Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

2016 Celebration Scholarship Recipients


Ruben Reyes

Ruben Reyes
President’s Achievement Award
Majors: Interdisciplinary Visual Arts & Pre-Dentistry

Ruben grew up in the Eastern Washington town of Quincy where his father worked in the fields. From a young age, he felt responsible for his family’s success, especially after the death of his mother and his father’s struggle with alcoholism. Ruben thought he could best help his younger brother and sister by setting an example for them. As a junior in high school, he commuted 45 minutes each way to Big Bend Community College to participate in a Running Start Program while working a few different jobs. Ruben became the first in his family to graduate from college when he received his associate’s degree with a 3.81 grade point average. Since transferring to the UW, he has continued to excel academically and engage in leadership opportunities. Ruben founded an organization called Leaders del Futuro to help students from farmworker families with one-on-one peer mentorship. After earning his bachelor’s degree in June, Ruben intends to start dental school in the fall. He plans to become a dentist so that he can return to rural, underserved areas in Eastern Washington and help communities most in need.


Mariama Suwaneh

Mariama Suwaneh
Wells Fargo Vice President’s Achievement Award
Major: Political Science
Minor: Diversity

A first-generation college student who has faced her share of poverty and adversity, Mariama has used her challenges to excel as an advocate for equity and social justice both on campus and in the greater community. After starting her high school’s Black Student Union, she immediately became involved in the UW BSU during her freshman year and has served in various leadership roles. Mariama also participates in Sisterhood and R.E.T.R.O. Revolutionary Poets, is the vice president of communications for Black Campus Ministries and is a student coordinator with First-Year Programs. Her service in the community has included working with the Seattle Mayor’s Council for African American Elders and doing an independent study course with Elmer Dixon, co-founder of the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Mariama also works with the Eastside Race & Leadership Coalition helping develop strategic plans and events. After she graduates next year, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in organizational management and later own a diversity consulting firm that will help organizations create more equitable hiring practices and working conditions that are inclusive for individuals from all racial backgrounds.


Brian Amoeni

Brian Amoeni
Murray, Pitre, Baker, Rosebaugh Scholar
Major: Physics

“I’m an aspiring physicist in pursuit of a doctoral degree, and am determined to impact the world by pioneering the forefronts of discovery. My immediate goal is to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a graduate degree, and my lifetime goal is to assist in making technological singularity a reality.”


Alvin Benavides

Alvin Benavides
Bank of America Scholar
Major: Business Administration

“After college I hope to work professionally with my passion which is marketing in the fashion industry. My ultimate goal is to do something I love while financially supporting my family.”


Lyndsey Brollini

Lyndsey Brollini
Robert T. and Nancy J. Knight Scholar
Major: Journalism

“I believe that what matters most in life is happiness, not just for myself but for others as well. I’ll do anything I can to work towards that goal of improving my life and those around me.”


Ana Gomez

Ana Gomez
Lydia A. Gonzales Scholar
Major: Bioengineering

“My plan is to attend graduate school and participate in bioengineering research that pertains to technologies for expanding access to healthcare and global health. I hope that the research I conduct and find interesting contributes to lowering the cost of health care while improving its quality.”


Peter Graef

Peter Graef
QFC Scholar
Major: Communication

“After graduation I intend to pursue my goal of earning a master’s degree in business with a focus on marketing. After that, it is my ultimate goal to found a non-profit advocacy group that is run for, and by, people with serious mental health conditions in order to raise these issues to the forefront and make them a respected civil rights issue in public discourse.”


Nicole Harris

Nicole Harris
Dr. Millie Russell Scholar
Major: Comparative History of Ideas

“After graduation I plan to obtain my Ph.D. I believe in the proverb “Each One Teach One,” and hope to inspire my community while giving back to them.”


Kathleen Kouthong

Kathleen Kouthong
Gary D. Kimura Family Scholar
Major: Materials Science & Engineering

“After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I want to pursue a graduate degree in either business or materials science. I believe everyone has the right to an education and I would like to continue to do outreach work to help other underrepresented students to achieve their educational goals.”


Gordon Kaeo'Okalani Maeha

Gordon Kaeo’Okalani Maeha
Pitre Instructional Center Tutor
Major: Biochemistry

“After graduation, I plan to attend medical school and become a doctor. Eventually I hope to return home to Hawai’i so I can provide my services to the Native Hawaiian community that raised me to be the person I am today.”


Adaurennaya Onyewuenyi

Adaurennaya Onyewuenyi
Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program Scholar
Learning Sciences & Human Development
Doctoral Student

“I plan to earn my doctorate degree and become a female faculty of color who will produce high quality research on ethnicity, immigration and adolescent development that can change the educational trajectories of future Black American and African immigrant students in the K-12 education system.”


Adriana Perrusquia

Adriana Perrusquia
Robert T. and Nancy J. Knight Scholar
Major: Business Administration

“After graduation, I plan to pursue my dream of helping underserved communities by working to reduce suicide rates as well as encouraging students to stay in school and not drop out.”


Kaid Ray-Tipton

Kaid Ray-Tipton
University of Washington Athletic Scholar
Majors: Sociology & Communication

“After graduation I plan to do research on policies that perpetuate inequality, and I hope to alleviate these problems for disadvantaged communities.”


Elisabeth Bedolla RochaElisabeth Bedolla Rocha
School of Medicine Scholar
Doctorate of Medicine Candidate

“As a family medicine doctor, I plan to work with underserved and marginalized communities while continuing to mentor and strengthen the pipeline for the next generation of underrepresented minatory students in medicine and higher education.”


Monique Smith

Monique Smith
Del Rio Global Citizens Scholar
Major: Business Administration (Finance)

“Currently, I intern with the City of Seattle on a team that supports small businesses run by people from traditionally underserved communities. After graduation, I hope to continue working with underserved communities while pursuing a career and further education in the field of business.”


Veronica Sun

Veronica Sun
Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program Legacy Scholar
Major: Business Administration (Human Resources Management)

“After graduation I plan to empower women and minorities by fostering diversity in the business world. I want to inspire the Cambodian community to see that drive, resilience and pursuing a higher education can lead you to success.”


Betelhem Yohannes

Betelhem Yohannes
William P. and Ruth Gerberding/Early Identification Program Scholar
Major: Bioengineering

“I hope to pursue a career in medicine and apply my training in bioengineering towards developing easily accessible and cost-effective solutions to health care problems.”