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Louie Vital

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Louie Vital

Junior

Area of research
Political Science
Communication
Comparative History of Ideas

Supported by
Mary Gates Research Scholarship
College of Arts & Sciences General Scholarship Fund

“The UW is the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Louie, who — through her passion for academics, leadership and study abroad — is forging a lasting Husky network at home and around the world.

Louie Vital didn’t expect to come across Huskies living in León when she studied in the Spanish city last August. Nor did she anticipate meeting UW alumni in a Philippines nightclub a few weeks prior. But in the course of back-to-back study abroad programs, the Marysville native realized the extent of her globe-spanning Husky connections.

“I had that network as a freshman,” she says. “It’s why I’ve been able to do everything I have in the last two years.”

Louie spent the first part of summer 2014 in the Philippines, where she investigated the lasting effects of colonialism. Next, she was off to León to study with the College of Arts & Sciences’ C21 program, in which students across a range of disciplines — from biology to informatics — are redefining 21st century liberal arts education.

“We were given a beautiful environment in which to flourish,” says Louie of the scholarship-supported trip.

She’s come a long way from her early days as self-described “lonely commuter student” to fully engaged Husky. Her world opened up dramatically when she moved onto campus and threw herself into volunteerism and academics. It wasn’t long before Louie had won a Mary Gates Research Scholarship and embarked on an ambitious project: an examination of swine flu and xenophobia. After navigating a steep learning curve, she presented her findings alongside 1,000 of her peers at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Louie plans to study abroad again (India is on her list), and dreams of becoming a U.S. diplomat to the Philippines. Back on campus, she’s a resident adviser to 60 undergrads in Mercer Court. Hanging proudly in her window is the Husky flag she carried to the Philippines and León. “It made me feel like a global citizen,” she says of the journey. “I’m a Husky at a world-class institution.”