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Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander (AANAPISI) Scholarship

Melissa Atienza
Melissa Atienza (Global Studies and Business Management, BA ’20).

Growing up as a military child, Melissa lived in Indonesia, Japan, Italy, and Bahrain for eleven years before returning to the United States to attend college. During her first year at UW Tacoma, Melissa joined the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (APISU), an organization she now leads as president: “APISU has taught me the importance of a cultural identity … If we lose our ancestral footprint, we lose our uniqueness ... As president of APISU, I want to carry the tradition and essence of the organization, be an influencer that encourages the next generation of APIs to achieve the unthinkable, especially higher education.” Melissa also works as the Marketing Assistant for Career Development on campus.

Jonah Bardos
Jonah Bardos (Computer Engineering & Systems, BS ’21).

Jonah was born and raised in the Philippines and immigrated to the U.S., where he focuses his studies on Computer Engineering. He is pursuing this field because he is passionate about technology development: “The technological revolution of the 21st century, and the innovation that continues to result from it, has changed everything we thought we knew about the world. The way we work, live, and communicate was altered immensely in the last ten years, and will continue to change as more and more advancement is made in technology.” He looks forward to helping to shape this future.

Joseph Dayonot
Joseph Dayonot (Information Technology, BS’ 20).

Joe is a half Samoan, half Filipino student studying Information Technology at UW Tacoma. He is currently the treasurer for the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (APISU). Joe plans on continuing to work with APISU in helping others find their place on campus.

Abid Rahmani
Abid Rahmani (Business Administration, BA ‘21).

Abid was born in Afghanistan, but his family decided to seek refuge in Pakistan as the security situation in his country of birth worsened. After completing primary, middle and high school in Pakistan, Abid moved back to Afghanistan in 2008 to work on USAID funded economic and regional projects. Due to his employment with a U.S. government agency, his life was in jeopardy, and he eventually moved to the United States with his family.

After working as a security officer in the U.S., Abid is now a business student at UW Tacoma. He continues to work as an Economic Development Specialist with the Diocese of Olympia while pursuing his education. His goal is to pursue an MBA in Management and to eventually run his own business.

Francine Kalcso
Francine Kalcso (Pre-major).

As a recipient of the AANAPISI scholarship, Francine vows to work diligently to bridge families and communities while encouraging support for one another. “My journey in obtaining my degree has given me the liberty to speak about learning for a lifespan to my children and many others. To return to [college] at 39 years old was not a choice I took lightly.”

As her son became gravely ill, Francine watched her two teenagers support him selflessly. Her children’s compassion encouraged her to stop her career and follow a longtime dream of working toward a bachelor’s degree. The AANAPISI Scholarship will support her in achieving that dream.

Cindy Thao
Cindy Thao (Healthcare Leadership, BA ‘20).

Cindy is grateful for the support she received from people who believed in her and helped her believe in herself. Growing up poor, she had to work to support her parents and younger siblings. Says Cindy: “I did drugs, I was diagnosed with depression, and I lost everything, but somehow I was able to realize that there is more to life.” She decided to go back to school to become a licensed vocational nurse and completed her Associate’s degree in 2016.

She is now a student in the Healthcare Leadership program and works as a student research assistant for the Nourish Pierce County program. After completing her Bachelor’s, she hopes to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, in an effort to better understand how to improve care and provide culturally appropriate nutrition at long-term care facilities.

Eric Min
Eric Min (Information Technology, BS ‘19).

Eric fcoused his studies on cybersecurity and information assurance with a minor in business administration and hopes to work in project management or cybersecurity after graduation. While at UW Tacoma, he founded Campus Adult Ministry (CAM), a registered student organization, to give back, share his faith, and build community. He is grateful to the guidance he has received from his mentors and proud that he was able to overcome his shyness and lack of ambition to thrive in college.

Jenny Rubario
Jenny Rubario (pre-major).

Jenny Rubario is a recent immigrant to the United States. She transferred to UW Tacoma from Pierce College, where she was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, American Honors, and ASPIRE, a support program for Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Jenny plans to pursue a Business major and hopes to work in the financial sector after graduation.

Truc Tran
Truc Tran (Healthcare Leadership, BA ‘20).

Truc immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with her family as a child. When they first arrived in the United States, they had had to start all over: adapt to a new place, to a new language, and to everything else that was different. Her interest in the healthcare field was piqued while she looked after her sick grandfather near the end of his life: “I would feed him and help him with his necessities. The one thing that stood out for me was that he always smiled and appreciated all the things I did for him. The feeling I had every time he would smile felt so powerful.” Truc hopes to help others in need by working in the healthcare field after graduation.

Tuyen Ngoc Tran
Tuyen Ngoc Tran (Business Administration, BA ‘20).

Tuyen immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, which she describes as “one of the most influential personal events that has shaped my character through academic and cultural challenges”. It is this immigration experience and the subsequent integration into U.S. society that have helped her build important intercultural skills. Tuyen is active in the Vietnamese Student Association and the Power Lifting Club at UW Tacoma and works at the front desk of the Center for Student Involvement. She hopes to manage her own non-profit organization to provide support and opportunities for families and young adults.

Dilluchei Kikuo
Dilluchei (Lu-A) Kikuo (Politics, Philosophy, & Economics, BA ‘19).

I am from the Republic of Palau, a small and young island nation in the Micronesian region of the Pacific Islands. I came to the U.S. right after high school to go to college. However, due to some financial and personal setbacks, my educational journey has taken quite some time to complete. After transferring to UW-Tacoma from my former schools and changing my major to PPE: Politics and Philosophy, I finally feel that I am on the right track. This has made my learning experience more fun, satisfying, and engaging.

I am interested in law school after my undergraduate studies. My ultimate goal is to move back to Palau with my husband and our son to live there once I have completed law school. I believe that for me personally, studying politics and law holds the key to becoming a competent and conscientious contributing member of Palauan society.

Kennaro Samrith
Kennaro Samrith (Accounting, BA ‘18).

Since moving to Tacoma, WA for college I was introduced to various community members from different cultural disciplines. Each of them has either encouraged, challenged or mentored me to become the person I am today.

An important goal for me was to overcome my shyness and explore the world for what it has to offer. Each and every day I promise myself to seek discomfort to learn more about myself by simply just saying, “YES”. This ranges from riding an electric longboard for the first time to traveling with a group of strangers across the country to help with disaster relief efforts.

My overall goal is to educate individuals on the importance of community. I plan to utilize my role as a student leader to connect students with Tacoma communities to learn from and with each other.

Kinza Mohammad
Kinza Mohammad (Healthcare Leadership, BA ‘19).

I was born in Las Vegas, NV to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan. Being a Muslim Woman, it is often a challenge to fit in. Sometimes, you are told things by your own people that break you, like, “You’re a Woman, you can’t be doing that.” Well, being as stubborn as I am, I did all of those things, that “I wasn’t supposed to do.” I played sports – including Judo and Track, joined many clubs, participated in science fairs, ran for class president, volunteered, and started working at age 16. At Green River College, I worked as a Biology Lab tech aid and a peer navigator in the Office of Diversity. But to be honest, I almost didn’t graduate high school. I was failing 3 classes, had 2 C’s and one B. If it wasn’t for running start, I don’t think I would have graduated. My running start teachers allowed me to find my true potential. My family pushed me to keep moving forward, and encouraged me to do the impossible. I am in the healthcare leadership program now and aspire to help those in countries that do not have adequate healthcare. Being the first in my family to go to college, everything is new to me. It is sometimes a hassle to find out what step comes next, but I am slowly working my way through.

James Da
James Da (Social Welfare, BA '19).

James Christian Da is a first generation college student who identifies as a queer person of color studying social work and global honors at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is the co-founder of the first student-led, student-funded, and student-driven program on campus that specifically caters, supports, and celebrates first generation students (First Gen Fellows), while also serving and representing undeclared students in his capacity as an Undeclared Senator for the ASUWT Student Government. He is committed to educational growth and the overall advancement for all students of different backgrounds as he himself is the first individual in his family to attend a high-ranking university. He aims to become a social worker or serve in any capacity that advocates for those who are underrepresented and marginalized.

Leonard Da
Leonard Da (Premajor).

I am an Asian-American first generation college student studying Healthcare Leadership. I wasn’t sure if I could afford going to college. Both my parents attended college in the Philippines but they never completed a degree because of financial hardship. I’m very blessed and thankful for my parents shaping my character, and helping me realize what a privilege receiving an education is.

My career goal is to become a healthcare provider so that I may be able to help others in need. I plan on giving back to my community after completing my education by volunteering and interning at local hospitals and care management facilities. After that, I would like to work for an organization that provides healthcare resources to developing countries.

Malinda Osborn
Malinda Osborn (Communications, BA' 18).

I am a first-generation Chamorro student and work at UW Tacoma Library and the Center for Equity & Inclusion where I develop events and workshops focused on Identity. I am very excited to study abroad in Italy with support from a Gilman International Scholarship in winter 2018. I will be participating in the “Creativity and Place: Seeing and Re-seeing Rome and Italy” program.

Dilluchei Kikuo
David Lu (Information Technology, BS '19).

Being the first in my family to go to college was challenging. I didn't know what resources I had available to me. My parents immigrated here from Vietnam and had no experience with the American education system. I often kept to myself and tried not to be a bother to anyone. This resulted in me being an introvert. When I came to UW Tacoma I didn't know anyone. I kept to myself for two quarters before I told myself that I was tired of being alone all the time. I mustered up the strength to go check out a few RSO's on campus. This is where everything started to change. I started meeting more people and socializing more. My personality and habits took a 180 degree turn. I went from being antisocial and not knowing what I wanted to major in to the complete opposite.

I am now majoring in Information Technology and my goal is to educate everyone about the effects of e-waste on the environment. At my past internship they were tossing a semi-new phone when I asked if I could have it. They said yes, so I took it home and refurbished it, and it is now the phone I use. Any electronic contains elements that can be reused or chemicals that need to be properly disposed of. If everyone were to know about this, we could be more efficient about what we do with our e-waste and make reduce the amount of e-waste that we produce

Vanessa Hung (Premajor).

As the daughter of a Chinese immigrant and a Vietnamese refugee, I am pursuing my dream of becoming a cyber-consultant with time, dedication, effort, and passion. The United States Department of Homeland Security states that 90 percent of security incidents are caused by poor software development. When my skills are well developed in the near future, I will provide my utmost abilities and effort to protect this nation from further cyberattacks.

I am a hardworking student regardless of any financial and academic difficulties I have faced. I have sacrificed a lot of time from leisure activities and focused on academics, school activities as well as volunteering. I was a concertmaster of orchestra from grade 5 to grade 12 and received state and solo awards in orchestra performances and competitions. I volunteered as a Study Zone tutor at the Kent Regional Library for 3 years and at Northwest Harvest to help provide food for those in need.


The APIASF Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Scholarship is a competitive scholarship for students who identify as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander. Scholars are selected for achievements in community service and leadership, academic performance, and financial need.

Bonderman Fellowship

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. 

Azad Mohammed
Congratulations to Azad Mohammed (Geospatial Technologies, MS ‘18) for receiving a 2018 Bonderman Travel Fellowship!

Maps were Azad’s way of understanding and knowing the unfamiliar world around him, outside of his hometown in Boise, Idaho and his place of birth in Kurdistan. He has always been intrigued by them in any format, either on screen or on paper; the power they can hold is central to his motivation to obtain a master’s in geospatial technologies. Realizing he is part of this global world and that he somehow fits somewhere, he has always been adamant to take that next step outside of his comfort zone. His countries of choice reflect that statement: Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan.

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. 

Chinese Government Scholarship

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. 

Critical Language Scholarship

Korey Pecha
Korey Pecha (Computer Science, BS' 20) was selected for a 2018 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). He will be studying Mandarin Chinese in an intensive summer language institute in China.

Korey, a veteran and Computer Science student, started his study of Mandarin while in the U.S. Army and has been interested in Chinese culture for a while. “When I found out about the CLS program I immediately started the application process. Although studying in China won’t contribute to my major, my hope is to earn a minor in Asian studies. I look forward to the opportunities and experiences that lay ahead!”

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.

Gilman International Scholarship

Fadumo Diriye
Fadumo Diriye (pre-major, '20) will be studying abroad in South Korea. 
Fadumo will be participating in the 2018 CIEE Summer Korean Studies program in Seoul, South Korea. Longer bio forthcoming.
Shivani Lal
Shivani Lal (Sustainable Urban Development, BA '19) is headed to the United Kingdom. 
Shivani will be participating in the summer 2018 UW Urban Design and Planning United Kingdom: Sustainable Regional Development program. Longer bio forthcoming.
Tina Van
Tina Van (Business Administration, BA '19) will study Spanish in Ecuador. 
Tina will be participating in the summer 2018 UW Tacoma Ecuador: Spanish Language and Culture program. Longer bio forthcoming.
Vasika Cheng
Vasika Cheng (Communications, BA '19) will spend the academic year 2018-19 in South Korea. 
Vasika will be participating in the Seoul National University Exchange program in South Korea for the 2018-2019 academic year. Longer bio forthcoming.
Malinda Osborn
Malinda Osborn (Communications, BA '18) spent winter quarter 2018 in Italy. 
I am a first-generation Chamorro student and work at UW Tacoma Library and the Center for Equity & Inclusion where I develop events and workshops focused on Identity. I am very excited to study abroad in Italy with support from a Gilman International Scholarship in winter 2018. I will be participating in the “Creativity and Place: Seeing and Re-seeing Rome and Italy” program.".
Arwa Dubad
Arwa Dubad (Philosophy, Politics & Economics, BA '18) received a Summer 2017 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Brazil. 
Arwa is honored to be studying in Brazil this summer with UW Tacoma Brazil: Movements and Intersections trip. She fell in love with South America during the summer 2016 when she had her first study abroad experience in Argentina. Less Going back to explore another region that is famous for the intersectionality of its people is exciting opportunity for Arwa. After the program, Arwa plans to visit the her high school to inspire students to attend college and study abroad.
April Lai
April Lai (Business Administration, BA '19) received a Summer 2017 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in China. 
April is a sophomore studying Business Administration at UW Tacoma. She will be learning and exploring in China with the UWT Past and Present program for Summer 2017. Coming from Chinese descent she is ecstatic to learn more about her background and study Chinese economics. Less In addition, April is involved on campus as a Student Leader. She works as the Student Activities Board Entertainment Coordinator and advocates for First-Generation student success through a task force. April is running for Student Body Director of Finance and is motivated to help promote Study Abroad through these roles when she returns.
Natalie Lawrence
Natalie Lawrence (Psychology, BA '18) received a Summer 2017 Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Brazil. 
Natalie is a transfer student from the South Puget Sound Community College and came to UWT largely in part due to the generosity of the Next Step Scholarship donors. She is a member of the Global Honors Program and a research assistant in the Behavioral Health Psychology lab on campus. Less This summer she will participate in the Brazil: Movements and Intersections program and has been drawn to Brazil because of their pioneering policy surrounding women's rights. Brazil has innovated women's police stations and Women's Rights Councils to help prevent and prosecute violent crimes against women; as well as realize women's rights as human rights. Creating a safer, more equitable world for women is something very important to Natalie. Natalie has also been awarded the Bamford Fellowship in Global Engagement; an undergraduate research opportunity in which she will be researching the intersections of rape, culture and policy within the United States and Brazil. She plans to pursue a career studying mental health disorders in order to innovate effective treatments, raise awareness, and relieve social stigma of those suffering with mental health disorders. With the privilege of education, she believes comes the duty to uphold marginalized voices. **Natalie also has been awarded the OGA Study Abroad Scholarship for 2017!
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 has a long-standing interest in Japan and studied abroad at Kyushu University in Japan in the summer of 2016. It was the music and animes of the Japanese TV show InuYasha that first drew her to the country. While at Tacoma Community College, Chelsea worked with Japanese exchange students and started learning the language. Chelsea also worked in UW Tacoma's Office of Student Transition Programs when she was a student.
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.

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. 

Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship

Melanie Randall
Melanie Randall (Information Technology, BS'17) was named a 2018 Foreign Affairs IT Fellow – she is one of only five awardees nationally. The FAIT prepares students for careers as Foreign Affairs IT Specialists in the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service and provides financial support for graduate school, mentorship, and funding for two summer internships with the State Department.

Melanie is a first-generation college student who transferred to UW Tacoma from Highline College in 2015. Prior to UW Tacoma, she was a pastry chef in restaurants on the East Coast, in the Southwest, and right here in Washington. She has also worked in sales, customer service, and at the IT help desk for REI. She may not have realized it then, but these fast-paced, multi-cultural environments have prepared her well for her future role as a Foreign Affairs IT Specialist.

Melanie is also the proud mother of a daughter who’s attending college. With support of the FAIT Fellowship, Melanie will be pursuing a Master of Science in Information Management at the UW iSchool. Congratulations to Melanie, her academic unit, and her mentors!

Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program

Robert Gillis
Robert Gillis (Writing Studies, BA ’19) was selected for the prestigious Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. 

I’ve been living in Washington all my life, and now that I’m graduating from the University of Washington Tacoma, I’m looking to experience the world. Since I was young, I’ve always been interested in visiting Japan and in becoming a Japanese-to-English translator and English teacher there. My goal is to immerse myself in the culture and language of Japan and become a cultural ambassador between Japan and the United States. This will be the first time I travel outside of the United States.


Chelsea Huddy
Chelsea Huddy (Politics, Philosophy & Economics, Global Honors, BA ’17) was selected for the prestigious Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and will be teaching English in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka-ken. 
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.

The JET Program is a competitive opportunity that allows young professionals to work as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in public and private schools throughout Japan. The JET Program is sponsored by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

Mary Gates Research Scholarship 

Grace McKenney
Environmental Science student Grace McKenney (BS ’19) received a 2019 Mary Gates Scholarship for her research on the DNA of bivalves (i.e. clams, oysters, and mussels). Her mentor is Dr. Bonnie Becker.

The Mary Gates Research Scholarship is an enormous honor, and it feels like a dream that I have actually been awarded it. This scholarship will help support my research in the Becker Lab on the DNA of bivalves (i.e. clams, oysters, and mussels) in Washington State.

For the past few years Becker Lab has been concentrating on a project tasked with counting and visually identifying bivalves in water samples collected around the state of Washington. Now that the visual identifications are complete, my research turns to analyzing the DNA of certain bivalves in order to get a better identification. My research will bring us one step closer to understanding the multitude of bivalve species living in the waters of Washington State.

Katherine Mijal
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences student Katherine Mijal (BA ’19) received a 2019 Mary Gates Scholarship for her research on oppression and the U.S. healthcare system with Dr. Margaret Griesse.

Katherine Mijal is planning to enter the UWT K-8 ELL teaching program next year and hopes to become an elementary school teacher. She is currently doing research on intersectional oppression and the US healthcare system, with the aim of reducing the maternal mortality rate of Black women in the United States.

Devin Reich
Computer Science and Systems student Devin Reich (BS ’20) received a 2019 Mary Gates Scholarship for his research in privacy preserving screening of documents (mentors: Drs. Anderson Nascimento and Martine de Cock).

Devin will use the Mary Gates Scholarship to fund his research in privacy preserving screening of documents. He will contribute to the UWT PPML Lynx framework, an open source, privacy preserving machine learning framework, by developing the code to extract features from a text based document. By doing so, he will create the tools necessary for anyone to be able to screen documents for the existence of key words without revealing what the document contains or what the words are. Devin will use the SemEval 2019 hate speech data to detect hate speech in a privacy preserving manner but the code he will create can be used in many other practical applications such as spam, terrorism and depression detection.

Autumn Diaz
Psychology student Autumn Diaz (BA ’18, Global Honors) received a 2018 Mary Gates Scholarship for her research examining caregiver ethnic-racial socialization practices in relation to levels of critical consciousness and attitudes towards race and diversity (mentor: Dr. Rachel Hershberg).

Autumn will use the Mary Gates Research Scholarship to assess caregiver ethnic-racial socialization practices across the lifespan and how this socialization relates to current levels of critical consciousness, color-blind racial attitudes, and universality-diversity orientation in UWT students. This research uses data from a social justice issues study conducted by Dr. Rachel Hershberg and her Community Psychology Research Group in which Autumn is a research assistant. Inspiration for her study came from analyses of qualitative data in the first two waves of this study, which showed the need to improve cross-cultural relationships on campus and understand the formation of ideologies pertaining to race and diversity.

Sam Larsen
Psychology student Sam Larsen (BA ’19) received a 2018 Mary Gates Scholarship for his research examining the role of empathy in UW Tacoma students' critical consciousness development (mentor: Dr. Rachel Hershberg).

Sam will be using the Mary Gates Research Scholarship to facilitate research into what factors contribute to prompt an individual to engage in social justice actions. This research uses data from a social justice issues study conducted by Dr. Rachel Hershberg and her Community Psychology Research Group, in which Sam holds a lab manager position.

Josiah Pollock
History student Josiah Pollock (BA ’18) received a 2018 Mary Gates Scholarship for his research into the first non-native settlement in the Puget Sound (mentor: Dr. Michael Kucher).

The Mary Gates Research Scholarship will take him to the British Columbia Provincial Archives to search for journals from Fort Nisqually. The journals were taken to Victoria in 1865, and misplaced. The information contained in the journals will offer valuable insight into the early development of the first non-native settlement on Puget Sound. As a local historian, who focuses on agricultural history, he is excited to uncover stories of early agriculture here on the shores of Puget Sound.

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.

Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship 

Adan Espino Jr.
Adán Espino Jr. (Law & Policy, BA '19) was named a 2019 Mary Gates Leadership Scholar in the spring of 2019.

Adán Espino Jr is a Washingtonian born and raised and has felt a passion for his community since high school. Studying for the Law & Policy degree with a minor in Economics, Adán has served as UW Tacoma's student lobbyist to advocate for State Need Grant funding, student loan reform, and investment into UW Tacoma. He is currently advocating alongside the university administration for two new engineering degree programs and a new academic building on campus.When he graduates, he hopes to continue fighting for his South Sound community and maybe even serve as an elected official.


The Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship encourages undergraduate students to develop their leadership abilities through practical experience, personal reflection and in community with mentors and peers.

North American Language and Culture Assistants to Spain

Nicole Baker
Nicole Baker (Psychology, BA '17)

Nicole is a first generation college student who found her love of international exchanges during her first study abroad in France & Italy during the summer of 2016. Nicole spent her last year at UW Tacoma actively involved in two psychological research teams and working as a Global Affairs Fellow, encouraging other students to experience the transforming power of international education. Upon her graduation in 2017, Nicole participated in an immersive language program in Santiago, Chile. Afterwards, she began a Master's program in Management at Seattle Pacific University. Now having graduated and enjoying the fruits of her academic labor, Nicole is eager for the next step of her journey in the Galicia region of Spain.

Audrey Weber
Audrey Weber
Audrey Weber (Arts, Media, & Culture, BA '18)

This upcoming academic year I will be teaching English, and acting as a Cultural Ambassador in Galicia, Spain. I participated in a Study Abroad program in Spain last summer, and since then have been both improving my Spanish language skills, and dreaming about going back! Being mindful of the impact I am making while spending time in foreign countries is very important to me, as such I am very excited about this opportunity. Not only will I be able to immerse myself in the culture around me by virtue of having extended time in country, and engage with local communities on a deeper level due to having more advanced language abilities. I will also be in a position to build relationships with people of varying ages, and represent my own culture during a critical time in American history!

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.

Presidential Management Fellows Program

Brandon Jacobsen
Brandon Jacobsen (Global Studies, BA '10) was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2017.

Brandon is a Tacoma native, and went to public school in his hometown all the way through his time at UW Tacoma. In addition to majoring in Global Studies, he pursued minors in Hispanic Studies and Global Engagement. After graduation, he taught high school Spanish as well as serving for a time as Education Director at Tacoma’s very own Alchemy Skateboarding. In 2015, he left the City of Destiny for the other Washington (DC) to pursue a Master’s degree in the field of Peace and Conflict Resolution and a career in public service.

Upon finishing his graduate studies at American University’s School of International Service in 2017, Brandon was selected as a Finalist for the Presidential Management Fellowship, the U.S. Federal Government’s flagship leadership development program. He obtained an appointment in 2018 at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, where he serves as the Communications and Outreach Lead in the Presidential Management Fellows Program Office. As part of his fellowship, he will also carry out a detail on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He currently resides in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC.

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is the flagship leadership program of the US Office of Personnel Management. It includes a two-year appointment with a federal agency and leadership development for advanced degree candidates.

Rangel Scholarship

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 2015 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.

Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security

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. 

Tillman Military Scholarship 

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. 

Udall Scholarship

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.