Honorees for this year’s Husky 100 were given a medal during a ceremony at the UW campus in Seattle. The medal features UW’s iconic “W” along with the phrase “Husky 100” and the year. It’s meant as a badge of honor, a tangible reminder of achievement. Kayesee Schermerhorn took hers off. The UW Tacoma senior turned and gave the medal to her mother. “My success is her success,” said Schermerhorn. “She sacrificed everything so I could go to college.”
Schermerhorn, a first-generation college student, came to UW Tacoma three years ago from Vancouver, Washington. Good word of mouth from a friend and the promise of small class sizes led Schermerhorn to campus. Being far from home in a new place didn’t faze her. “More than anything I was just really excited to get started,” she said.
She settled into life at UW Tacoma. She lived on campus at Court 17 which helped her connect with fellow students. “The best part about going to school here has been the relationships I’ve cultivated with others including staff and faculty,” she said.
Not long after starting at UW Tacoma, Schermerhorn took a sociology class. “That class really changed my worldview and my way of thinking,” she said. “I learned a lot about racism and different forms of oppression.” This knowledge led her to choose law and policy as a major.
During another course, this time for her major, Schermerhorn was assigned to read Bryan Stephenson’s “Just Mercy” about inequities within the criminal justice system. “After reading that book I decided I wanted to be an attorney and provide legal counsel to people who don’t normally have access,” she said.
Access is already a major part of Schermerhorn’s life. She currently works for the Student Activities Board is a part of a committee that allocates funds to student organizations. “I joined this committee because I don’t think a lot of students know what resources are available to them and I wanted to get that message out,” she said.
Schermerhorn is also part of the Commencement Committee. She helped coordinate changes to this year’s ceremonies which will ensure students get more tickets to distribute to family and friends. Schermerhorn is also part of the Race & Equity Initiative Committee and has worked for the Center for Equity & Inclusion on campus.
Schermerhorn graduates in June. She’ll spend the next year studying for the LSAT and applying to law schools. “I want to help create equitable change for everyone and if I didn’t come here I don’t know if that would have been my mindset,” she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] is her dream job. “That’s the ultimate goal,” she said. She believes her time at UW Tacoma prepared her for the road ahead. “I’m young, but I know what I’m doing right now is building me up to become a leader.”
Husky 100 is a tri-campus award that honors those who have made the most of their time at UW. “Oftentimes you don’t see the results of what you’re doing so it’s nice to be recognized,” said Schermerhorn.
During Commencement, Schermerhorn will receive more recognition and another tangible reminder of achievement in the form of a college degree. When she dons the cap and gown Schermerhorn will be thinking of her parents, especially her mother. “I tell my friends that when I walk across that stage at graduation I’m walking for her, not just for me.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org