Undergraduate Academic Affairs

February 23, 2023

Celebrating the 2021–22 Undergraduate Medalists

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

From the thousands of undergraduate students at the University of Washington, three are selected each year for the prestigious President’s Medalist Award.

Olivia Brandon, Peyton Goodwin and Anaëlle Enders are the medalists for 2021–22, selected by a committee for their high GPAs, rigor of classes and numbers of Honors courses. All three are students in the University Honors Program, completing the Interdisciplinary Honors track.

Each of them came to the UW eager to explore, and curiosity sparked a passion for their chosen areas of study, ranging from neuroscience to comparative history of ideas to education, communities and organizations.

The three medalists will be recognized by University President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Mark Richards at a special reception, where each recipient will receive their medal in front of family, friends and mentors.

Read on to learn how these exceptional students embody the Husky Spirit. 


Junior medalist Olivia Brandon

Majors: Neuroscience and public health–global health

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Olivia Brandon, junior medalist.

Olivia Brandon became fascinated with the study of human physiology during an introductory survey class — and that has shaped her UW journey.

Realizing her true passion, she packed her schedule with chemistry, biology and global health classes. She landed on neuroscience after learning about brain pathology as a research assistant in UW Medicine’s Neonatal Neuroscience Lab.

In her research role, Brandon works closely with UW faculty to help develop treatments for babies at risk for encephalopathy. “Being able to ask a scientific and medical question, create the database, extract the necessary variables, analyze the data and convey the information has sparked the scientist in me,” says Brandon, who also received a Washington Research Foundation fellowship. This year, she plans to present at the Pediatric Academic Societies medical conference and recently had her first article as a lead author published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Brandon, who was also recognized as a sophomore medalist, says this award reaffirms her commitment to getting the most out of her time at the UW. Inspired by her lab mentors and her parents, she plans to attend medical school after graduation to become a physician, as well as an advocate for equity in global and public health systems.

“I am constantly inspired by the impact — small or global — an individual can have in the medical and scientific world,” says Brandon, who is also majoring in public health–global health and hopes her future research helps improve global health challenges like infant mortality.

As an animal lover, Brandon also serves as president of the UW equestrian team, volunteers for an equine rescue and rehabilitation center, and fosters cats.


Sophomore medalist Peyton Goodwin

Major: Comparative history of ideas

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Peyton Goodwin, sophomore medalist.

Although Peyton Goodwin comes from a family of UW alumni, she had imagined leaving Seattle for college. But their hometown university eventually drew them back in, thanks to the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and the many opportunities, communities and courses the UW offers.

Interdisciplinary learning and curiosity have shaped Goodwin’s Husky Experience. “Reaching across disciplines and engaging with diverse, nuanced and especially underrepresented perspectives is essential to true learning and progress,” says Goodwin, who is majoring in comparative history of ideas (CHID), a program that draws from diverse subjects and encourages exploration.

When she first arrived at the UW, Goodwin says she worried about balancing her interests — especially her love for nature and wildlife — with her desire to help people. But they note that leaning on mentors like CHID Prof. María Elena García helped them carve out a personal, meaningful academic path where they can explore all their passions.

“Not limiting myself to one field of study has led people to ask me, ‘What are you going to do with all of this?’” says Goodwin, who is still exploring her post-graduation options. She adds: “Receiving this award demonstrates that when you are truly, deeply and unquestionably passionate about the work you do, it will be recognized.”

Outside of class, Goodwin is an honors peer educator, an Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) senator and a 2022 Husky 100 recipient. They recently performed in a student-run Stage Notes production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and interned with the ASUW’s Student Disability Commission.

Goodwin notes their personal journey has often been by shaped by their invisible disabilities, including anxiety and ADHD, which have required “time, energy, communication and, above all, resilience.”


Freshman medalist Anaëlle Enders

Major: Education, communities and organizations

Minor: Arabic

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Anaëlle Enders, one of three medalists for 2021–22.

Learning Arabic on her own in 2020 prepared Anaëlle Enders for a six-month, pre-college internship in Morocco, where she used the language daily. This gap-year experience in the country sparked Enders’ desire to keep studying Arabic when she began her studies at the UW — and the subject eventually became her minor.

Working with local youth in Agadir, Morocco, also helped Enders narrow down her interests and land on a major at the UW. “I witnessed how education can transform communities,” Enders says, adding that she chose the education, communities and organizations major because it pairs her “love of community engagement with social justice and learning.”

In the future, Enders hopes to find a career working for organizations involved in education reform, art therapy or both. She adds: “I would love to use my Arabic minor to communicate with people in their own language.”

For Enders, who grew up in Seattle, the UW was the best choice both financially and academically. Two years into her Husky journey, she feels an even greater sense of belonging through the honors program and her faith community. “Both communities push me to ask deeper questions about myself and the world,” Enders says. “I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Outside the classroom, Enders is a member of the Sayaw Filipino Folk Dance Troupe and interns at Urban Impact, a Seattle-based nonprofit. You can also find her designing and printing stickers at UW makerspaces — or trying new foods with her friends.