Undergraduate Academic Affairs

February 12, 2018

2016-17 President’s Medalists announced

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

For nearly 40 years, the University of Washington has celebrated the top undergraduate in each class by awarding them the President’s Medalist distinction. Selected by a committee for their high GPA, rigor of their classes and number of Honors courses, this year’s recipients feature three well-rounded students who excel in both the sciences and the arts. Freshman medalist Grace Wang is an aspiring pediatrician with a strong background in violin and visual art. Sophomore medalist, Isabelle Tully wants to be a psychology professor by day and poet by night. And junior medalist, Alder Strange splits her time between the lab and stage as a biochemistry and musical theater double major. These exceptional students will be recognized at a reception with President Ana Mari Cauce, and this award will be listed on the student’s permanent academic record.

Meet this year’s medalists:

Grace Wang, freshman medalist

Major: biochemistry (pre-med)
Expected graduation: 2020

Grace Wang holds her drawings.

Growing up in the Waldorf educational tradition, Grace Wang learned early on the importance of having children explore the world through their own senses. This natural curiosity and excitement for learning drew her to the interdisciplinary Honors Program, which integrates discussion-based learning and experiential learning. A pre-med biochemistry student with the goal of becoming a pediatrician, Wang recently joined a qualitative clinical research team at Seattle Children’s. Along with her team, she is working on improving care coordination for medically complex cases through cloud-based care plans. Outside of research, Wang plays violin in chamber groups on campus and even started her own business teaching violin to children. An avid artist, she also volunteers as an illustrator for the undergraduate neuroscience journal, Grey Matters, where she is able to combine her love of art with her interest in scientific research. For now, her dedication to helping people is clear. She is a founding member of Synapse at the University of Washington, an organization that connects people with traumatic brain injuries to resources in the greater community, and volunteers as a healing music volunteer at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). In this role, she plays welcoming and soothing violin music in waiting rooms throughout SCCA.

Isabelle Tully, sophomore medalist

Major: psychology
Minor: writing
Expected graduation: 2019

Isabelle Tully types on an old-fashioned typewriter.

Going to college can be daunting, especially when you come in as a younger student through the Robinson Center’s UW Academy, which is exactly what Isabelle Tully did. However, Tully worked hard to find her place. “I live with a group of wonderful roommates and am so thankful to be in such a supportive environment on campus…. The people and opportunities I am surrounded with have confirmed choosing this path was the right decision.” The psychology major recently joined Dr. Lori Zoellner’s lab to work on Project STEP and Dr. Lynn Katz’s lab as a research assistant for a study on children who display low pro-social behavior. Under the guidance of Dr. Curtis Hisayasu and Dr. Henry Laufenberg, Tully discovered her passion for teaching while working as a teaching assistant for UW Academy students. This combination of research and teaching solidified Tully’s career goal: working in academia as a psychology professor and researcher. Eager to take advantage of the opportunities available at UW, Tully tried a couple of service learning classes, and discovered two wonderful organizations — Seattle Against Slavery (part of a class on human trafficking class) and the North Helpline Food Bank (part of a sociology class.) Tully’s love of experiential learning also led her to a study abroad trip through Italy, studying migration across the Mediterranean Sea, which she describes as “life-changing.” A writing minor, Tully hopes to one day publish a book of poetry in addition to her academic career.

Alder Strange, junior medalist

Majors: biochemistry, musical theater
Expected graduation: 2020

Photo of Alder Strange at ballet barre.

Hailing from Seattle, Strange dreamt of attending the UW as a little girl. Now that she is a Husky, Strange is taking advantage of all the opportunities: “I have many diverse passions, and I am thrilled to be able to pursue so many of them at UW.” A biochemistry and musical theater double major, Strange also participates in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. Through Honors, she’s taken advantage of several unique learning-beyond-the-classroom opportunities, including a natural history field study course and study abroad trip to Ecuador. Outside of class, you can catch Strange in one of her many co-curriculars: In the lab, as a researcher in Dr. Cole DeForest’s lab where she investigates the application of a new protein to the hydgrogel-based systems of drug delivery. On the soccer field, as a regular member of her pick-up soccer team. At her old elementary school with Professor Marjorie Olmstead, teaching math to students. And, on stage, as part of the UW’s production of Anything Goes. With the long-term goal of being a pediatrician and researcher, she is excited to draw from her broad interests to find balance.