Student Profiles

2016 Critical Language Scholar (Arabic)

Beleqsa Tamaami
Beleqsa Tamaami (Global Studies, Global Honors, BA’16) was selected for a 2016 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). She will be studying Arabic in an intensive summer language institute in Jordan.

Last fall, Beleqsa studied abroad at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco as a 2015 Gilman Scholar; she will be continuing her Arabic study in Jordan this summer. As the oldest sibling and the first in her family to attend college, Beleqsa has spent a lot of time convincing her parents that studying abroad is worthwhile and of great benefit to her. As a result of her own experience, Beleqsa is motivated to provide access to higher education opportunities such as study abroad to her siblings and other youth.

On campus, Beleqsa worked in the Center for Service and Leadership as the Spring Breakaway Coordinator. Her 2015 spring service project focused on mentoring youth at the Willie Stewart Reengagement Center alongside other UW Tacoma students and staff volunteers. Huge congratulations!

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Critical Language Scholarship provides fully funded overseas summer language institutes in fourteen foreign languages.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Lizeth Garcia
Huge congratulations to Lizeth Garcia, a 2013 graduate of the Politics, Philosophy and Economics program. She was selected to teach English in Brazil as a 2015-16 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA).

As the first UW Tacoma student to receive this award, she will be developing and leading language classes at a Brazilian teachers college and representing the U.S. abroad as a citizen ambassador.

Lizeth is the first in her family to graduate from college, and she has gained valuable tutoring experience while working with a local community organization that supports the education of Latino children. Since graduating from UW Tacoma, she’s worked as a legislative aide at King County Council. 

Maksim Rusev
Maksim Rusev (Accounting, BA ’15 & MAcc ’16) is a 2016-17 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Burgas, a city on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

Maksim is no stranger to international travel and language learning. He is proficient in Spanish, Russian, and Bulgarian, and studied abroad in St. Petersburg and Mexico as an undergraduate. He has family roots in Bulgaria and is now making the most of his Fulbright in Bulgaria: In addition to teaching at a secondary school, he started a speech and debate team that is competing all over the country, is coaching the school's basketball team, and started a language exchange cafe. Here's a brief video summarizing his first 100 days and pictures from his time in Bulgaria.

Sophie Nop
Sophie Nop (Computer Science & Systems, BS ‘16) has been offered a grant from the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program to Cambodia for 2017-18. 

She will be spending a year in Kralanh, Cambodia and plans to work with a local NGO on a participatory research project: Her goal is to better understand how mobile app development can advance digital literacy in rural areas, and how Cambodian youth interact with technology. Huge congratulations to Sophie and to everyone who’s taught, inspired, and supported her during her time at UW Tacoma. Sophie served as ASUWT president from 2015-16.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. Eligible applicants are U.S. citizens who will have a bachelor's degree before the start of the grant, but not yet a PhD. 

2016 Mary Gates Scholar

Brian McQuay
Law & Policy student Brian McQuay (BA ’16) received a 2016 Mary Gates Scholarship for his research on discrimination against transgender individuals in the workplace (mentor: Dr. Sarah Hampson).

For a more complete bio, please see his 2015 Gilman Scholarship entry below.

The Mary Gates Research Scholarship is a competitive scholarship for undergraduate UW students who’re engaged in faculty-guided research, scholarly or creative work in any field.

Gilman International Scholars

Najma Ali
Najma Ali (Environmental Science, BS ‘17) received a Summer 2016 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Spain. 
In addition to being a student, Najma works as a transfer peer advisor in our Office of Student Transition Programs. She will be studying abroad in Spain through UW Bothell’s Americans in Europe program. She looks forward to comparing questions of identity, diversity, and belonging between the U.S. and Spain.
Chelsea Huddy
Chelsea Huddy (Politics, Philosophy & Economics, Global Honors, BA ’17) received a Summer 2016 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Japan. 
Chelsea is headed to Kyushu University in Japan this summer. It was the music and animes of the Japanese TV show InuYasha that first drew her to Japan. While at Tacoma Community College, Chelsea worked with Japanese exchange students and started learning the language. As a former student at an alternative high school, she hopes to inspire other students like her to study abroad after her return. Chelsea also works in our Office of Student Transition Programs
Adriana Meraz-Gonzalez
Adriana Meraz-Gonzalez (incoming transfer student) received a Summer 2016 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in China. 
Adriana is an incoming transfer student from Tacoma Community College (TCC). She plans to major in Communications and will be studying abroad in China (East to West China Study Abroad) this summer. At TCC, she was founder and president of the Scholarship Club that helped students identify and apply for scholarships and financial aid. 
Diliman Abdulkader
Diliman Abdulkader (Politics, Philosophy, & Economics, BA ’16) received a Spring 2016 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Italy. 
In addition to being a student, Diliman served as a student senator, interned at Representative Derek Kilmer’s office, and has been raising awareness for Kurdish rights. He is also a student in our Global Honors Program. This past summer, he had the opportunity to study in China and is now looking forward to studying in Italy with a focus on European security. Academically, Diliman is most interested in international relations and human rights. He’s had a passion for politics since living in a refugee camp for seven years, after fleeing his home in Kurdistan. 
Aimee Huynh
Psychology student Aimee Huynh (BA ’16) is the recipient of a Spring 2015 Gilman Scholarship to Japan and spent a semester at Osaka University.

Aimee was excited to experience Japanese culture, study the language, try new foods and learn in a new country. 

Aimee has been interested in the Japanese language and culture for a long time: "My interest ... started in my childhood when my father and brother would have anime movie nights."

Law & Policy student Brian McQuay (BA ’16) spent the summer in China with UW Tacoma’s China: Past and Present program. He also received a 2016 Mary Gates Scholarship for his research on discrimination against transgender individuals in the workplace (mentor: Dr. Sarah Hampson).

He was born in a small town in Missouri and joined the National Guard after graduating from high school. He is also a student assistant in the Office of Student Engagement. 

Growing up in a small town, he never really thought that he would have a chance to travel outside of the United States, especially to China: “Chinese culture and history [have] always fascinated me, and with such a rich culture I am very excited to have the chance to study and explore [the] country". His academic interests are in human rights, gender and sexuality, and he is planning to pursue a graduate degree in Gender Studies. 

Faith Ramos (Sustainable Urban Development, BA ’16) will be studying abroad in the Netherlands, in a study abroad program that’s focused on urban design and society. 

Faith is a returning student; she built her first career in arts and other non-profits on only a high school education after she had to leave college for both familial and financial reasons. Faith is also UW Tacoma’s first ever Udall Scholar. 

Beleqsa Tamaami (Global Studies, Global Honors, BA ’16) studied abroad at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco in fall 2015. 

She hoped to learn more about Moroccan culture and study Arabic, a long-term personal goal of hers. She was also looking forward to experiencing her religion in a majority Muslim country, outside of the private sphere.

As the oldest in her family and a first generation college student, it was difficult explaining to her parents what study abroad is and what its benefits are. For this reason, Beleqsa is motivated to provide access to higher education opportunities such as study abroad to her siblings and youth from her community in the future.

On campus, Beleqsa worked in the Center for Service and Leadership as the Spring Breakaway Coordinator. Her 2015 spring service project focused on mentoring youth at the Willie Stewart Reengagement Center alongside other UW Tacoma students and staff volunteers.

Melissa Workman (Asian History, BA ‘16)  participated in UW Tacoma’s China: Past and Present program. In the fall of 2015, Melissa was also selected for the Gorton Center Global Leaders Program, a nine-month leadership development program at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Melissa is a transfer student who has been away from college for 17 years. She first received a Physical Therapist Assistant A.A.S. degree in 1998. During her time away from school, she lived all over the U.S. and Europe and discovered that she had a deep passion for history and culture.

She is currently studying Asian History and minoring in Asian Studies and Education while being a single mom to two young boys and working whenever she's not studying or parenting. She plans to pursue a Master’s in either Education or Library and Information Science after graduation.

Sponsored by the Department of State, the Gilman is a merit-based study abroad scholarship for Pell grant recipients. In 2014, Christine Brubaker-Holland (Healthcare Leadership) and Tiffany Fox (Global Studies) received Gilman Scholarships to China.

2015 Udall Scholar and Gilman International Scholar

Faith Ramos
Here's another UW Tacoma first: Faith Ramos (Sustainable Urban Development, BA ’16) received the prestigious Udall Scholarship. She’s one of only 50 students nationally to receive this honor.

She was also awarded a Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in the Netherlands this summer. 

Faith worked for fifteen years in arts and other non-profits before coming to UW Tacoma, including for National Parks programs that bring economically disadvantaged youth to the parks.  She also has a strong background in filmmaking and produced, shot, edited, and narrated the documentary “Heart & Sold,” which addresses gentrification in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood.

Faith is a returning student; she built her first career on only a high school education after she had to leave college for both familial and financial reasons.

She is currently an Urban Forestry intern for the City of Seattle and hopes to work on environmental justice issues long-term. As an undergraduate researcher, Faith is examining the links between urban forests and human health. Her research is guided by Drs. Matthew Kelley and Linda Ishem. Faith would also like to give special thanks to Gregory Lund and Mark Pendras for their ongoing encouragement and support.

The Udall Scholarship awards 50 scholarships to sophomore and junior level college students committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care.  The Udall Foundation seeks future leaders across a wide spectrum of environmental fields, including policy, engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, business, health, justice, and economics.

2015 Rangel Scholar

Omer Adam
Huge congratulations to Omer Adam. He is one of fifteen Rangel Scholars nation-wide and will be spending his summer in Washington D.C. participating in the Rangel International Affairs Summer Program.

There, he will learn about current issues in international affairs and acquire valuable skills to prepare him for a career in the field. He is most interested in how religion shapes foreign policy and hopes to improve relationships between the US and Muslim countries.

Omer’s journey has been a remarkable one: Born in Sudan, he immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13. He spoke Arabic at home and didn’t know any English when he first arrived. He is now a sophomore at UW Tacoma who is not only thriving academically but also mentoring high school students through the Students Together Empowering Personal Success (STEPS) program. It doesn’t end there; he is active in the Muslim Student Organization, works at our Teaching and Learning Center and as an IT Student Assistant as well. His faculty mentor is Turan Kayaoglu. 

In 2015, the program selected 15 Scholars out of over 500 applications. Omer is the first UW Tacoma student to be chosen for this prestigious program and only the second UW student in the program’s history.

The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program six-week summer program designed to provide undergraduate students with a deeper appreciation of current issues, trends, and careers in international affairs.

2015 Tillman Scholar

James Chally
James Chally was selected as a 2015 Tillman Scholar, one of only 60 nationwide.

Shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree, James enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Counterintelligence Agent and later became a Green Beret. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq earning two Bronze Star Medals for his service. While deployed to Afghanistan he conducted village stability operations and helped to establish the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program.

As a post-bac student at UW Tacoma, James took prerequisite classes for the Physician Assistant program he will be starting at the UW Seattle campus this summer. He was a founding member and treasurer of the Student Veterans Association on campus. Long term, he hopes to practice and provide access to healthcare both in the rural Midwest and in Southeast Asia.

The Tillman Foundation provides scholarships for veteran and active-duty students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential, and a strong service orientation. 

2015 Bonderman Fellow

Kevin Bogue
Congratulations to Kevin Bogue (Sustainable Urban Development, BA ‘15) for receiving a 2015 Bonderman Travel Fellowship!

Kevin has a strong interest in the construction, environmental stewardship, and continued development of urban centers. As a Bonderman Fellow, he plans to explore urban environments throughout Southeast Asia, Turkey, as well as Southern and Eastern Europe. He hopes to return with new and exciting ideas about more sustainable approaches to urban planning and development.

The Bonderman Travel Fellowship provides $20,000 to fourteen UW students every year for eight months of solo travel to at least six different countries in two main world regions. 

North American Language and Culture Assistant to Spain, 2015-16

Carmen Valenzuela-Burger (Global Studies, BA '14)

Like many transfer students, I had bounced around a bit before settling into UW Tacoma. I originally came from my home of Portland, Oregon looking for some new scenery, unsuspecting of the catalyst this campus would turn out to be. It became apparent when I seized a study abroad opportunity at the end of my junior year. I studied international law and human rights in Ireland and the Netherlands, a program that aligned perfectly with my own personal interests as well as my major, Global Studies.

Studying abroad allowed me to work as a Study Abroad Ambassador in the Office of International Programs upon my return, a role that I thoroughly embraced until I graduated in 2014. It was my responsibility, along with the other Study Abroad Ambassadors, to promote UW Tacoma’s study abroad programs and to assist students in their international endeavors.

As a first generation student, I felt incredibly proud to be helping my peers pursue such powerful and enriching opportunities. I had never imagined, before studying abroad, that I could ever offer such a service to my campus. During my early years of college, I had lacked the proper tools to navigate higher education; I struggled with utilizing available resources and establishing a place within the student body. At UW Tacoma, I found my place and, as a mentor in International Programs, strove to help others find theirs too.

Not long after graduation I decided to apply for the Fulbright, in hopes of becoming an English teaching assistant in Colombia. At the same time, I applied for the North American Language and Culture Assistants program in Spain. I was lucky enough to begin work in the Office of Advancement, which allowed me to stay close to my incredibly supportive network on campus, while continuing to develop my professional experience. Professors, colleagues, and friends all became allies in both application processes.

Within a short amount of time I was admitted to the Language and Culture Assistant program and am currently awaiting my regional placement. Even though I felt disappointment in not being accepted for a Fulbright grant, I couldn't be more excited now to move to Spain and spend the next year assisting Spanish students in their English language learning, while at the same time improving my own Spanish-speaking ability and immersing myself in the rich culture of the Iberian Peninsula. I know that all of the skills I have honed here at UW Tacoma will serve me very well in this new role, and I can't wait to get started.

The North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain program is sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Education and the Education Office of the Embassies of Spain. Assistants teach English in K-12 public schools in Spain.

2015 Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security Recipient

Kebra Thompson (Computer Engineering and Systems, BS '15) was selected for a Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS) to pursue a Master's degree in Computer Science and Systems right here at UW Tacoma.

She is one of 16 Scholars nationally. Kebra is pursuing a second career after eighteen years as a high school math teacher. She is planning to use math to solve problems and looks forward to doing that in the field of cybersecurity.

She will also be working with Dr. Ka Yee Yeung at UW Tacoma on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored research project on data coordination and integration. The research is a collaborative effort between six universities across the country. 

The Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS) is sponsored by Applied Computer Security Associates, Inc. and Hewlett-Packard. It supports female students who’re pursuing degrees in fields relating to information security. For more information, please visit the program website. 

2015-18 Chinese Government Scholarship Recipient

Congratulations to Inteus Taylor (Global Studies, BA ’15)! He received a 2015-18 Chinese Government Scholarship for graduate study in China.

He will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Global Studies at Nanjing University.

While at UW Tacoma, Inte studied Mandarin and spent a full academic year in China. He participated in UW Tacoma’s summer study abroad program in China and also studied at Nanjing University through CIEE.

Inte is very skilled at learning foreign languages: he studied Japanese in high school, is proficient in Mandarin and is hoping to tackle Korean next. 

Chinese Government Scholarships provide funding for undergraduate and graduate study at Chinese universities.