“I’ve been called stupid, but I didn’t let that stop me,” says Sharon Hunter, 2014 Chancellor’s Medal winner. She’s an inspirational example of the role that confidence plays in achievement.
Sharon grew up on five rural acres in south Kitsap County. She remembers 5th grade and wanting to be a “gene splicer,” even though she had no idea what that meant. But she knew it meant being a scientist doing research, and she held that image in her mind through the years that intervened.
After a stint in Alaska running a photography studio, and a great eight years at a technology startup in Michigan that went bad when the company was acquired and she got laid off, Sharon was lured back to the Pacific Northwest. Her mother remembered her interest in science and sent her a flyer for an environmental science program at Olympic College.
By that time a single mom with two kids, Sharon’s 5th-grade optimism had wavered. When an Olympic College counselor suggested that what she really needed was a four-year degree, Sharon’s immediate thought was that she would never be able to deal with the hardcore math and science requirements.
But with the support of her mother and her academic mentors, Sharon gave it a try—and she aced it. She found that she loved it, and that she could do it.
Now, after three years at UW Tacoma, Sharon raves about the importance of small classes, hands-on involvement with research, outstanding professors—“there are just tons of opportunities!” The list of her internships, capstone projects, community engagements and undergraduate honors is truly impressive. She has an undying love for the campus, and a newly-indestructible sense that she can make it as a woman in science.
John Burkhardt, Advancement, firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-692-4536