If the University of Washington were a swimming pool, Dawn Tuason has not only swam the length of it, she’s swam the width of it as well.
Involved in service, research, and scholarship, Dawn exemplifies the potential of a UW undergraduate experience like no other. Throughout her time as an undergraduate, Dawn has been a mentor and student leader in the Dream Project; she’s presented in the Undergraduate Research Symposium; she’s been involved in the Pipeline Project; she works at the front desk of the Center for Undergraduate Advising, Diversity, and Student Success; and more. She’s discovered a passion for early childhood education and has truly embraced all that the UW has to offer. Dawn just graduated and will begin her master’s degree in the UW College of Education next fall.
Here’s a glimpse at a typical day for Dawn.
As a commuter student from Renton, I wake up bright and early to start my emails to the various groups I’m a part of on campus.
I grab breakfast, make some tea, and take careful preparation in getting dressed because as a college student, looking windswept and rushed is almost too easy. If it’s Monday, I even wear heels. At 5’11”, I’m a powerhouse but I need the extra courage (aka the height) to get up in front of nearly 400 undergrads as a class facilitator for the Dream Project.
Public speaking is…an acquired taste. One I’m still learning how to do, but I know that someday, a student will see me and know that it’s possible for them to be just as courageous and trust that the support will be there to learn how to! I believe in doing something that scares me but will challenge me and change me for the better, in order to show others they can do it too.
I’m on the road, stuck in traffic with the windows up singing at the top of my lungs to any kind of music currently on rotation. This week, it’s music from Bizet’s opera, Carmen, and the musical Wicked. I’m heading to my yoga, weight lifting, or spin class. Exercise is easier if you just get it over with first thing in the morning.
I’m off to work at the Center for Undergraduate Advising, Diversity, and Student Success. As a student associate, I greet students; answer phone calls, and make the atmosphere a generally positive place. Anywhere from scheduling advising appointments, to best places to grab coffee on campus, I’m there to support undergraduate students.
9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
I’m in a blur of classes and snacking my lunch throughout the day. This quarter I’m taking my second year of American Sign Language, my global health class for my minor in global health, and since I’m majoring in early childhood and family studies, I take two to three courses involving early childhood development, psychology, and service learning. Service learning requires me to gain field experience with the population I’m intending to work with after I graduate. This year, I’m excited to volunteer and work with 1-2 year old toddlers close to campus. Incorporating my knowledge of American Sign Language, global health, and education not just into my daily routine, but to my future endeavors is something I get by staying connected through the services that UAA offers.
I visit the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity, the first department I ever connected with as an undergrad. I’ve participated in the Pipeline Project’s Alternative Spring Break program, the Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center, the Early Identification Program which is a support network for students interested in research and graduate school as supported through the McNair program, the Undergraduate Research Program, and the Mary Gates Endowment for Students. This year, I’m utilizing the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards in pursuit of funding for my graduate studies. I’m excited to see where life takes me next, but having access to financial and mentor support is fundamental to my success and I know they offer that at the center ten-fold.
If I’m not in a weekly lecture around this time, I’m back as a student associate at the advising office. It’s usually slow around 4 p.m. so I get to take a break at the front desk and do some homework as I wait for the CLUE evening shift to begin.
My Dream Project co-lead and I prep for our upcoming lecture and think of ways to engage our class, which allows us to critically think about how we can best support not just our high school students but ourselves as mentors outside of and within the high schools we serve.
After a full day of running around, it’s nice to release some pent up energy and head to my Zumba classes. I love to dance and move across the dance floor for one and a half glorious hours of fluid and flexible freedom.
I get home in time to watch my weekly TV dramas on Hulu, work on any homework or graduate school applications that I didn’t finish during my occasional breaks between classes, and have some peace and quiet to end my night!