2010 Celebration Scholarship Recipients
EOP Celebration Scholar
Rachel Aleaga is a sophomore who plans to apply to the UW Medical School and pursue a career as a family physician. As a first-generation student who has struggled with her share of financial hardships, she wants to give back to her Pacific Islander community by providing medical resources and healthcare, and creating scholarships for students like herself.
Rachel is very active within her Polynesian community. She is a member of the Polynesian Student Alliance, as well as many affiliated programs and mentorships that are committed to youth outreach in the Polynesian community due to the lack of Polynesian representation at UW. Rachel was inspired to assist her uncle Ink Aleaga with his non-profit organization, Taro Roots, a football camp for Pacific Islander youth ages 10-13 that prepares them for high school and encourages them to pursue higher education. She also served as a peer advisor for the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity last year.
Rachel is well on her way towards a medical career after participating in an internship with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last summer. She worked with the medical staff and had hands on experience assisting doctors and nurses, reassuring herself of her passion for medicine.
UW Athletic Scholar
Political Science, Law, Societies and Justice
Falesha Ankton is a senior pursuing a double major in political science and law, societies and justice. She continually provides support and encouragement to fellow Husky athletes, while blazing a path on the track and in the classroom. Falesha is both an All-American and a UW school-record holder as a member of the squad’s distance medley relay team that finished eighth at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. A standout sprinter and hurdler, she also ranks among Washington’s Top-10 all-time performers in six other events. Her 100-meter hurdle time set in 2009 ranks second in UW history.
Not only does Falesha succeed on the track, but she also excels in the classroom and finds time to volunteer. A 3.0 student, she serves on the UW Athletic Department’s Peer Advocate Group, mentoring fellow student-athletes and advocating on behalf of their concerns. A standout volunteer in the community, Falesha always brings a smile to those who interact with her. She is well known in Husky athletics for her cheerleading skills and shows support for her peers by attending several competitions while sporting her gold tights, purple suit and pompoms.
Falesha interns with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and plans to pursue a similar full-time position working with a government agency to help rebuild communities. She hopes to continue her track and field career after graduating.
President’s Achievement Award
Tavis Dickerson-Young is a senior majoring in biochemistry with departmental distinction. After graduating this spring, he plans to attend medical school with the goal of becoming a physician. Tavis has maintained an exceptional 3.81 grade-point average while juggling a difficult course load, volunteering in the community, participating in extra-curricular activities, holding a part-time job, conducting undergraduate research and helping to support his disabled mother.
Tavis is active in several student organizations including the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS), Hand-2-Hand and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biology Fellows Program. He was a member of the Husky Marching Band for two years and served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for two different biology courses. In addition, Tavis has been involved with undergraduate research through the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD), studying the effects of dopamine deficiency on learning and memory.
Among his many volunteer efforts, Tavis has contributed his time to Harborview Medical Center and the Puget Sound Blood Center. He also participated in international volunteer work on service trips to the Dominican Republic, Uganda and Mexico. Tavis intends to continue those efforts when he becomes a physician by volunteering in a free clinic that serves underrepresented communities. He plans to work with Doctors Without Borders so that he can travel overseas and provide healthcare to people in impoverished, third-world countries.
William P. and Ruth Gerberding/Early Identification Program Scholar
Geography, Comparative History of Ideas
Melissa Espinoza is a junior and will be graduating next spring with degrees in geography and the comparative history of ideas. She plans to go to graduate school, earn a doctorate and become a professor, while continuing field work in developing areas such as the Kumaon region of the Himalayas.
Melissa’s interest in field work was sparked by the several internships and undergraduate research programs she participated in, both on campus and internationally. She has taken part in four study abroad programs: two in India, as well as in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Iceland. While studying in the Kumaon Region of the Himalayas in India, Melissa kept a journal about her experience that will be translated into Hindi for the locals there.
In addition to her extensive study abroad opportunities, Melissa takes part in numerous volunteer efforts as well. She has worked with the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) and Nickelsville, a homeless encampment in the Seattle area. Melissa was also a member of the FIUTS (Foundation for International Understanding Through Students) Club on campus that connects local students with international students. While studying abroad, she worked with disadvantaged children in an after-school program in Belfast and taught English to elementary school students and staff members in India.
EOP Celebration Scholar
Hope is a junior majoring in communications who excels both inside and outside of the classroom. She is grateful for the financial support she has received in order to earn an education and has definitely made the most of the opportunity. Hope has been a member of the Dean’s List for six of her eight quarters at UW, and has been recognized as a member of the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society as well, while juggling volunteer efforts and working a part-time job.
For over two years, Hope has been actively involved with Hope Eritrean Social Services where she has assisted elementary and junior high school students with their school work and tutored them on a weekly basis. She has worked with the Elizabeth Gregory Home, a program that provides support for single, homeless women. Hope continues to volunteer at the Hoquiam Food and Clothing Bank on seasonal breaks from school.
Hope is very active in the campus community as well, serving as a Haggett Hall Leader and the Public Relations Officer for Haggett Hall’s Student Council. Most recently she served as an EOP student mentor last fall. Hope plans to continue volunteering for the EOP Program after she graduates to assist students with similar needs. She intends to also pursue a master’s degree program in communications, with the hopes of beginning her career in public relations and marketing.
EOP Celebration Scholar
Tania Lopez is a junior majoring in social work with a minor in law, societies and justice. The first in her family to go to a four-year university, Tania juggles two jobs, handles babysitting duties at home and is a full-time student. Her primary goal after she graduates is to make a difference by giving back to her community. She wants to set an example to her family and all young adults by showing them that anything is possible with hard work, dedication and commitment.
Already well on her way to reaching those goals, Tania has worked as a math and science tutor with MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) for the last three years. She has served as a tutor for an all-girls summer science program, helping them build magnetic go-carts, rockets and bridges, and dissecting pig hearts. She has also worked with a summer math program for incoming UW freshmen. In addition, Tania has been involved with One American – an organization whose mission is to advance the fundamental principles of democracy, justice and human rights at the local, state and national level. On top of that, Tania works with Consejo, an organization that assists women who are the victims of domestic violence and youth who deal with drug addiction. She finds time to assist with the Sunday School program at her church, as well.
Tania plans to obtain a master’s degree in social work and pursue a career in criminal justice, focusing her efforts on helping young adults. She also hopes to attend law school where she will focus on criminal justice as well. Tania has received the Boeing Scholarship, the Latinas in Engineering Scholarship, the Golden Grads Award Scholarship and the EOP Scholarship Merit Award.
Robert T. and Nancy J. Knight Scholar
Trevor Martin, a junior, is majoring in electrical engineering with a concentration in digital signal processing. After graduating in 2011, he plans to work for a company that uses signal processing to improve the world and later pursue a graduate degree. A native of Hawai’i, Trevor relies on scholarship support to help fund his education and in the future plans to return the favor by funding scholarships for others who deserve similar opportunities.
He currently works as a part-time student programmer for the UW Polar Science Center, a unit of the Applied Physics Lab. In this position he is responsible for programming and modeling data and images, including matrix manipulations and interpolation of data sets. Trevor also works with researchers who are studying the effects of Arctic Sea ice and its role in Arctic climate and ocean circulation. In addition, he served as an intern for the Acoustic Lab at Hewlett Packard in Vancouver, Washington during the summer of 2008. He was responsible for programming data collection scripts using Visual Basic, Excel and Matlab. Busy with campus activities as well, Trevor is a member of the UW Hawaii Club and the Math Club. He also volunteered for set-up and served as a tour guide at the College of Engineering Open House in 2008.
Trevor’s accomplishments are quite impressive considering his speech and language acquisition were greatly impacted at a young age. He was born with a high frequency hearing loss affecting 25 percent of his hearing that was not diagnosed until the age of five.
Lydia Gonzalez Scholar
About four years ago, Kristine Pascual moved with her family from Guam to the United States in order to garner more opportunities than her home country had to offer. Initially, her family made its home in New York City but struggled to make ends meet and lived in a relative’s small basement. After six months, their journey took them further West and they settled in Tacoma, Washington.
Kristine worked to overcome yet another transition but thrived at Mt. Tahoma High School, eventually became the school’s 2006 Valedictorian. She brought her stellar academic success to the University of Washington, where she is now pursuing her dream of becoming a registered nurse. With the help of this EOP scholarship, Kristine plans to attain her bachelor’s of science degree next June. As a nurse, she eventually wants to work with an underserved population, such as the homeless. She was inspired to do so after volunteering with a young adult shelter called ROOTS (Rising Out of the Shadows), a University District organization that serves homeless youth ages 18-25. In that position, Kristine helped play a vital role in the development of their mental, physical and social needs.
She is an active volunteer at the UW Medical Center’s Northeast Cardiothoracic Unit and during a Healthcare Alternative Spring Break (HCASB) trip, she shadowed nurses in Yakima who cared for the underserved. Kristine hopes to work as a nurse technician this summer.
Mark Cooper Scholar
Renee Plummer, a sophomore biology major, has overcome her share of hardships to succeed at the University of Washington. Relying on grants, scholarships and loans to fund her education, she juggles a job and volunteer efforts while maintaining a stellar academic record. Renee’s dream is to wear a white coat and help people with their health related problems. She hopes to attend the UW Medical School and become a cardiovascular surgeon or a clinical cardiologist.
Renee’s motivation to become a doctor stemmed from her desire to help those who are not able to help themselves after she and her siblings grew up with limited healthcare options due to her family’s financial situation. She currently volunteers at the UW Medical Center’s Surgery Pavilion Center. Renee hopes the hands on experience there will help prepare her for a future career in medicine.
No matter how busy she may be, Renee makes a point to take part in campus groups and leadership activities. She began working as a DAWG Move-In Coordinator before she even started school. She has served on the Residence Hall Student Association as a floor representative. Renee still made time to work a twice-a-week night shift for Housing and Food Services during the fall quarter to earn extra money to pay for school expenses including textbooks.
Wells Fargo Vice President’s Achievement Award
Maria Ramos, a senior electrical engineering major from Sunnyside, Washington, is a shining example of perseverance and hard work. Whether moving to Seattle to get a college education at UW while her husband and one-year-old son live in Mexico or working in the fields cutting asparagus for two hours before school to help contribute to her families’ wages as a teenager, Maria continues to strive to make a better life for her loved ones and remain an exceptional student at the same time.
Not only does she have aspirations to become an electrical engineer, Maria wants to give back to the community in her chosen profession. She plans to pursue a master’s degree and get involved with Engineers Without Borders to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged communities worldwide. Already moving towards her career goals, Maria is currently doing undergraduate research with UW Professor Blake Hannaford and is working in his BioRobotics Lab. Last fall, she was also selected to take part in a six-month internship with the Mass Electrical Construction Company in Boston. Maria already gives back by serving as a math tutor for the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity’s Instructional Center. A Dean’s List scholar as a freshman, she is capable of teaching math at several levels and finds it as much of a learning experience as her mentees do.
Not only is she an example of perseverance and hard work, Maria is someone whose education would not be possible without the help of grants, loans and financial aid. She plans to graduate with a bachelor’s of science degree in spring, 2011.
Bank of America Scholar
Oscar Reyna overcame the challenge of moving to a campus with an enrollment of over 40,000 from his hometown of Cashmere, Washington where his high school included just 450 students. Initially overwhelmed with the transition and being the first in his family to attend college, Oscar has prevailed over his share of personal struggles to excel at UW.
Oscar’s achievements have not gone unnoticed as the junior business administration major has been named a Costco Diversity Scholar, a Pacific Northwest Kiwanis Scholar, a three-time Hispanic Scholarship Foundation Scholar and a Foster Business School Scholar. In addition to his academic accomplishments, he devotes time to internships, as well as community and campus involvement. Oscar is currently an intern with the Haller Lake Christian Health Clinic, a non-profit organization that provides medical, dental and mental healthcare for the low-income and uninsured population of North Seattle. Last year, he worked with UW’s Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program. Oscar served as a volunteer with the spiritual counsel at Children’s Hospital as well. As a member of UW’s National Honor Society, he took part in various community service activities around the area and served as Vice President at one point. Oscar was also the Vice President of Administration and Risk Chair for his fraternity.
After he graduates, Oscar plans to attend dental school and eventually move back to a smaller community similar to his hometown. He would like to specialize in pediatric dentistry or orthodontics.
Robert T. and Nancy J. Knight Scholar
Political Science, American Indian Studies
Cheyenne Sanders is junior majoring in both political science and American Indian studies. Already exhibiting a passion for public service and Native issues, she plans to attend law school and work for a Native tribe, ideally her own – the Yurok – after completing her undergraduate degrees next spring.
Cheyenne participated in two internships with U.S. Senators, working for both Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell. She called both experiences great opportunities to prepare her for law school and a future career in public service. Cheyenne currently interns with the Northwest Division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Native American Programs. She is also very involved and holds a leadership role in the Eastside Native American Education Program (ENAEP) – a way for youth from the Lake Washington, Bellevue and Northshore School Districts to come together as a Native community.
Very active in campus activities, Cheyenne is an ASUW representative on the Faculty Council of Multicultural Affairs and has served as a mentor for the Mentor Power Success Program. She has worked for her father’s company as an office manager and a website creator. Cheyenne’s goal is to eventually work for a federal program that addresses concerns such as HUD ONAP. She also sees herself working at the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Alfred and Marilyn Mus Scholar
American Ethnic Studies
Born in Ethiopia and now having the opportunity to receive an education in the United States, Brukab Sisay has gained a sense of responsibility to make the world a better and more equitable place for future generations. A senior majoring in American Ethnic Studies and minoring in Education, Learning and Society, Brukab is already on his way to doing just that in spite of battling his share of financial and personal hardships.
Since his freshman year, Brukab has been heavily involved in the UW Dream Project, a program that partners UW undergraduates with low-income and first-generation high school students with a mission to help them successfully transition into higher education. A low-income and first-generation student himself, Brukab has helped lead the project’s expansion efforts and presented about the program’s efforts at regional and national conferences, helping to start similar programs nationwide. In addition to his involvement with the Dream Project, Brukab took on an effort to bring what he was learning in AES classes to the rest of the University through what he titled “Community Dialogues,” leading discussions on race, community and patriotism that challenged and exposed the opinions of those who participated. Brukab has been a member of the Pacific Islander Partnership in Education (P.I.P.E.) mentorship program the last two years and now serves as the director for BASIC PLAN, a similar program for recent African diasporics and African American Students.
While he did hold down a work-study job at the Ethnic Cultural Center during his sophomore year, scholarships and financial aid have made it possible for Brukab to go to school and be able to focus on his extensive volunteer efforts. After earning a graduate degree in American Ethnic Studies, he plans to attain a law degree and become either a professor or a civil-rights lawyer.
Sonnenblick Del Rio Global Citizens Scholar
With a dream of becoming a mission director for the United States Agency for International Development, Nathaniel Thomas left his home in Boston, Massachusetts to pursue an education at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies.
A sophomore majoring in international studies, Nathaniel is focusing on international development after becoming aware of economic increases in global divergence. He has been accepted to take part in an Exploration Seminar in the Himalayas entitled, “Health in a Developing Nation.” The program will allow him to learn firsthand about the health concerns of underdeveloped villages. Nathaniel plans to extend his stay in Nepal for four to five months where he will combine the seminar with an independent research project that will explore Nepal’s nationalism and ethnic or tribal identity, the Maoist insurgency, the politics of caste and how these spectrums contribute to Nepal’s fragile government.
Nathaniel is fully dependent on financial aid to pay for his education, especially for travel abroad opportunities. After he completes his undergraduate studies, Nathaniel plans to attend American University’s School of International Service in order to receive a master’s degree in international development. His eventual goal is to travel and assist the livelihood of others. Nathaniel believes that the only way to change something is to become a part of it.
Gary D. Kimura Family Scholar
Marketing and Communications
James Zaw is a junior majoring in both marketing and communications. He is very active within the campus community and upholds a stellar grade point average at the same time.
James participates in several functions and events related to the Foster School of Business. In December 2009, he was a student representative at the Minority Business Awards Dinner, which was attended by multiple Northwest and Washington state business owners. That same month, he also attended the BEDC Student Leadership Summit that featured keynote speakers William Ayer, Chairman and CEO of Alaska Airlines and Morela Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Management at the UW Foster School of Business.
James is an active member of the Khmer Student Association (KHSA), a cultural club that brings together Cambodian students and students with an interest in Cambodian culture. With KHSA, he volunteered at this past year’s MLK Day of Service, participating in restoring the environment of Madrona Park.
A recipient of the U.S. Bank Minority Scholarship for the 2009-2010 academic year, James plans to go to graduate school and study either marketing or communications. His future plans also include continuing to work with KHSA in raising relief funds for the recent victims of the devastating Haiti earthquake.
*Student Photos by Mary Levin, UW Photography