UW News

August 29, 2023

The University of Washington’s Presidential Scholars — investing in tomorrow’s leaders

Each year, the University of Washington reviews thousands of applications from students who want to pursue their undergraduate studies at the state’s flagship university.

From this pool, the UW recognizes a handful of students who already exemplify the Husky spirit of leadership, empathy and community enrichment. These students are named Presidential Scholars.

Presidential Scholars receive $10,000 per undergraduate academic year and participate in a special leadership development program throughout their UW experience. In addition to their UW diploma, Presidential Scholars also receive a certificate in leadership.

There’s no scholarship application; admissions officials select these distinguished students from the application pool based on their values, rather than their academic accolades or financial need. Sometimes, student’s UW applications stand out on their own; other times, the UW hears about students from community leaders throughout the state including elected officials, school principals, district superintendents and heads of non-profit agencies.

The scholarship is open to all Washington residents.

student entrepreneur

Presidential Scholar Parker Ritzmann, a social entrepreneur from Spokane, runs a coffee business.University of Washington

Presidential Scholars elevate themselves and the people around them. They use their talent and creativity to innovate on behalf of their communities — whether by creating a new organization, program or app; telling the stories that have not yet been told; filling a gap in a political, scientific or artistic field; or developing new platforms to advocate for change.

The first cohort — a group of five — started in Fall 2018 thanks to a founding endowment from William and Pamela Ayer. Since then, 45 Presidential Scholars have been named.

student volunteer

Presidential Scholar Ava Vaughan, shown here volunteering in her hometown of Quilcene.University of Washington

The students are social entrepreneurs, computer scientists and community organizers. They hail from all corners of Washington — from Spokane, Wapato, Redmond and Seattle; from Ephrata, Kenmore, Gig Harbor and Goldendale.

To learn more about Presidential Scholars and the selection criteria, click here.