Undergraduate Academic Affairs

December 29, 2013

There’s no one way to be a Husky

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

There are nearly 30,000 undergraduates at the University of Washington. That means 30,000 individual ways to be a UW Husky. The UW offers students countless opportunities to bring their academics beyond the classroom, grow as leaders, contribute to research, become global citizens, and serve our communities near and far.

Here, we learn about some particularly meaningful student experiences and realize even more that each UW experience is as unique as the student sharing it. We hope you enjoy reading about them. If you’d like to share your story, please email uaavpd@uw.edu.

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Christine Ito | Katharine Jung | Guillermo Romano | Riabelle Vivas

Christine Ito, senior

  • Major: Early Childhood and Family Studies
  • Minor: Education, Learning, and Society (ELS) and Diversity
  • Hometown: Redmond, WA
  • Involved In: Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center, Dream Project, First Year Programs, Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards, Pipeline Project
Picture of Christine Ito

Christine Ito at UW’s Homecoming in 2012.

After graduation “I am entering the master’s in teaching program for elementary education at the University of Washington. I plan on teaching K-8 education throughout the state of Washington.”

Did you always want to be a Husky?

Ever since the 4th grade, I have wanted to attend the University of Washington. My teacher, Mrs. Reyhons, was a fanatic Husky with classroom walls that screamed purple and gold. I looked up to her so much as a teacher and decided to follow her footsteps to pursue my master’s in teaching at the UW. Since this moment, I have paved a pathway into education as a classroom volunteer, inclusion specialist, curriculum reviewer, College of Education Student Leadership Award recipient, and peer instructor at the college level.

Is there a decision you made that you didn’t give much thought to at the time but, in retrospect, turned out to make a big impact in your life?

In my junior year, I was named to the UW’s Homecoming Court for my academic achievement, community involvement, campus leadership, and school spirit. This has been one of the greatest honors to have experienced and has made my career as a Husky so worthwhile.”

I applied on a whim to be a Campus Tour Guide with the Office of Admissions Campus Visit Program.  Prior to this application, I was considerably shy and was not particularly keen on speaking in front of large audiences. However, this position has really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and ended up being one of my favorite jobs throughout college. The application process was one of the most stressful parts: there was a group interview and a final interview. Unsure if I would even pass the application round, I ended up in the final interview with the news that 12 of us would be hired out of over 200 applicants—totally surreal!

After several training sessions and peering through the handbook of tour guide facts, I began giving tours to prospective students and their families. I never hesitate now when giving tours to big groups, as I truly love getting to share the beauty of the UW to anyone who will lend an ear. This experience encapsulates my years as a Husky, for I get to reflect on all of my highlights and pass on school spirit to future Huskies.

What was something you didn’t expect to experience at the UW that changed your direction, perspective, or thoughts?

One program that really made an impact on my experience at the UW would be the Pipeline Project’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB). I was fortunate to participate in this program twice and currently work behind the scenes to organize it with Director Christine Stickler. ASB is a program that connects undergraduate students with K-12 students in rural and tribal communities across the state of Washington. I spent my spring break assisting elementary school students in both Tonasket and Neah Bay, WA, explore their identity through literacy projects. At the end of the week, these stories are then compiled into a magazine and sent to schools in an effort to connect and unify all of the students from across the state.

These two experiences have easily been my favorite moments at the UW; as a teacher, I hope to inspire children through diversity, multiculturalism, and exploration of identity. ASB has provided me with so many instructional tools and stories of compassion to help propel me forward with my education and expand my vision as an educator. My team members on these journeys have also opened my eyes to various methods of teaching that have helped me grow.


Katharine Jung, senior

  • Major: Accounting
  • Hometown: Gig Harbor, WA
  • Involved in: Undergraduate Research Program
Picture of Katharine Jung

Katharine Jung at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

I’m currently finishing up my senior year and plan to intern in Los Angeles this summer with Deloitte before beginning a master’s of accounting program next fall.

Did you always want to be a Husky?

Growing up, I never thought I would become a UW Husky, but I think it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve made. Originally, I wanted to go to an out-of-state school, but with costs of tuition and a world-class institution right here, I made a last minute decision to stay in the Pacific Northwest, and I couldn’t be happier. UW provided everything I hoped for during my undergraduate experience. I was thankful for Pac-12 sports, the support of a strong business program, and the opportunity to meet the fantastic students and staff that contribute to the vibrant and welcoming culture on campus.

Is there a decision you made that you didn’t give much thought to at the time but, in retrospect, turned out to make a big impact in your life?

Applying directly to my major as an incoming freshman. Not only did it save me time and stress, but I was able to begin taking more focused classes right away and get more value out of my education.

What was something you didn’t expect to experience at the UW that changed your direction, perspective, or thoughts?

I did not expect the sense of community you feel within your major. No one can deny that UW is a huge school, and I never realized the importance of finding a niche. I found mine in the business school. Having the support of a smaller community helped me become more involved in activities, such as undergraduate research and the honors finance organization Beta Alpha Psi, that allowed me to further explore my interests, network with professionals and students, and gain a group of friends.


Guillermo Romano, ’13

  • Major: Biochemistry and Public Health
  • Minor: Chemistry
  • Hometown:  Mexico City, Mexico
  • Involved In: Honors Program, Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards, Undergraduate Research Program
Picture of Guillermo Romano

Guillermo Romano in the lab where he works.

“I am a research scientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Working under the guidance of David Rawlings, I’m working on a gene therapy project that aims at making human cells immune to HIV using novel gene editing technology. “

Was there an experience outside the classroom that impacted what direction you wanted to go?

The single most important experience of my undergraduate degree was participating in undergraduate research. At the beginning of my sophomore year, my parents were both laid off as a result of the economic crisis. Immediately after, my coaching job at a local pool became a critical part of my family’s livelihood, and I moved back home despite a 90-minute one-way bus commute. In many ways my academics became a second priority.

When I joined Dustin Maly’s lab in my junior year, my academic curiosity was reinvigorated. Not only did the lab become a “home base” for me (very important to commuters), but it gave me a broader context within which to place my education. In classes, I no longer wondered if the content on the slides would be on the next midterm. More often than not, I was fascinated by the connections I could draw between the lectures I was attending and the research our lab was conducting. In this way, I was able to take advantage of the many opportunities that UW faculty offer to their students. The research I did in the Maly Lab taught me valuable techniques and skill sets that I have carried beyond my undergraduate experience.


Riabelle Vivas, senior

  • Major: Social Welfare
  • Minor: Diversity
  • Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
  • Involved In: Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center, Global Opportunities, Honors Program, Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards, Pipeline Project
Picture of Riabelle Vivas

Riabelle Vivas on a study abroad trip in Cambodia.

After graduation, I will attend graduate school to attain my master of social work degree. I aspire to work with others who have endured injustice and oppression and to further address social issues on a macro level through creating programs and policies. Once I gain more fieldwork experience, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in social welfare with a focus on community empowerment practices.

Was there an experience outside the classroom that impacted what direction you wanted to go?

During the summer I was fortunate to study abroad in Cambodia through the School of Social Work with financial assistance from the Global Opportunities Scholarship. Out of the many activities we accomplished during our month abroad, the most memorable was visiting communities and nonprofit organizations. In particular, I felt incredibly inspired by the Boeung Kak Lake activists, a group of women fighting for their land rights. Hearing these women tell stories about their struggle for human rights and social justice was powerful. This experience reaffirmed my passion for social justice issues and further developed my understanding of the importance of community building. My study abroad experience opened my eyes to expanding social justice advocacy efforts from local to global.

What moment turned out to be a turning point for you?

Flashing back to my freshman year, if you asked me if I saw myself as a leader I would have said no, but being a student at UW for the past three years has shown me that leadership is more than just being the president of a club. My time here has shown me that leadership is a way of carrying yourself, through your words and your actions, and the relationships you build. The experiences I have had as a Mary Gates Leadership Scholar and a Carlson Civic Fellow continuously challenge me to keep growing as a leader. My involvement with the Husky Leadership Initiative has helped me recognize the importance of spreading leadership to others and has led to supporting other students in seeking their leadership potential.