Undergraduate Academic Affairs

February 8, 2024

Celebrating the 2022–23 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.

Sayako Mitchell, Ayush Agrawal and Cin Dacey Ahrens are the medalists for 2022–23, selected by a committee for their high GPAs, rigor of classes and number of Honors courses. All three are students in the University Honors Program, completing the Interdisciplinary Honors track.

Drawn to the UW for its academic reputation, each of these Huskies has carved out a unique path — exploring their chosen areas of study, ranging from computer science to applied mathematics and linguistics.

The three medalists will be recognized by University President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Tricia Serio 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 Sayako Mitchell

Major: Applied mathematics: data science

Hometown: Sammamish, WA

Although she’s the child of a UW alum, Sayako Mitchell wasn’t sure she wanted to go to college so close to her home in Sammamish. But the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately changed her mind because it underscored the importance of being near her family and community.

Mitchell came to the UW with a variety of interests, which she has explored by taking a wide range of classes, from classics to STEM, and working in the UW’s Tateuchi East Asia Library. She chose to major in applied mathematics: data science because the skills she’s learning apply to many fields.

She also developed a fascination with linguistics after an introductory class inspired her to take several others.

“Linguistics strikes an interesting balance between the humanities and the sciences,” says Mitchell, who is now considering a linguistics minor. “There are many opportunities to use applied mathematics and data science to further research in this field.”

After graduation, Mitchell hopes to combine her skills in applied math and linguistics to investigate natural language processing and directly affect change in the field.

In her free time, Mitchell is a regular in Seattle’s robust live music scene, where she loves the togetherness of the experience. “Despite being strangers, for the duration of the show, I feel like I am friends with everyone in the crowd,” she explains.

Mitchell also likes taking walks to de-stress, adding that they’re a chance to familiarize herself with the lesser-known parts of campus and the U District.

Sophomore medalist Ayush Agrawal

Major: Computer science

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Ayush Agrawal’s love for programming and math began at an early age. He started creating small computer games in elementary school — and coding and computer science have captivated him ever since.

“I continue to find myself amazed at how the mechanisms of software can untangle complex problems into elegant, simple solutions,” Agrawal says. Those early fascinations eventually led him to the University of Washington’s Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

At the UW, Agrawal shares his passion for coding with fellow Huskies as a teaching assistant for an introduction to computer programming class.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to make an impact on other students and be a part of their academic journeys,” he says, adding that it’s important to him to pay forward to other students the support he’s received.

Agrawal is also an undergraduate research assistant at the Allen School’s Robot Learning Lab, where he assists with research advancing knowledge about robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Outside of his classes, he works as a software engineering intern in Amazon’s Kindle publishing division. He also loves to hike and ski, and enjoys cooking and baking because of the transformation of ingredients into something “greater than the sum of its parts.”

In the future, Agrawal hopes to pursue a graduate degree in computer science and discover ways to use technology to improve the world.

“The most powerful part of computer science is not just the amazing technology but what comes next,” he says. “How can I use computer science to create something that betters our society?”

Freshman medalist Cin Dacey Ahrens

Majors: Computer science and mathematics

Hometown: White Salmon, WA

In high school, Cin Dacey Ahrens designed and programmed robots with her twin and another friend — a “tiny but powerful” robotics team that helped spark her interest in computer science and draw her to the University of Washington.

“By the time I was done with my first computer science class at the UW, I knew it was the path for me,” Ahrens says. “I’ve always loved learning, and computer science is a field of continual learning.”

Additionally, after taking a linear algebra class last fall, she rekindled her love for math and decided to double-major in the subject.

Outside the classroom, Ahrens puts her computer programming and linear algebra skills to work as a data science intern for King County’s Water and Land Resources Division. There, she designs and implements machine learning models to predict flooding around Lake Sammamish. She also loves to read, lift weights, draw and play music.

After graduation, Ahrens hopes to work in a computer science-related position or attend graduate school.

Pursuing a STEM-related career has been Ahrens’ dream since high school, but she says her journey hasn’t been easy. As a child, she attended speech and occupational therapy, and was placed in lower-level classes in school. A teacher even advised her against attending the UW because of its rigor.

“An award like this reminds me that despite all of that, I really do belong here at the UW,” she says of her experience. “It’s also a reminder that where you are at any given moment isn’t an indication of how smart you are or how much you can achieve.”