A Giant Leap

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Every student's journey to a degree is unique, and the great leap they take into the world beyond. Read about four 2020 grads: from psychology to cybersecurity to space!

Every student’s journey toward a degree is unique. Sure, there are common experiences that everyone goes through, like trying to build the perfect class schedule, cramming for finals and balancing education with the rest of your life. But within those broad categories there are seemingly infinite chains of small decisions that take every student along their own path.

That’s why reading profiles of recent alumni is so rewarding. Someone who took exactly the same classes and got exactly the same degree as you probably had an experience nothing like yours.

The Class of 2020 is no exception. Although we should resist the temptation to think the current moment is “Unprecedented!” or “The worst ever!” it is fair to say the Class of 2020 faced some pretty stiff headwinds. A global pandemic, a sudden economic shock, widening political divisions, the struggle to have a voice and be heard, and a sobering rise in state-sanctioned violence.

But through it all, these students persisted. They overcame challenges, personal and communal, and they learned along the way.

Throughout the summer of 2020, we have been publishing stories of members of the Class of 2020. Here we present the four most recent of our stories, and, below that, links to ten of our earlier stories.

Amica Atienza, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, B.S. Biomedical Sciences

Amica Atienza: Speaking of the Future

Amica Atienza, the UW Tacoma 2020 Commencement Student Speaker, emerged from an existential crisis with a B.S. in biomedical sciences and a platform to share her story. MORE...

Leticia Romo Bueno, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, Chancellor's Medalist, B.A. Criminal Justice

Leticia Romo Bueno: Not Just a Piece of Paper

Education has been the one constant in a life of unpredictability and hardship for Chancellor's Medalist Leticia Romo Bueno. MORE...

Ken Burkart, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, B.S. Environmental Science

Ken Burkart: Learning the Ropes

Ken Burkart, '20, applied the discipline and determination of rock-climbing to his academic career and his research into aquatic chemistry. MORE...

Brooke Carlaw, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, President's Medalist, B.A. Psychology

Brooke Carlaw: Eyes Opened Wide

Brooke Carlaw, the UW Tacoma 2020 President's Medalist, had her eyes opened to the racial bias in our justice system's approach to eyewitness misidentification by Dr. Stephen Ross. MORE...

Sahra Malin, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, B.A. Healthcare Leadership

Sahra Malin: Getting It

A professor told Sahra Malin, 'if you want it, go get it,' and that's exactly what Malin is doing. MORE...

Erica Myron, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, B.A. Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

Erica Myron: Taking Shape

UW Tacoma alumna Erica Myron, '20, is on her way toward become a professor of American Indian Literature. MORE...

Christopher Sim, UW Tacoma Class of 2020

Christopher Sim: Feels Like Home

Christopher Sim's journey took him from Malaysia to UW Tacoma. MORE...

Angel Torres, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, B.A. Ethnic, Gender & Labor Studies

Angel Torres: The Right Direction

Education helped Angel Torres, ’20, understand who he is and where he wants to go. MORE...

Sarah Wilkinson, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, Master of Social Work

Sarah Wilkinson: Hearing Yes

UW Tacoma alumna Sarah Wilkinson, ’20 MSW, wouldn't let her past determine her future. MORE...

Jessy Wolff, UW Tacoma Class of 2020, B.A. Psychology

Jessy Wolff: By Design

Jessy Wolff, '20, left the corporate world to start her own business and earn a college degree. MORE...

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge and Sarah Smith / September 16, 2020
Photos by: 
Photo illustration by Megan Kitagawa
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu