“We tell our students ‘international’ does not only mean diplomacy and foreign policy,” said Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba to over 1,100 Jackson School students, their families and friends, as well as faculty and staff, gathered for the School’s Convocation on June 8, 2017 at the Center for Spiritual Living, an event space near the University of Washington. “It is in for-profit organizations that exist in Washington. It is in nonprofit organizations. It is in our relationships with coworkers, students and friends. It is in the goods we consume, the food we eat, the music we listen to and concerns we have.”
Kasaba, who is also the Stanley D. Golub Chair of International Studies, also highlighted examples from this year of the diversity of research and impact our students experience:
- A cybersecurity research project for Microsoft that included producing and posting reports on the Jackson School website, with one being viewed over 12,800 times
- Engaging with Starbucks to create opportunity for refugee employment
- Interdisciplinary research on China, covering China’s environmental issues
- A Ph.D. candidate who wrote a paper about a library in India that has existed since the 16th century, resulting in establishment of a trust and fundraising for conservation and digitalization of the library’s rich collection
- Following on the senior capstone course Task Force, one student developed a new data management system for El Rescate, a Los Angeles-based immigrant rights organization, after analyzing the nonprofit’s intake records for insights into migration
- For the first time in its history, the School collaborated with the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state, through the Task Force program, to develop ways of communicating environmental concerns to a broader public and find common solutions.
“Be open, flexible and tolerant, in other words, be prepared for the challenges that await us,” Kasaba encouraged the new 327 undergraduate and graduate alumni of the Jackson School of International Studies.
A new fund for undergraduate policymaking
During the ceremony, Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba announced the establishment of the Donald C. Hellman Task Force Program, thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor.
“The gift specifically recognizes Donald C. Hellmann as a dedicated teacher, institution-builder and creator of the Task Force program [an undergraduate senior seminar],” noted Kasaba. “Starting from 2017-2018, it will be called the Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program.”
Professor Emeritus Donald Hellmann, who has taught at the School for 51 years, attended the Convocation and received a standing ovation for his contributions to the School.
The same endowment will also create a special award for an outstanding graduating student who is interested in pursuing a career in the international arena. This award will be given once a year during Convocation and the recipient will be named Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar.
Hellmann currently teaches a seminar on Arctic & International Relations, and is involved in outreach and academic initiatives for the School. His research interests include Japanese political economy, international institutions, Pacific Rim relations and U.S. foreign policy.
“We are all leaders”
“We are all leaders, and that is part of the reason we are graduating from the Jackson School. We must carry what we built here, and deepen our roots in our communities,” Chloe Masayo Akahori, this year’s recipient of the Jackson School Leadership Award, told the audience. “It is not all about the broad-scale change we make. It is about how we treat and perceive the people next to us and how that becomes magnified in communities and in-between nations.”
As the Leadership Award winner, Akahori also receives a $3,000 stipend. The Award goes to a graduating senior who demonstrates leadership skills in addition to academic achievement.
“Whoever we are, whoever we become, wherever we are, remember the things we learned are not as important as the people we met and the connections we made here. We may be graduating, but our journey is only beginning.”
Akahori graduated with a 4.0 GPA and during her time at UW she volunteered with organizations that cooked meals and provided services for the homeless, taught in local schools on issues of community wellness and reproductive and sexual health, and founded a movement to increase awareness about underage substance abuse.
Her next stop? Traveling the world “to explore the impacts of U.S. foreign policy and powerful “Western” ideas” on a Bonderman Travel Fellowship.
Other student awards given during the Jackson School Convocation 2017:
- Graduate Book Award (Shannon d’Layne Bush, M.A., Southeast Asian Studies, 2017 and Erin McAuliffe, M.A., Southeast Asian Studies, 2017 )
- Undergraduate Book Award (Anna Learn, International Studies, 2017)
The Book Awards each come with an award of $500.
Three Jackson School students who made the UW Husky 100 Award for their leadership and commitment to making a positive difference on campus and in their communities were also recognized:
- Ian Bellows (B.A., International Studies and Geography, 2017)
- Brian Crist (B.A., International Studies, 2017)
- Monica Airut Murphy (B.A., International Studies and French, 2017)
A willingness to engage and understand
This year at Convocation the Jackson School Student Association awarded the annual Student Service Award to Jackson School Professor Sara Curran.
Several students read testimonials onstage about the impact Prof. Curran has had on them and the Jackson School community.
“Professor Curran is one of the most selfless and hardworking members of the Jackson School,” said one student testimonial. “She has devoted hours to contribute to the Jackson School Journal and has engaged with us amiably and respectfully.”
In addition to teaching international studies, Prof. Curran serves as faculty adviser for the Jackson School Journal, a quarterly student research publication, and helps direct the undergraduate Applied Research Program.
“I have learned more from you than I have ever imparted. I am truly grateful,” Curran told the students as she received the award. “Last words of advice: listen, learn and live to connect with people and places wherever you go – and come back to campus.”
Curran is also Director of the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology and holds a joint appointment with the Department of Sociology.
Carolyn Bain (B.A., International Studies, 1989) featured as the alumni speaker and urged students to “use your time, talent and treasure to strive for equity, to make sure everyone is treated fairly and equally in the world.”
Bain spoke of her journey to a global career overseas in the health field, and as executive director of a local nonprofit, Guatemala Village Health. She currently is Program Officer for the reproductive health program at PATH, an international health organization based in Seattle, and is a board member for iLeap and Consejo Counseling and Referral Service.
She noted: “Almost 30 years ago, I was sitting in your seats. I was in the Latin American track, and had dedicated and compassionate professors. The Jackson School gave me sure footing for my career.”