University of Washington freshman, sophomore, and junior medalists were recently selected for their high scholastic standing and difficulty of coursework. The 2014 president’s medalists are undergraduate scholars of the highest caliber. Their academic pursuits show interdisciplinary interests and their co-curricular and extracurricular activities tell us about students who bring their classroom energy and commitment to a host of other interests. They are truly interesting individuals.
Jeffrey Lee is the freshman medalist; Megan Kufeld is the sophomore medalist; and Connor Lynch is the junior medalist. The senior medalist is announced close to commencement.
The freshman medal is awarded to the sophomore who has the highest scholastic standing for the first year of his or her coursework. The sophomore medal is awarded to the junior with the highest scholastic standing for the first two years of his or her coursework and the junior medal goes to the senior with the highest scholastic standing for the first three years of his or her coursework. Selection of the medalists is based primarily on grade point average but rigor and quality of the student’s program are additional considerations.
Jeffrey Lee, Freshman Medalist
- Majors: Neurobiology and Philosophy
- Minor: Music
- Hometown: Kent, WA
- Additional Honors/Awards: 2012 Valedictorian at Kentwood High School, 2012 Kentwood Student of the Year in Science, History, and Music
Jeffrey Lee’s aim is to take full advantage of the breadth of classes and opportunities afforded undergraduates at the University of Washington. He says, “My goal is to come out of college with comprehensive skills and knowledge, not only for use in my future job, but as a way to find personal happiness. I want to use what I learn to inform and guide decisions I make in the future.”
For Honors student Lee, that future includes medical school. He is specifically interested in learning about the brain so he can better “appreciate how this measly three-pound hunk of tissue wedged between our ears has so much capacity for curiosity and innovation.” Lee plans to pursue research that combines eastern and western modalities to better understand holistic approaches to medicine. He wants to help people from all backgrounds realize good health so they may fulfill their goals, and looks forward to the intellectual challenge that would come with practicing medicine. “One of my favorite parts of volunteering at Seattle Children’s,” Lee says, “is hearing how a family’s background influences their philosophy and outlook on life. I simply delight in listening to each individual’s story, learning something new and important in every conversation.”
Currently a volunteer in the Child Life Department at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Lee has also participated in research there, and he manages to find time to tutor English and chemistry for Tutor.com. Lee graduated from Kentwood High School in 2012 and participated in the Running Start program at Green River Community College. Outside of his academic, research, volunteer and work endeavors, Lee is an avid photographer, and enjoys playing piano, reading and working out.
Megan Kufeld, Sophomore Medalist
- Major: Biology
- Hometown: Fremont, CA
- Additional Honors/Awards: Pac-12 All-American 1st Team, All Pac-12 Honorable Mention Team, Team-voted MVP, District 8 Capital One Academic All District 1st Team, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week
Among her distinctions, Honors student Megan Kufeld is the starting goalkeeper for the University of Washington’s women’s soccer team, truly embodying the term “student-athlete.” As a soccer player in the Pac-12, she is “competing in one of the top conferences in the nation, yet I’m also a bio major and in the Honors Program enjoying the new knowledge and perspectives that I learn through my classes.”
Kufeld plans to continue her soccer career after graduation, hoping to compete professionally in Europe. After that, she plans to earn a graduate degree and eventually work in a biomedical field. “It’s very interesting to me how we can discover and understand the molecular and cellular innerworkings of the human body allowing for the production of diagnostics, preventatives, and treatments that improve health and well-being.”
In addition to playing on the UW women’s soccer team, Kufeld is a member of the Washington Student Athlete Advisory Committee, is a team member for the Seattle Sounders Women team, and was in the United States Under-23 National Team player pool. Kufeld balances her academics and athletics as equally important parts of her life. She hopes to show fellow student-athletes that it is possible to excel in both academics and athletics, thereby eroding some of the negative stereotypes that surround student-athletes.
Connor Lynch, Junior Medalist
- Majors: Physics and Russian
- Minor: Mathematics
- Hometown: Wenatchee, WA
- Additional Honors/Awards: High-School Valedictorian, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate Award 2011, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics Honors Society), Physics Gregory Lynn Andersen Scholarship 2013, Annual Dean’s Lists 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2012-2013
“I love learning things,” says Connor Lynch. “It is one of the best feelings when new ideas make sense.” Lynch, an Honors student, decided to major in physics because it “offers models for phenomena that occur around us daily.” Following his interest in the discipline, he’s been a researcher in physics professor Xiaodong Xus’ nanoscale optoelectronics laboratory.
As a teenager in high school, Lynch began learning Russian with a private tutor. He loved it so much he decided to major in Russian as well as physics. In the summer of 2011, he spent six weeks in Moscow to attend a Russian course. Lynch also participates in the UW Russian club.
Lynch credits his parents with teaching him the “benefits of studying well and appreciating my learning opportunities.” Outside of academics, Lynch enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies and skateboarding with his brother (a 2013 UW chemistry graduate). After graduation, he plans to work in an area related to his degrees and continue his physics and Russian education through a graduate degree.