The award, given to a UW Tacoma graduating student, provides an opportunity to give to the community through philanthropy. The student will select a University of Washington Tacoma approved non-religious charity for a one-time award. In addition, the student will receive an award equivalent to the philanthropic gift.
2021-21 recipient, Vincent Da
When he began his college career at UW Tacoma back in 2017, Vincent Da explained that as a first generation student he didn’t know what to expect. After beginning to venture down a bio-med path, he ultimately decided that working in the sciences wasn’t something he wanted to do but recognized that he still wanted to be in a position where he could help people. The realization of alternative ways to serve the community through engagement and research is what led him to major in Healthcare Leadership.
Da noted that he first began volunteering in high school, and after graduating and moving on, these experiences motivated him to become involved on campus. From his work at the Center for Equity and Inclusion, working in the Pantry and with Nourish Pierce County to moving from ASUWT senator to the sitting president, his time at UWT exemplifies this.
Growing up with a father in the military, Da explained how these experiences beginning from a young age allowed him to understand first-hand what selfless service is.
“I was able to live in different parts of the world, having that global perspective of different communities and the things I experienced, I’m privileged. That’s one of the things now I kind of understand more,” he said. “Selfless service to me is making sure that you do something without any expectation of return or recognition — something my dad kind of really taught me growing up.”
During his early college career, Da noted that he experienced food insecurity. And by working in the Pantry alongside Dr. Christine Stevens, Da was inspired to get involved and continue working in the community.
“It was through [Dr. Stevens’] research that she found one third of UW Tacoma students were food insecure, which brought about the creation of the Pantry … Without her work I think I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
The two regularly work together on leadership projects across campus, one of which garnered a grant that allowed them to provide culturally relevant food to students on campus. Continuing their work throughout the pandemic, Da expressed the ways in which it has highlighted the inequities our community faces from financial insecurity to the inability to access technology.
Following graduation this coming June, the UW Tacoma Healthcare Leadership major will begin his career with MultiCare working in their Health & Equity Wellness division to provide more access to healthcare in underprivileged communities. Looking back on his time as a volunteer and his community involvement, Da said it urged him to self-reflect and move forward.
“Not everyone has the same access to resources as you or has the same upbringing or same opportunities. Making sure that you use your platform, of whatever your platform is, to just uplift others that might need it is important.”