Each year the various schools and colleges select a student or students to lead their degree candidates in the procession at the University of Washington’s Commencement Ceremony. These students are called the gonfalonieres because they carry the school’s gonfalon, a banner that hangs down from a crosspiece and bears that school’s name and symbol. The gonfaloniere was a prestigious post in Italian medieval and Renaissance communities. Each of our gonfalonieres has compiled a record of outstanding achievement at the University and is worthy of special recognition. We think when you hear their stories you’ll understand why their schools selected them for this distinct honor.
The Graduate School
Mateo Banegas – Mr. Banegas is graduating with his Ph.D. in Health Services. Originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico, he decided to pursue a career as a cancer researcher after his internship at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with his mentor, Dr. Beti Thompson, in 2005. As a cancer researcher, he gets to help reduce the burden placed on families affected by cancer. Mr. Banegas has received many awards including the Gilbert S. Omenn Award for Academic Excellence, AcademyHealth/AETNA Minority Scholars Award, the National Hispanic Science Network Scholars Award, and two AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Awards. After graduation, Mr. Banegas will be moving to Washington D.C. He was awarded the Cancer Prevention Post-doctoral Fellowship from the National Cancer Institute, which will begin in mid-June.
Natasha Naomi Jones – Ms. Jones is graduating with a Ph.D. in Technical Communication. Originally from Augusta, GA, she began her doctoral degree at the University of Washington in 2007 after discovering her passion for teaching at the university level. As a Ph.D. student, Ms. Jones has taught four different courses for the HCDE department, served as an instructor for the Professional and Organizational Development program, and managed the Engineering Writing Center. In 2011, Ms. Jones received the University of Washington Excellence in Teaching award, a university-wide award presented to only two graduate students each year. She has accepted an assistant professor position at a research university in New Mexico and will continue her career in teaching and research there in the fall, where she will work to expand her interests in activism and communication. As a single mother of a young daughter, Ms. Jones hopes that her work and scholarship will inspire and empower young women to seek education as a pathway for creating positive personal, professional, and public change.
Anne B. Broache – Ms. Broache is graduating with a Master of Urban Planning. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Ms. Broache has long been fascinated with what makes cities desirable places to live, work, and play. She decided to pursue this interest in the Master of Urban Planning program at University of Washington after studying at Northwestern University as an undergraduate. Her core interest lies in the intersection of urban planning and health, with a special focus on strategies to make walking and bicycling safer and more attractive transportation options. In recognition of her interest in a transportation planning career, Ms. Broache received the 2011 Catelin Williams Memorial Scholarship from the Department of Urban Design and Planning and also the 2012 Helene M. Overly Memorial Graduate Scholarship from the Women’s Transportation Seminar Puget Sound chapter. After graduating, she hopes to work on projects in Seattle and elsewhere that help to give all people a wider range of effective transportation options.
Julieanna Leung – Ms. Leung is graduating with a Master of Science in Information Management. She was born in Hong Kong, but raised in Seattle. The Information School has a great culture and she loved the philosophy of designing technology with a human-centric perspective. This is why she continued her educational advancement by joining a graduate program from the Information School. Although Ms. Leung enjoyed the learning aspect of the degree, the most valuable part to her was that she gained lifelong friends in her MSIM cohort. Ms. Leung served as the 2011-2012 Public Relations Officer for the Association of Information Management Students organization and she plans to host a Website Usability Workshop with her peers at the 2012 Geek Girl Convention.
The College of Arts and Sciences
Jacob Baudin – Mr. Baudin is receiving a Bachelor of Science with a triple major in Neurobiology, Biochemistry, and Biology, with a minor in Chemistry. He is also receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. While focusing on science, he took an introductory ethics course, which caused him to develop an interest in philosophy. At the University of Washington, Mr. Baudin has performed undergraduate research regarding molecular mechanisms of neural plasticity. Next year he will be matriculating at the University of Washington School of Medicine’s MD/PhD program, where he plans to study medicine and complete a Ph.D., maintaining a focus on neuroscience.
Renee Brittany Carson – Ms. Carson is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and a minor in Disability Studies. Both of these fields have helped foster her strong sense of social justice and a desire to work towards eliminating identity-based discrimination. Starting in her junior year, she began a yearlong internship with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. Her position worked to ensure the preservation of reproductive rights in the state in addition to comprehensive sex-education in Washington public schools. After graduating, Ms. Carson plans to continue her social science education at the graduate level and envisions herself working at a non-profit dedicated to underserved communities. She would like to thank her family for helping make her time at the University of Washington possible.
Molly Gasperini – Ms. Gasperini is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology: Molecular, Cellular, & Development, with a Minor in Diversity. She has loved biology since her first high school bio class in her hometown of Shoreline, WA. For the past two years, she has been conducting research of a mutation in the DNA of a patient with schizophrenia. Ms. Gasperini has presented her research at the American Society for Human Genetics 2011 Conference and the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium. While at the University of Washington, she was President of the UW branch of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honors Society. Ms. Gasperini has also received a Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Scholarship, the Levinson Emerging Scholar Award, the Biology Department Scholarship, the Roman Undergraduate Genome Sciences Scholarship, the Undergraduate Conference Travel Award, and a DeEtte McAuslan Stuart Scholarship. After graduation, Ms. Gasperini will be working in a lab at Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital Boston that researches muscular dystrophy and autism, before pursuing graduate school in human genetics.
Sara Hefny – Ms. Hefny is graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations. Originally from Alexandria, Egypt, she relocated to Shoreline, WA, as a child. She chose to go into Near Eastern studies because of the connection with her heritage and her goal to help bridge understanding between Western countries and those of the Middle East. During her time at the University of Washington, Ms. Hefny was an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Walter Andrews and the Ottoman Texts Archive Project and presented her research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. She also had the opportunity to spend her senior year in Rome, Italy, as a student intern at the University of Washington’s Rome Center. Her experience with the University of Washington in Seattle and in Rome has made her appreciate all the amazing opportunities afforded to students at a globally-recognized, research-based university. As Ms. Hefny begins the next stage of her life in Washington, D.C., she will look back fondly on her time at the UW and will always be proud to be a Husky.
Brendan Lopez – Mr. Lopez is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology. He transferred to the University of Washington from the University of Michigan during his freshman year. He was drawn to the small program’s intensive course load that focuses on current research and clinical topics in the field as well as the ability to form personal relationships with classmates and advisors. Mr. Lopez was also a member of the football team from 2008-2012 and played as the team’s starting long snapper for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He was named to the 1st team Pac-12 All-Academic team for 2010 and 2011 seasons. Next year, Mr. Lopez will attend the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry and while his undergraduate degree is not directly related, he hopes the rigor and organization of the courses has prepared him for this next step. In preparation for dental school he had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in the Somerman Laboratory in the Oral Biology department where it taught him about dental anatomy, histology, research techniques, and writing papers.
William Ray – Mr. Ray is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, and a Minor in History. When the financial crisis happened, he found that he was drawn to the study of economics because it gave him a good sense of how the world operated. Economics has a heavy basis in math as well, and as Mr. Ray began to take more economics courses, he discovered that he enjoyed math for its own sake and decided to graduate with a double-degree in economics and math. Mr. Ray has sung for the President of Latvia with the University Chorale, tutored students in public speaking in the Communications Department, and wrote for a wide audience at the Daily.
Vanessa Muana Stone – Ms. Stone is receiving Bachelor of Arts in Dance Studies & English. Born in the Philippines, Ms. Stone and her brother became the first members of their family to go to college. Her strong interest in history, arts, and research led her to major in English Literature and Dance Studies. Ms. Stone was the Executive Editor for the Washington Undergraduate Law Review with work as an Assistant Director at the Resource Center and a volunteer for the King County Court Watch. Launching her fifth and final year at UW, she will be presenting her Dance Studies research project at the 2012 Undergraduate Research Symposium. After graduation, Ms. Stone will be working as a Legal File Clerk for Emery Reddy Law Firm. She plans to volunteer as a Victim Advocate for the King County Domestic Violence Unit of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and attend law school in the fall of 2013.
College of Built Environments
Easton Leigh Branam – Ms. Branam is graduating with a Masters of Landscape Architecture. Originally from the small town Bigfork, Montana, her passion for the rural landscape remains her greatest motivation. After being commissioned into the US Army and spending 12 months as the Commercialization Officer on Air Base Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, Ms. Branam found her life’s work. Three years ago she enrolled as a graduate student in the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Washington. She has learned that good designers are artists, communicators, and facilitators of community input who learn from local people and value ecological context. Ms. Branam’s goal is to start a non-profit or public service agency and to use her design skills as a Landscape Architect to assist communities as they struggle to gain greater control over the pace and pattern of their development.
Foster School of Business
Monica Renae Ittes – Ms. Ittes is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Originally from Sammamish, Washington, Ms. Ittes chose an accounting degree because she enjoys it and for the potential career paths available to those with accounting backgrounds. She has enjoyed learning from the accounting professors at the Foster School of Business and being involved with the business school as a whole. While studying at the University of Washington, she was fortunate to have the chance to spend a summer in Paris, France on the “Jazz in Paris” study abroad program. This summer Ms. Ittes will be working for Deloitte in Seattle and Sao Paulo, Brazil for a global internship. Next year she will be pursuing a master’s degree in professional accounting from the University of Washington.
Chelsey Judith White – Ms. White is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, concentration in Accounting. Born and raised in Renton, Washington, Ms. White discovered her passion for accounting through a high school course. She believes that the best part of being a business major is the connections she has made with her peers and the wonderful Foster School of Business faculty and staff through group work, case competitions, and student organizations. Her most rewarding experience was holding a position as a teaching fellow for the accounting department, which allowed her to learn and grow a tremendous amount. Ms. White plans to sit for the CPA Exam this summer, and will be working as an auditor in the Financial Services Office of Ernst & Young in New York City this fall.
School of Dentistry
Alexandria C. Brent – Ms. Brent is receiving a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Born and raised in Seattle, Ms. Brent knew at age 14 that dentistry was in her future after spending 2 years in braces and enjoying every minute of it. She continued on that path, which brought her to the University of Washington as an undergraduate and graduate student. During her time at the University of Washington, Ms. Brent was involved in the Delta Delta Sigma Pre-Dental Club where she served as Head Social Chair and Student Council President. Ms. Brent has received the Jack E. Nichols Leadership Achievement Award, the Maurice J. Hickey Scholarship and the Psi Omega Scholarship. After graduation, Ms. Brent plans on moving to Loma Linda, California, where she will be working as an associate dentist and pursuing a position at the University of Loma Linda Dental School. She’d like to thank her friends, family, and best friend for their support over the years.
Tory L. Silvestrin – Mr. Silvestrin is receiving a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. He was always fascinated with working with his hands and cognitive abilities in an intertwined way. Healthcare was a passion of Mr. Silvestrin and dentistry allowed the perfect interplay of working with his hands and helping to contribute to the health of his community. Mr. Silvestrin received many awards, including: being ranked #1 in his dental class, completing two summer interdisciplinary research projects with Dr. Mark Drangsholt, earning the Earl C Maston Award for Excellence, being the Psi Omega Scholar recipient twice, receiving the Ben and Betty Zukor Scholarship, being awarded the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Scholarship, being inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon dental honor society as a lifetime member, and being named the American Association of Endodontists Educator Fellowship Award recipient. He plans to become a full-time post-doctoral endodontic educator, having earned the sole American Association of Endodontists Educator Fellowship Award in 2012. Mr. Silvestrin will attend Loma Linda University for his post-doctoral studies as the inaugural resident in a combined endodontics—implantology residency and will concurrently pursue a Masters in Education.
College of Education
Sara Lynn Lopez – Ms. Lopez is graduating with Doctor of Philosophy in Education: Education Leadership & Policy Studies. Her research within the program relates to the professional development of collegiate athletic coaches, with the purpose of enriching the student-athlete experience. Working as Co-Director with the College of Education’s Center for Leadership in Athletics, she manages a number of innovative efforts, including the Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership M.Ed. program. After growing up as an avid boater and competing in rowing during college, Ms. Lopez has coached almost continuously over the years, most recently with Conibear Rowing Club. After 15 years in the field, Sara returned to the UW for a Master’s degree and now Ph.D. It’s been a challenge to pursue the degree, but well-worth the effort and achievable with tremendous support and encouragement from family and friends. Ms. Lopez is eager to continue developing CLA efforts to expand educational experiences beyond the classroom and better prepare leaders in sports to maximize the positive impact of athletics.
College of Engineering
Benjamin W. Dulken – Mr. Dulken is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering. Originally from Munich, Germany, Mr. Dulken moved to the United States as a child and grew up in Sammamish, WA. He chose to major in bioengineering because he felt it provided a unique opportunity to apply the principles of mathematics and engineering to directly impact the health and well-being of individuals. Mr. Dulken was a researcher in the lab of Professor Suzie Pun, and investigated the use of nanoparticle encapsulated chemotherapeutics to target solid tumors, and also worked to develop a hydrogel which can provide controlled release of ototherapeutics to the inner ear. After graduation, Mr. Dulken will begin the combined MD/PhD program at Stanford University. He hopes to one day work as an academic physician, both seeing patients and conducting research, working to address the most important problems in medicine from both a clinical and investigative perspective.
Emily Hollenbeck – Ms. Hollenbeck is& graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. The interdisciplinary mix of math and science is what initially drew Ms. Hollenbeck to chemical engineering and she has since found a passion for the cutting-edge research happening in the field. As an undergraduate, she has worked with Professor Samson Jenekhe, researching new semiconducting organic materials for use in electronic devices. Ms. Hollenbeck recently presented this work at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego. She has been named a Mary Gates Honors Scholar, a NASA Space Grant Scholar, and a Society of Women Engineers Outstanding Undergraduate Female. She also participated in the Honors Study Abroad Program in Rome and Istanbul. Last summer she worked as a chemical engineering intern with the Dow Chemical Company. In the fall, Ms. Hollenbeck will be pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, where she hopes to stay in the realm of materials-related research, particularly with applications in renewable energies.
College of the Environment
Harrison Fano Ray Togia – Mr. Togia is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Space Sciences. Originally from Tacoma, he came to the University of Washington with the intent of pursuing a degree in civil engineering. He began taking elective courses, where he found his passion for the environmental sciences. Earth and Space Sciences has allowed him to combine his love for sciences and passion for the Samoan culture. Mr. Togia completed an internship with Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, a ranking member of the Congressional Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He became a McNair Scholar, which provided the opportunity to pursue independent research focused on analyzing the geophysical attributes of poverty regions in the United States. Mr. Togia plans to continue his education in the master’s program in geological physics at the University of Hawai’i. He would like to thank the Lord for all of His blessings, but also his family, his friends, and his professors for their support along this path.
Christopher Floyd Mathews – Mr. Mathews is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Informatics. Originally from California, he was intrigued by the dynamic nature of his program and the information world, pursuing a variety of specialized topics including social entrepreneurship, information security, and user research. As the President of the Informatics Undergraduate Association, Mr. Mathews forwarded initiatives to encourage the personal and professional development of the student community within the Information School. He has maintained excellence throughout his academic career, presenting research in the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and earning the William E Henry Scholarship. After developing his professional career, Mr. Mathews hopes to one day start a social enterprise to solve the world’s most challenging social problems through the use of information and related technologies.
Rebecca Leah Levine
Rebecca Leah Levine – Ms. Levine is receiving a Juris Doctorate. Originally from Rhode Island, she earned a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College and an MPH from Columbia University. At the University of Washington’s School of Law, Ms. Levine is the chief articles editor of the Washington Law Review, the school’s flagship journal. She has also served as a member of the Student Bar Association and as president of the Jewish Law Students Association. Ms. Levine has received the Ms. JD Fellowship for her work to promote women in the law. She has also worked for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This coming year, Ms. Levine will serve as a law clerk in the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1.
School of Medicine
Joshua Ryan Dobrowits – Mr. Dobrowits is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology and a minor in Microbiology. Born and raised in Enumclaw, Washington, Mr. Dobrowits has always had a strong curiosity for medical science and a desire to be involved in the healthcare field. For this reason, he chose to become a Medical Laboratory Scientist. His choice in this career will allow him to provide valuable diagnostic information to physicians for the purpose of better patient care now and in the future. He has been awarded several scholarships in recognition of academic achievement thanks to the generosity of the faculty, staff and supporters of the Department of Laboratory Medicine. After graduation, Mr. Dobrowits has been hired to work at the Group Health Cooperative Microbiology Laboratory starting in June. Mr. Dobrowits would like to thank his family and friends for their support as well as his girlfriend, Kendle Nelson, who will also be graduating from the Medical Technology program this year.
Colleen Murphy-Carey – Ms. Murphy-Carey is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology. A Port Angeles native, she transferred to the University of Washington after earning her AA Honors degree from Peninsula College. She became interested in the Medical Technology program during a health science fair. The combination of science and medicine captured her attention and imagination, making her studies difficult but worthwhile. During her time at the University of Washington, Ms. Murphy-Carey has organized and participated in many group activities for her program. She is also involved with her hometown community, most recently collecting clothing on campus for low income high school students. She is also a Phi Theta Kappa and Phi Sigma Theta Honor Society member. Ms. Murphy-Carey plans to work as a medical technologist in the Seattle area for the next few years, keeping the possibility of attending medical school open.
School of Nursing
Jason Ly – Mr. Ly is the first in his family to receive a college degree. He is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He chose to enter the profession of nursing after working as a student assistant at the University of Washington’s Medical Center. He became impressed with nurses treating the “whole patient” throughout the continuum of care and being able to offer therapeutic support to patients and their family members. During his time at the University of Washington, Mr. Ly has been actively involved in student organizations such as the Professional Organization of Nursing Students, the Associated Students of UW, the Khmer Student Association, the Graduate & Professional Student Senate, and UW Leaders. Mr. Ly plans to work as a registered nurse at the UW Medical Center and continue his education as a graduate student in the School of Nursing. Mr. Ly hopes to continue giving back to the community that has given him so much throughout his academic endeavors.
School of Pharmacy
Matthew Weisser – Mr. Weisser is graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. Originally from Lacey, Washington, Mr. Weisser previously earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. He chose to pursue a degree in pharmacy to combine his two passions, learning about science and medicine, and helping others to improve their lives. Some of his fondest memories of the University include walking through the quad, working out at the IMA, and studying in the I-rotunda café at the Health Science Building. After graduation, Mr. Weisser will begin a one year Community Pharmacy residency with a local Pharmacy Chain and will look to continue practicing pharmacy in an ambulatory care capacity.
Evans School of Public Affairs
Rebecca “Becka” Johnson – Ms. Johnson is receiving a Masters of Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Affairs, where she served as the school’s student body president this year. Becka is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society for Public Affairs and Administration. She is also receiving a certificate in Environmental Management from the University of Washington’s Program on the Environment. Originally from Bainbridge Island, she earned her bachelor’s degree at Whitman College in Walla Walla, after which she assisted in psychology research and writing at Stanford University. Ms. Johnson now hopes to combine her life-long environmental ethic with her studies of human behavior and administrative leadership to work for a future in which human material needs and a healthy environment can be mutually and sustainably satisfied.
School of Public Health
Michael James Chen – Mr. Chen is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health. A Bellevue native, Mr. Chen was drawn to Environmental Health because it bridged the gap between the health of people and the environment. Throughout his time at the University of Washington, Mr. Chen has enjoyed time spent as a research associate at Seattle Children’s Hospital, volunteering overnight shifts at Roots Young Adult Homeless Shelter, and volunteering the front desk at RotaCare Free Clinic in Bellevue. Mr. Chen has been accepted into the UW School of Medicine’s M.D. program, and will begin this following academic year. He is currently interested in a career in surgery. Mr. Chen would like to thank his family for their continual love and support and the faculty and staff of the UW and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences for the outstanding education he has received.
School of Social Work
Janell Vaughn – Ms. Vaughn is receiving a Master of Social Work (Integrated Health & Mental Health). Originally from Bellingham, Washington, Ms. Vaughn loves serving and helping others. As a social worker, her goal has been to learn how best to advocate for and empower the clients that she serves. One of her highlights of studying at the University of Washington have been the level of knowledge and instruction. Ms. Vaughn has been impressed with many of the professionals that she has had the opportunity to learn from. She is looking forward to continuing in the field of mental health and addictions.