IN PHILMON’S WORDS: I became fascinated with China when I spent a year studying abroad at a Chinese high school. I made some of the best friends of my life there, people I connected with again when I spent my sophomore year studying the culture and language at a Chinese university.
Eventually, I’d like to draw from my experiences and become a diplomat. Private support from the UW’s Class of 1954 provided me a huge opportunity to get a taste for life in the Foreign Service this past summer. Their gift supported my internship at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, working in agricultural and labor issues. Basically, I spent every day talking to local Chinese people and migrants about their experiences living on farms or in the city. Then, I’d write up reports for the economics sector of the embassy.
The experience reaffirmed this feeling I’ve always had that people can relate to each other beyond borders – that we’re all global citizens.
My parents put that idea into my head as a child. As soldiers in the Eritrean civil war, they fled to Sudan as refugees – that’s where I was born, along with my four siblings. I was 10 years old when I got my U.S. citizenship and my mom told me, “Now that we’re in America, you have opportunities. So study hard.”
I’m thankful that the Class of 1954 gave me one of those opportunities. Their generosity helped set the course of my life in China and at the UW – now I’m excited to navigate that path toward serving my country as a proud Husky.
Areas of study: International studies and anthropology
Big dream: To become a diplomat
Dreams supported by: Class of 1954 Endowed Scholarship, a 50th class reunion gift
“My University of Washington education was of great value to me. It helped launch my career and my path in life. I hope that by volunteering and giving back, I can help provide the same opportunity to others. My wife Jean and I set up a fellowship in Engineering, and we support the Class of ’54 scholarship to help students in other colleges as well. I got to know Philmon when I served on the selection committee. He’s clearly a young man headed for great heights.” – Tom Gibbs, ‘54
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Help more students like Philmon by contributing to the Class Reunion Funds.
UW classmates create meaningful gifts together
From preserving the cherry trees in the Quad to creating numerous student scholarships, the tradition of class giving has benefited the University of Washington, our students and the community in numerous ways. Class giving unites classmates in support of the UW and creates gifts that truly reflect the time they spent on campus.
Members of the Class of 2008 couldn’t help but notice the UW’s efforts at the forefront of campus sustainability when they were deciding on a class gift. Housing and Food Services had started sourcing more than half of the school’s food within 250 miles of campus, and administrators had begun incorporating renewable energy into campus operations.
Inspired by previous classes to create a gift that truly resonated with the time, the Class of 2008 created the Endowment for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability. “No generation has shown environmental stewardship like ours, with recycling, composting and the construction of green buildings,” says Tara Theoharis, co-chair of the Class of 2008 Senior Class Gift Council. “This gift wasn’t just a legacy we left behind, it was a time capsule showing our generation’s dedication to the environment.”
The Class of 2008 endowment funds the Husky Green Award, given to students, faculty and staff who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication to campus sustainability. The award annually recognizes six recipients, like Justin Hellier, who received a 2012 award for mentoring students interested in campus sustainability.
“Sustainability is one of the most critical challenges of our generation,” says Justin. “It asks if we can live in equitable relationship with the land and with each other, if we can leave our communities and our environment better than when we found it. I can’t imagine a more interesting or a more challenging thing for a student to get involved in.”
Whether it’s graduating seniors giving back or alumni honoring their graduating class, class giving is an important way of supporting the UW. In creating a class gift, classes thank those that came before them for their contributions, ensure that current and future UW students continue to receive outstanding educational opportunities and become part of a legacy of philanthropy here at the UW.
Recipients of the 2012 Husky Green Awards, which are funded by the Class of 2008 Endowment for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability. It’s one of numerous examples of UW class gifts that help students and the University.