a global health professional she wants to work on the ground with disadvantaged communities to address their individual and community needs and promote equitable health policy and practice in a way that is fair and representative.

Meron’s near and long-term goals:

After graduating from UW I will be pursing my Masters in Public Health at Yale University as a Hortsmann Scholar. I intend to continue my research on health disparities and stigmas that prevent individuals of color from accessing health care. Ultimately, I hope to use my research experience to inform my practice as a physician to further intersectional equity and representation.

Meron’s advice for future applicants:

My tips for future students who plan on applying to this scholarship or others is to be willing to be open and vulnerable. Don’t be scared to voice your story and accomplishments, you have made it this far for a reason and now you just need to showcase that.

Stella LeClair

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.

Sam Jemuelle Quiambao

Class of 2022, Drama: Performance and Informatics: Human-Computer Interaction majors

Sam Jemuelle Quiambao is a first-generation college student who grew up in the Philippines. He moved to Seattle at the age of 11. Sam intended on pursuing Computer Science at University of Washington after he graduated from South Seattle College, however, he did not get admitted. After facing numerous rejections in competitive majors and feeling astray, he found his passion within the School of Drama. The major made him feel confident when he took drama classes and participated in multiple theatre productions. As he continued to navigate the theatre world, he noticed how inaccessible theatre is to marginalized groups.

At the same time, Sam continued to have interest in technology and decided to minor in Informatics until he got accepted to the major in Winter 2021. Within the Information School (iSchool), he discovered his passion in UX design, and realized that he could combine the interdisciplinary skills he learned in drama and informatics to help in progressing accessibility in the theatre industry using user-centered design thinking. As Executive Director of Undergraduate Theater Society, he, along with other student leaders, planned processes that would enable UW students easier access to undergraduate theater. His work in the UW School of Drama also contributed to his knowledge in theater administration.

Sam is grateful to receive this scholarship as it will help continue his education.

Sam’s near and long-term goals:

His future goals include designing a product that will allow easier access to education for those interested in theatre, as well as informing the general population about the benefits of learning theatrical skills and how it applies not only to theatre, but also in all industries.

Sam’s advice for future applicants:

Create a narrative and tell a story that you are passionate about. This can be about your education, your work experiences, your extracurricular activities, or anything about yourself. You are unique. Tell YOUR story.

Class of 1957 Award Recipients

2019 - 2020

Hana Arega

Class of 2020, Public Health-Global Health major

I was born and raised in a rural part of Ethiopia. I immigrated to the United States at the age of 11 to purse higher education, although, I barely knew when to respond with a “Yes” or a “No” to a basic English question at that time. I have wanted to work in the healthcare field for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Ethiopia, I aspired to be a physician because illness and death were too commonplace. When I finally graduated high school and had the opportunity to attend the University of Washington, I pursued my goal of being a doctor through various programs.

In 2017, The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) helped me discover my passion for Public-Global health. It helped me see that real change occurs when I understand how health disparities are created and maintained in communities. To get first-hand exposure and better understand the topics discussed in my public health classes, I participated in a study abroad program in Ethiopia that focused on maternal and child health in the summer of 2019. I analyzed the successes and challenges of the Ethiopian healthcare delivery system while also visiting multiple hospitals and clinics in Addis Ababa and other rural regions of the country. Going back to Ethiopia to study the healthcare system reminded me of what ignited my passion for pursuing medicine at a young age and my desire to dismantle conditions that created challenges to live a healthy life in my community. In spring of 2020, I will be graduating as first generation student with my B.S. in Public Health-Global Health and continuing my goal of attending medical school to obtain my M.D. and MPH degrees.

Hana’s Tips: Throughout my undergraduate study, I never thought I was deserving of scholarships when I compared myself to my peers so many times I just did not try. Now looking back, I wish someone told me to not minimize my accomplishments and to be confident in my abilities. So when you apply for scholarships, share your story, your passion and your goals and don’t feel like you have to be someone else to be recognized. Even rejection is progress.


Kailey Coronado

Class of 2021, Education, Communities & Organization major

My name is Kailey Coronado and I am a third year student at the University of Washington in the College of Education. I am originally from San Diego, CA and have been living in Washington for school for the past three years. I come from a large family that I am very close with, who inspire me everyday to work hard, be myself and advocate for others. Both of my parents work in education and have instilled in me that value that education has, but also how it can perpetuate the inequalities we see in our society. I have always been passionate about social justice, and I believe educational equity and reform is the foundation for that. This year I’ve been proud to work with UW Dream Project as a College and Career Readiness Assistant, where I work at a middle school educating students about postsecondary pathways and implementing projects that empower them to pursue higher education. After I graduate, I want to work more in college access for underrepresented youth, and eventually go to graduate school to continue my work in education equity and reform. I am honored to receive this scholarship as it will help me continue in my education and pursue my goals to create a more equitable society.

Kailey’s Tips: Don’t be afraid to tell your story! Vulnerability is strength – but it is also good to focus on one or two specific things about yourself and how that applies to your goals.


Wingo Tse

Class of 2020, Education, Communities & Organization major

I want to become a teacher in a dual program elementary school in Washington State, preferably teaching the Chinese language. In the future, I plan to start a school for children and adults with open access to the community. Chinese languages and culture should be sustained by enforcing moral principles: integrity, dignity, respect, and trust. At the formative age, young children benefit from learning Chinese heritage that consists of Chinese language, art, and history. As an educator, language instruction is valuable for learners from all races. The Chinese prefer to stay connected with the Chinese community. Non-Chinese can remove language barriers to connect with Chinese and learn moral principles and ethical values that are important to community building.

Residing with my family in Bellevue, I plan to stay in Washington State to pursue my Master’s degree in teaching program with a focus on bilingual education at the University of Washington. As I want to work with youth beyond the age of eight and adult learners in a variety of community contexts, I am now pursuing my undergraduate degree in Education, Communities and Organizations program. I realize the educational needs of young children who mostly come from diverse races and ethnicities.

During this academic year, I have been working as a bilingual data collector for a research team to administer a standardized test with preschool-aged children at the Seattle Public School District on a one-to-one basis. Testing their vocabulary skills and executive abilities, I am excited to engage with the preschool children whose home language is Mandarin or Cantonese. Respecting their cultural values in a social context, I advocate equitable education to embrace for inclusion and diversity.

Wingo’s Tips: Have a strong passion in learning and pursuing your educational and career goals. Engage with interactions in class activities. Collaborate your ideas with classmates in team projects. Connect with academic advisors and mentors to support you during struggling time. Express your concerns to reach out for resources at the UW community.


2018 - 2019

John Buffalo

Junior, Mechanical Engineering major

I was raised in a small coastal town outside of Rome as the first-born son of Italo-American parents. From an early age, I had a strong desire to positively influence those around me and I was inspired by leaders of technological innovation around the world. In order to grow into a change-maker, I immigrated to Seattle as an exchange student where I first absorbed the American cultural values of meritocracy and equal access to opportunity that I felt were missing in the Italian workplace. My family relocated to Los Angeles the following year where my parents each undertook two jobs to give my three younger siblings and I the opportunity to pursue higher education as US residents and follow our dreams. This daily reminder of their sacrifices has given me the drive to uncover my passion for engineering as a framework for creating novel solutions to complex problems and benefiting others through them. I have since chosen to study Mechanical Engineering at UW to build an engineering toolset that allows me to synthesize knowledge from multiple fields such as structures, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, system dynamics and apply it to any industry. This drive to challenge myself and help others has led to three main growth experiences: on the University of Washington Hyperloop team, at SpaceX, and in Dr. Salviato’s Multiscale Analysis research lab. These experiences have shaped my career goal to lead the development and production of next-generation spacecraft structures enabling space travel to anywhere in the Solar System, which I’ve recognized as my venue for making a positive difference in the world.

John’s Tips for Future Applicants:
When writing purpose essays/personal statements describing your academic merit through the activities you undertake on campus and how they are relevant to your goals, follow this format:

  • Intro: Give context/background pre-UW and establish your ultimate career/life goal (your point A where you started and your point B where you want to end up and what impact it will have on others)
  • Body: Describe the current activities you’re undertaking at UW in separate paragraphs and how they help you grow in leadership, engineering, research, industry, service towards your ultimate goal (show how you’ve headed towards your point B)
  • Conclusion: Describe how the scholarship would increase your pace or allow you to make a jump towards point B by eliminating financial or other burdens, providing access to mentors, etc. (highlight the delta increase that receiving the scholarship would grant you).

Kiss’Shonna Curtis

Second Year, Psychology and Education, Community, and Organizations majors

Kiss’Shonna Curtis is currently in her second academic year at the University of Washington. Upon being enrolled at UW, most of her extracurricular activities were service-oriented. She was extensively involved in volunteer clubs and programs during her high school career and had no plans of stopping when applying to the UW. During high school, she was involved in Key Club, a service internship through her church, and an elementary after school program called HOPE club. She realized her love for education at that after-school program, and specifically her passion for increasing equity in the educational system during her time at the University of Washington. Kiss’Shonna’s advisor introduced her to the ECO (Education, Community, and Organization) degree program after hearing about her experience working at HOPE club. Through the classes that she’s taken towards completing the ECO degree, she has been exposed to different social issues and ways of thinking about engaging with communities. The ECO degree is centered in asset-based community development and working alongside communities to bring lasting and equitable change and progress. She is also on track to double major in psychology to eventually pursue a career as a family counselor and correctional psychologist, where she hopes to keep applying an asset-based lens in this line of work.

Kiss’Shonna’s first quarter at UW, she was accepted into a service-oriented fellowship. The Ellis Fellowship focuses on developing leaders that are committed to service and establishing relationships with the local Seattle community. She is currently in the process of applying to be a volunteer within a jail in Thurston County. This scholarship seeks students that enrich themselves and society, and Kiss’Shonna believes that her current and expanding experiences here at the University of Washington demonstrate that she is committed to enriching both her own life and the lives around her.

Kiss’Shonna’s Tips for Future Applicants:
My tips for future students who plan on applying to this scholarship or others is to begin thinking about letter of recommendation writers long before the scholarship deadline, and give your writers at least two weeks to write the letters. Also be sure to think about your trajectory beyond UW and how your experiences that you are engaging in now can be relevant to you later.


2017 - 2018

Melisa 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

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 Tran

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

Jae Kim

Junior, Social Welfare major

Jae Kim

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.


2015 - 2016

Aysha Ayub

Junior, Biology major

Aysha Ayub

Aysha Ayub is a junior majoring in Biology. Living in Pakistan for several years exposed her to problems in developing countries, one being inadequate medical services. Aysha realized she wanted to be a doctor after doing an injection procedure at the age of 11. Moreover, being heir to a diabetic family, she has been the ‘baby doctor’ of the family. Her career aspiration is to travel to remote areas around the world and cure the disadvantaged communities. She looks forward to changing the perspective of medicine from a hospital to a globalized approach.

Aysha finished her Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) O levels at Pakistan. She enrolled at Highline College when she was 17 and received the Biology Exemplary Award for academic excellent students in the Biology program. Aysha also worked as a peer-facilitator at Highline College and discovered herself as a motivational figure. After transferring to the University of Washington, she got involved in research in a Biochemistry Ophthalmology lab at UW Medicine. She assists with methods to study controlled Glucose Metabolic Pathways in retinal cells. Aysha is interested to learn about human biology and is fascinated by nature’s molecular wonders. She plans to apply to medical school and earn an MD in Pediatrics to accomplish her goals.

Along with her education, Aysha also mentors her siblings and assists with her father’s business. She loves to volunteer at Swedish Hospital and her favorite part is talking to patients. Her favorite activity at the University of Washington was being part of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) where she feels spiritually uplifted and loved by her friends. In her free time, Aysha likes to spend time with family and go on road trips.


Sarah Yu

Junior, International Studies, Computer Science, and Economics majors

Sarah Yu

Sarah Yu is in her third year majoring in International Studies, Computer Science and Economics along with interdisciplinary and departmental honors. Her interests are in using technology as a vehicle for social empowerment and economic mobility in developing countries and hopes to pursue graduate school for these interests. As a part of the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) lab, Sarah has participated in the Digital Financial Services Project researching ways to accelerate the secure and culturally relevant development and deployment of digital banking solutions in developing regions. In this capacity, she has been interested in working at the intersection of the respective academic disciplines to work towards financial inclusion in resource-constrained environments. In the past, Sarah has also worked as a Microsoft Global Research Fellow researching the cybersecurity climate in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as completed internships in government relations, corporate finance, and sustainability consulting.

Outside of academics, Sarah has participated in her communities as a member of the local American Red Cross Board of Directors, where she has worked with the regional CEO on implementing a government relations department with the support of a Jackson-Munro Public Service Fellowship. She has served the past two years as President for the Jackson School Student Association and will be the incoming Chair of the Association of Computing Machinery Women for her final year. By the time she graduates, she will have participated in (too) many study abroad programs ranging from studying the surrealism movement, to learning about art as a form of political and social activism, and many in between. Sarah hopes to one day hold a Guinness World Record (but unsure for what).


2014 - 2015

Marii Beshir

Sophomore, intended Finance major

Marii Beshir

Marii Beshir is currently a sophomore at the University of Washington, planning to major in Finance. She grew up in a predominately immigrant neighborhood where a majority of families started their own businesses, which sparked her interest in business. In high school, Marii was a part of the Future Business Leaders of America club and DECA. The summer before freshman year at UW, she participated in the Business Bridge program, which narrowed her interests to finance and accounting. She is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants and the Association of Black Business Students.

In the future, Marii plans on working for an investment banking firm. In addition, she plan on providing consulting services to local entrepreneurs. The previous summer she had an amazing opportunity to begin building the professional skills needed to accomplish these goals through an internship at Boeing in the Financial Operations division. During the internship, she shadowed each financial analyst and learned about the responsibilities she would have as a full time employee. The development of excel skills led to multiple projects that added value to her team. Completed projects were then presented to the Flight Services executive board, the CFO of Flight Services Finance, and the CFO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, which sharpened her communication and presentation skills.

Attended Goldman Sachs Women’s Leadership Camp gave Marii the opportunity to pursue a personal goal. Awareness of the challenges women face in gaining a foothold in the male dominated field of finance made the conference especially meaningful. She met and collaborated with outstanding young women pursuing goals similar. Networking with professionals across all divisions of the firm, Marii was able to gain a better understanding of the plethora of opportunities a future in finance makes possible.


Jamie Nunez

Junior, Bioengineering major

Jamie Nunez

Jamie Nunez, majoring in Bioengineering and minoring in microbiology here at the University of Washington, was also selected for the Class 1957 Scholar Award. Her time at the UW has been priceless since it has helped her grow as a student but also as a person. Jamie is currently a math tutor at the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE). She has also had the amazing opportunity to participate in research and outreach. These experiences helped her understand what it means to be a leader as well as a team member, an increasingly more important the closer she get to beginning her career.

After graduation, she plans to work at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington. This will help her experience research life outside of the academic environment and to ensure the choice of the right career path. Jamie then plans to attend medical school and specialize in pathology. Pathology has become more interesting as a result of a research project that focuses on understanding the initiation and progression of bacterial endocarditis, a disease where bacteria are able to form a biofilm in the heart. This, along with past microbiology courses, has really sparked her interest in the field that explores the interface between bacteria and human cells. She is excited to see what the future holds!


2013 - 2014

Siyu Lu

Senior, Business major

Siyu Lu

Siyu Lu is a senior at the University of Washington Foster School of Business and works toward a double major in Accounting and International Business. She grew up in Beijing, China, and moved to the U.S. at the age of 17. Due to a difficult family life and her self-identity as an LGBTQ ally, Siyu was disowned. While struggling with homelessness in high school, Siyu became aware of her interest and talents in economics and fiscal planning. With the intent to become a financial service professional, Siyu started her higher education journey at Edmonds Community College. As a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, as well as an Honors Program participant, Siyu represented Edmonds Community College on the All-Washington Academic Team in 2012.

Siyu’s goals include obtaining a Certified Public Accountant license, succeeding as a financial service professional, and founding her own financial literacy program that teaches personal finances and makes financial services accessible to everyone.

Last year, as a proud UW Lavin Entrepreneurship Program scholar as well as Dempsey Undergraduate Fellow, Siyu co-founded and has served as CFO for Out of the Ordinary (OOTO) Children’s Book Series, a non-profit organization that develops educational tools in support of underserved nontraditional family structures, such as LGBTQ couples, single parents, and adoption families.


2012 - 2013

Margaux Phinney

Senior, Biochemistry and Chemistry majors


2011 - 2012

Kevin Braun

Junior, Material Science & Engineering: Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering major

So far in my three years at the University of Washington, I have taken advantages of numerous extra-curricular activities affiliated with the university and with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. These activities outside of the classroom have given me invaluable experience with composite materials, what I believe to be my life’s interest. Some examples of these activities that have been influential on my future goals are SAMPE (a national composite materials organization), a composites research group in the MSE department, and engineering public outreach. However, not all of my experiences have been related to engineering; I am also currently the vice president of Chi Psi Fraternity, have participated in a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico, compete in a number of intramural sports, and have volunteered with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Food Lifeline. This range of experiences have allowed me to create a balanced lifestyle, not purely focused on academic merit, but representative of my professional plans in the future.

Two career paths currently interest me. One involves working with nanocomposite structures to progress the established field of composite materials, with the hope of developing a new class of composites for use in the aerospace industry. The other is the emerging field of nanomedicine, in which the objective is to molecularly engineer drug-carrying composite nanoparticles in the hope of one day curing seemingly invincible diseases such as cancer. I know either path I choose to pursue will allow me to work on the cutting edge of today’s technology, and that both will open new opportunities for the future in their respective fields. The extra-curricular activities I have chosen to pursue have exposed me to these opportunities and I will continue to work hard every day with the hope of one day joining one of these fields and changing the world.


Dorender Dankwa

Junior, Neurobiology major

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.


2010 - 2011

Dylan Ward

Drama: Performance and Comparative History of Ideas major


2009 - 2010

Garrett Strain

International Studies and Economics majors


2008 - 2009

Crystal Kiewert

Biochemistry major