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 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
Aditya Khanna - Mr. Khanna is graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy in Quantitative Ecology & Resource Management. From Bombay, India, he came to the States to attend college in 2001. He looked at UW’s graduate programs and was intrigued by the interdisciplinary graduate program in Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management. His research as a graduate student was in applying network models to study HIV transmission. UW has been at the forefront for developing the theory behind such models, and creating the tools that applied researchers need. The Network Modeling group at the University of Washington provided the necessary support he needed to hone her skills. Mr. Khanna is currently a post-doc at the International Clinical Research Center (ICRC) in the Department of Global Health at the UW. In the future, he hopes to continue to apply his skills in mathematical modeling and statistics to questions in public health.
Elena Verdine Donoso Brown - Ms. Donoso Brown is receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science. She and her husband moved to Seattle from Albany, New York, so that she could pursue her doctorate in Rehabilitation Science. She chose this degree program because it has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and an outstanding faculty. During her time at the University of Washington, Ms. Donoso Brown has had several opportunities to develop her skills as a researcher and educator; this included being a T-32 fellow; writing and receiving a small pilot study grant, and publishing her first two papers in academic journals. Since completing the program she has moved with her husband and son back to the east coast. Ms. Donoso Brown is currently working clinically and looking for the opportunity to apply her research and teaching skills in this setting.
Rajesh Subramanian - Mr. Subramanian is receiving a Master of Science in Information Management. Born in Mumbai, he was always intrigued by technology. He began working for one of the largest IT services company in India where he had the opportunity to gain deep practical knowledge in the field of Information Systems & Data Warehousing. He chose the Information School because it provided a perfect platform to nurture a blend of critical industry skills, simultaneously enhancing the ability to handle the emerging information needs of every industry. One of the great things he found while studying at the iSchool is the numerous opportunities to meet amazing people: professors, industry professionals as well students with diverse academic backgrounds. He also got the opportunity to serve as the 2012-2013 Secretary for the Association of Information Management Students organization. After graduation, Mr. Subramanian will be working an as Advisory Associate in the Information Protection & Business Resilience Services Office of KPMG in Seattle.
Wasima Badghisy - Ms. Badghisy is graduating with a Master of Laws. From Herat City in Afghanistan, she is a professor at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Herat University in Afghanistan. Ms. Badghisy is strongly interested in being a part of the new generation of lawyers in Afghanistan who are developing the Afghanistan legal system. The Asian and Comparative Law LLM degree program at the University of Washington School of Law has given her an opportunity to study the United States legal system and improve her knowledge about the common law legal system. Her most significant achievement was she was the successful completion of her master’s degree while learning English – all in a short time at UW. Ms. Badghisy plans to continue teaching law at Herat University in Afghanistan and hopes to get her Ph.D. in Law in the future to help develop the legal system in Afghanistan to support the rights of Afghan women and children.
The College of Arts and Sciences
Jenna Nicole Andrews - Ms. Andrews is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She was born in New York City, but raised in Sammamish, Washington. Before applying to the UW she was able to discover what she was truly passionate about – helping others. She has worked in a lab as a research assistant, collaborated with an esteemed professor as an undergraduate TA, and volunteered at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. One of her most significant achievements has been working with the College of Arts and Sciences C21 Fellows Program. They were granted a research scholarship to go to Tokyo, Japan to examine how their higher education system functions. It was a life changing experience for her, one that will never be forgotten! After graduation, Ms. Andrews plans on leaving for Zambia for a month to participate in a study abroad program that focuses on health education for youth. She will also be applying for graduate programs concentrating on child development in the fall.
Natalie Frances Downs - Ms. Downs is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Italian. From Redmond, Washington, she began exploring her interest in Italian studies during her first quarter at UW. She originally began her biology degree in the hopes of pursuing research, but after spending her first two years in a clinical research lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, she discovered a passion for education. Ms. Downs subsequently served in various teaching roles at UW as well as volunteer programs abroad. She parlayed these experiences into the role of peer advisor in Undergraduate Academic Affairs Advising. Together these experiences have helped her earn a Fulbright U.S. Student award to Italy, where she will complete an English teaching assistantship in Italian schools. Following her time with the Fulbright program, Ms. Downs intends to incorporate her science education, teaching, and advising backgrounds in the completion of a master’s program in genetic counseling.
Shelby Morgan Handler - Ms. Handler is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English Creative Writing and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. From Denver, Colorado, Ms. Handler is honored to have gotten the opportunity to explore the possibilities of poetry and social justice. A passion for arts activism brought her to work at the Q Center and the ASUW Women’s Action Commission, as well as the Seattle chapter of the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (CARW). As Ms. Handler prepares for graduation, she is proud to be the only person in UW history to have won the annual Drag Competition and been crowned the Homecoming Queen.
Martin Hugo Jarmick - Mr. Jarmick is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Arts & Experimental Media. Mr. Jarmick is an artist from Seattle who chose the DXARTS program to challenge his notions of traditional film and music production. After experimenting with a vast array of new-media technologies and ideas in contemporary art, and his involvement in education, he hopes to continue to make meaningful work and contribute to communities through teaching.
Janice Leung - Ms. Leung is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Originally from Hong Kong, she has enjoyed learning about law, rights and courts in different countries. Not only has she become more educated about the theoretical background of this academic field, but this knowledge has also pushed her to further explore practical relevance in the society. She began volunteering in various legal-oriented organizations concerning social injustice such as the Unemployment Law Project and the ACLU. While studying at the University, she has also developed an interest in the analysis of legal mechanisms and general history in Greater China. She had the privilege to contribute to Professor Susan Whiting’s research in Chinese land law, and developed a thesis on legal consciousness in the Chinese society. In her spare time, she participated in editing groups including the Washington Undergraduate Law Review and the Jackson School Journal of International Studies. Ms. Leung’s future plans will be to further her education especially in the area of law.
Galen Udell Pizzorno - Mr. Pizzorno is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology. Wanting to understand how the mind worked, he chose UW’s neurobiology program. Under the mentorship of Drs. Gwenn Garden and Suman Jayadev of UW Neurology, he proposed and completed an honors thesis on the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Pizzorno was chosen as an Amgen Scholar, Mary Gates Research Scholar, and Farner Scholar. He was also the Co-Founder and President of the RSO Tango Club, was elected VP of Tutoring for Tribeta, and created a free, one-on-one tutoring service accessible to all introductory Biology students. He also volunteered with terminally ill patients through Providence Hospice of Seattle, shadow rural care physicians via Health Care Alternative Spring Break, and be part of a team reaching the finals in Alpha Epsilon Delta’s Bioethics Competition. Mr. Pizzorno hopes to enter medical school in autumn 2014, and in the intervening year will create content for a website designed to educate the public on treatment options for various diseases.
College of Built Environments
Eddie Plana - Mr. Plana is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Community Environment and Planning. From Southern California he decided to go back to school in 2010 and found a home in the Community, Environment and Planning major. The program has allowed him to custom tailor his educational path to match the skillset that he wants to have after graduation. He is one of the founding members of the College of the Built Environments Student Council. While in CEP, he was able to work on several projects in the Lake City neighborhood. He worked closely with the community to help them envision how their community could change and what change they would like to see. Mr. Plana plans to use these skills to help communities realize how their quality of life can be positively influenced by intentional community planning.
Foster School of Business
Hadis Salah Ali - Mr. Ali is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with concentration in Accounting and Information Systems. He was born in Kismayo, Somalia but spent his early childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp. He learned to speak English after immigrating to the US in 2007 and settling in Minneapolis. Mr. Ali is the recipient of the George and Marlene Zoffel Scholarship. He served in executive positions with the Somali Student Association, Muslim Student Association, and as President of the UW Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. He is passionate about the transformational impacts of education. His volunteer work includes teaching underrepresented minority students about accounting through the Accounting Career Awareness Program, and organizing an event to teach Somali students about admissions, scholarship, and higher education opportunities. After graduation Mr. Ali will spend his summer studying for the CPA exam in preparation for his position with Deloitte Audit & Enterprise Risk Services
Munir Malik Nanjee - Mr. Nanjee is receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Originally born in Pakistan, Mr. Nanjee moved to the United States when he was 10 years old. He is currently the manager of Montlake Consulting Group and a TA for Accounting Information Systems. He was previously the president of Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, co-founder of an activist group on campus, and on the executive board for his hall council. He has competed in multiple business competitions including the Target Business Diversity Competition, the Holland America Line Global Case Competition, and the Global Business Case Competition. Mr. Nanjee has received many awards, including: Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity Endowment Scholarship, and Aga Khan Education Board Scholarship. Mr. Nanjee has previously interned at Mercer Consulting and Microsoft. In the fall Mr. Nanjee joins Deloitte Consulting in the Strategy and Operations department. He hopes to eventually become a professor at the University of Washington. Mr. Nanjee owes his success to his mom for constantly inspiring him.
School of Dentistry
David M. Avenetti - Dr. Avenetti is earning his Master of Science in Dentistry while completing his post-doctoral training in Pediatric Dentistry. He is concurrently earning a Master of Public Health (Health Services) through the Maternal and Child Health training program. Originally from Southern California, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California. His interest in the health sciences led him to earn his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles where he was inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon honor society as a lifetime member. He was drawn to the University of Washington for the unique multidisciplinary didactic and clinical experiences available to residents in both a university and hospital setting. His training in Pediatric Dentistry and Public Health has provided him with a strong foundation to pursue a career in academic and clinical pediatric dentistry. Meanwhile, he hopes to integrate his extensive background in leadership and service into his professional career.
College of Education
Daisy Denise Alfaro - Ms. Alfaro is receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy. She is from Lynwood, California. Her research reframes the approach of examining the educational outcomes of Latinos, from one that has consistently documented failure to one that highlights success with the purpose of informing efforts that can ensure more successful outcomes for Latino students. In recognition of her scholarship and service, she has been invited to present at numerous national conferences and to multiple audiences, including one in Chongqing, China. She received the College of Education 2012 Graduate Student Leadership Award and most recently was recognized by the California State Assembly and the 63rd Assembly District as the 2013 Woman of Distinction Award in Education. Ms. Alfaro credits her scholarly accomplishments to her advisors, mentors, peers, CSU Long Beach Upward Bound, the city Lynwood, and above all, her familia.
College of Engineering
Natalie Marie Larson - Ms. Larson is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science & Engineering. A native Seattleite, she started her undergraduate career conducting research in the Automobili Lamborghini Advanced Composite Structures Lab the summer before her freshman year. She joined the Flinn group in the MSE Department. She recently presented her research at SAMPE Tech in South Carolina, in Paris, in Long Beach, and in Le Mans, France. Ms. Larson is a Washington Scholars Scholar, a NASA Space Grant Scholar, a Washington Research Fellowship Recipient, a National SAMPE Student Leader Experience Award Recipient, and a CRC Freshman Achievement Award Recipient. She is also a part of the UW SAMPE Chapter. As president her senior year, she helped give undergraduates in the department hands-on experience with the design and manufacturing of composite materials. Ms. Larson will begin working on her PhD in the fall at UCSB. Her ultimate goal is to contribute to cutting edge research in Materials Science and Engineering that can help society by allowing more energy efficient structures to be made.
Raymond Zhang - Mr. Zhang will be receiving a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. Mr. Zhang entered the University of Washington in 2008 at the age of 12 through the Robinson Center’s Early Entrance Program. He has performed research in the revolutionary field of Computational Biology, under Professor Ram Samudrala’s guidance as part of the Samudrala Computational Biology Research Group. He was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar and was also awarded a Mary Gates Research Scholarship. He has also received the Kildall Endowed Scholarship and Microsoft Scholarship in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Mr. Zhang has broadened his experience through a summer internship at Arista Networks and a summer undergraduate research program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After graduation, he plans to start work in October at Google. He is contemplating returning to academia down the road to complete a Ph.D. or a combined M.D./Ph.D.
College of the Environment
Taryn Elizabeth Black - Ms. Black is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Space Sciences and Physics, with Honors in Earth and Space Sciences. She is from Monroe, WA. A rock-loving high school teacher sparked her interest in geology, so she decided to take an introductory geology course in her first quarter at UW and was hooked! One of her favorite aspects of her degree path is the variety of opportunities it provides for out-of-classroom learning experiences. Ms. Black has been involved in diverse research projects, topics ranging from paleoclimate to thermodynamics. Currently she is assisting with research on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and spent a month in Antarctica doing field work. Ms. Black has been heavily involved with the department’s GeoClub, and as the current club President has helped organize several geology-related academic and social events for club members. She has found a particular passion for volcanoes, and is excited to start a new chapter as a volcanology PhD student at Georgia Tech this fall.
The Information School
Bryan Dosono - Mr. Dosono is graduating summa cum laude with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Informatics: Human-Computer Interaction. As an undergraduate, Mr. Dosono served as United Greek Council President, Lambda Phi Epsilon Fraternity President, Associated Students of the University of Washington Senate Chair, and Homecoming King. He transforms scholarship into action by creating opportunities for others through technology. Mr. Dosono was appointed by the Mayor of Seattle to serve on the City’s Technology Advisory Board where he raised awareness of affordable broadband internet programs for low-income families. As a McNair Scholar, Mary Gates Research Scholar, Presidential Scholar, and Ellis Civic Fellow, his research examined modern digital inclusion efforts of migrant youth on the Yakama Indian Reservation. Mr. Dosono will be starting his PhD program in Information Science and Technology at Syracuse University this fall, where his work will address technology policy and information access within underserved communities.
Spencer William Hutchins - Mr. Hutchins is receiving a Juris Doctor. Born and raised in Washington State, he attended Gonzaga University in 2008 and received a double-major in Political Science and Classical Civilizations. Before attending law school, he managed a successful state representative campaign and worked as a staffer in the United States Congress and Washington State Legislature. His experience in politics and public service led him into law school. During his time at UW Law School, Mr. Hutchins has excelled in moot court competitions and represented the university as a member of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Competition team. He served as President of Moot Court Honor Board and as a Judicial Extern with two distinguished judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Mr. Hutchins graduates as a member of the Order of the Barristers. He looks forward to using his legal education to further serve his community.
School of Medicine
Vincent Michael Perino - Mr. Perino is receiving a Bachelor of Clinical Health Services. Originally from Mt. Vernon, WA, he will be the first person in his family to graduate from college. He chose physician assistant studies to develop his broad base of medical knowledge in order to expand his abilities in patient care. He looks forward to playing a more proactive role in medicine and hopes to better treat and educate patients.Being a part of the WWAMI program has allowed him to move to Anchorage Alaska and attend classes. The clinical rotations around Alaska have shown him the high level of need there is for health care in rural communities. The providers in these communities are inspirational by their display of true passion for caring for others under what most would consider substandard conditions. Mr. Perino plans on staying in Alaska and practice medicine for a few years and enjoy all that Alaska has to offer.
School of Nursing
Pamella Lee Guntrum - Ms. Guntrum is graduating with a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Originally from San Francisco, her nursing career includes positions within an academic medical center, community health, home infusion, and health insurance. She is currently completing her tenth year at Harborview Medical Center. What she enjoyed most about this learning experience was the exposure to new concepts which broadened her perspective of healthcare systems. She also appreciated the opportunity to dialogue with fellow nurses in various phases of their nursing careers ranging from novice to expert. Ms. Guntrum has also received two nursing scholarships in 2012 – one from King County Nurses Association and the other from Harborview Medical Center. Her future aspirations include leading innovative approaches that contribute to healthcare professionals and patients partnering for improved health outcomes. She believes a strong partnership between the patient and healthcare professional has a profound impact on the patient’s ability to experience an improved quality of life.
School of Pharmacy
Melody Maa - Ms. Maa is receiving a Doctor of Pharmacy. From Bellevue, WA, she has been happy to have been able to spend 7 years at the UW, where she earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry, and now a professional degree in pharmacy. She found herself growing to love not only the interaction between pharmacists, patients, and other healthcare professionals, but also the wide network of support available to help those in the community improve their health. Throughout her education at UW, she has had the opportunity to learn much more than what was taught in the classroom setting, by way of traveling abroad. These experiences include a month in Vicenza, Italy, studying the Italian healthcare system, and a week in Honduras for a pharmacy school organized Global Medical Brigade. Starting this summer, Ms. Maa will be completing an acute pharmacy practice residency program in Houston with the eventual goal of practicing in an acute care hospital setting.
Evans School of Public Affairs
Christopher Ray Toman - Mr. Toman is receiving a Master of Public Administration. A Wisconsin native, he chose to pursue this program after spending two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He spent his first year as a member of a conservation crew in Nevada and his second as a basic education tutor for adults studying to earn their GED. Both experiences reinforced a belief that when individuals commit to working together, they can have a positive impact on their environment and community. At the Evans School, Mr. Toman served as student-body president, where he oversaw measures to increase the student voice in school decision-making processes and worked to establish the Evans School Policy Challenge. He worked as a Project Coordinator at UW Recycling & Solid Waste and he will also be receiving a certificate in Environmental Management from the University of Washington’s Program on the Environment. He is committed to finding collaborative and data-driven solutions that improve public and private organization’s environmental outcomes and bottom lines.
School of Public Health
Luis Xavier Amezcua Diaz - Mr. Amezcua Diaz is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics. Originally from Mexico City, he chose this degree because of his passion for healthcare. The UW proved to be an environment where knowledge was born by the interactions of all his classmates in the program. The collaboration between all of his classmates proved to be the most gratifying part of his degree. He plans to continue developing his educational skills in order to advance within his career of healthcare. He sees there is room for improvement in the area, specifically towards the refinement for safekeeping healthcare information. He plans to return to the UW to obtain a Masters in Business Administration, and plans on growing within his company for the next few years, so he can return home to assist the Mexican government. He aspires to be the Secretary of Health to assist the Mexican people to achieve a well-informed society where every individual in the country would be able to possess the best healthcare services like any First World country.
School of Social Work
Marie Elizabeth Loeb - Ms. Loeb is receiving a Masters in Social Work. From Portland Oregon, Ms. Loeb chose the School of Social Work at University of Washington for its amazing reputation, and the hope that she could gain the skills needed to become an agent of change for families with loved ones who have neurological differences, mental disorders, or have experienced trauma. As a student, she has served as an elected representative for her cohort on the School of Social Work Student Advisory Council, helped organize the “Day of Learning and Action” teach-in, and organized the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition release event to raise awareness for holistic non-stigmatizing practice and funding needs for those in our community. Ms. Loeb looks forward to serving our community as a mental health therapist, and plans to return to academia to pursue a PhD in an effort of using research, experience, and advocacy to create change in public policy.