“For us in the Jackson School, the world is not something that’s out there that you wonder about and be afraid of. It’s us. It’s our lives. It’s our languages and our cultures,” said Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba to 281 Jackson School graduating students and over 900 of their families and friends, faculty and staff, who gathered for the School’s Convocation on June 13, 2019 at the Seattle Children’s Sand Point Learning Center, an event space near the University of Washington.
[Watch the video of the entire Jackson School Convocation 2019]
“We give our students tools to think about the world, tools to address the most vexing themes of our time, such as cybersecurity, international migration, Trump in the world, new Cold War with China…” Kasaba noted.
He highlighted examples from the Class of 2019, from an honors thesis on how the “Russian-back Internet Research Agency interacted with Black Lives Matters community on Twitter” to a thesis on “Unmaking Indonesian language as a shared language in Southeast Asia” to “European hip-hop as a response to multi-culturalism” to ten years on the rights of persons with disabilities adoption in China.
Kasaba, who is also the Stanley D. Golub Chair of International Studies and emceed the evening event, emphasized the diversity of the projects, noting “the classes our students take and research they do are truly breathtaking.” To applause, he talked about how the impact of internationals studies can make a difference.
He cited how undergraduate research on human rights implications of the operations of ICE Air helped lead the decision of King County to suspend deportation flights from public airports in April, among other examples by the UW Center for Human Rights, Sephardic Studies at the School’s Stroum Center for Jewish Studies and a student who organized a dialogue series between the U.S. and China.
“Find your calling”
“The Jackson School has given you the tools and thinking to go out and make a difference in this world,” said Geoffrey Morgan (B.A., International Studies and Civil Engineering, 2011), a United Nations infrastructure specialist who works alongside governments, NGOs and the private sector in some of the world’s most challenging environments, in his speech as the Distinguished Alumni keynote speaker. He offered advice to the students based on his own journey, to find a challenge or problem in the world that you want to address, learn to tell your story and tell it well and throw yourself into challenges and opportunities that present themselves to you.
Morgan, who currently is based in Copenhagen where he works on sustainability and resilience focused projects in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, was named a Young Engineering Laureate in 2018 by the World Federation of Engineering Organisations for his leadership efforts in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Propelling students forward in the world
During the ceremony, Jackson School Director Kasaba announced a number of annual awards for students who demonstrated a range of outstanding skills in leadership, scholarship or service during their time at the School. Grace Sorensen, an international studies major, won the flagship annual Jackson School Leadership Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize. Established in 1986, the award goes to a graduating senior who demonstrates leadership skills in addition to academic achievement.
“Undergraduate students are capable of translating academic skills into real-world policy change,” she told the audience during the ceremony. She spoke of her research via the Center for Human Rights on the ICE Air deportation flights, noting the impact in making King Count the first in the nation to take a stance against those flights.
In addition to maintaining high grades, Sorensen tutors English to adult migrant populations, volunteers as legal interpreter for naturalization clinics and helps guide immigrants through the entire naturalization process.
She heads to San Francisco following graduation to work at an immigration law firm. In closing, she said: “Ultimately, it’s the mentors, students and resilient people who have inspired me that will drive me to have a lasting impact in the world.”
Kasaba also announced the two Book Awards for academic achievement and the highest GPA that each come with an award of $500:
- Graduate Book Award: Russell Guajardo, who is graduating with a master’s in middle east studies
- Undergraduate Book Award: Shawna Krueger, who is graduating with a major in international studies and a minor in Spanish
Graduating seniors Zinaida Carroll and Priya Uppal were recognized for writing the Best Honors Theses, along with two Jackson School students, Salem Abraha and Erika Arias, who made this year’s UW Husky 100 list for their passion, leadership and commitment to making a positive difference on campus and in their communities.
Kasaba named the six Jackson School students who received Fulbright Scholar Awards for 2019-2020, all of them graduating in June 2019:
- Azelle Bahadory, senior, International Studies major: Fulbright Teaching Assistant to India
- Kevin Lam, senior, Dance, International Studies majors: Fulbright Teaching Assistant to Taiwan
- Sarah Leibson, senior, International Studies; Korean majors: Fulbright Teaching Assistant to Taiwan
- Thomas Pham, senior, International Studies major: Fulbright Teaching Assistant to Turkey
- Maya Sullivan, senior, Economics, International Studies majors: Fulbright Research Grant to Oman
- Binh Truong, senior, International Studies major: Fulbright Research Grant to Austria
In addition, Director Kasaba recognized Maya Sullivan as the inaugural recipient of the Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Award. The award goes to an outstanding junior at the Jackson School who is interested in pursuing a career in the international arena, and is part of a larger endowment made in 2017-2018 for the Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program.
After spending part of last year as an intern in U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal and at a company in Amman, Jordan, Sullivan was selected as a Fulbright Scholar, and will conduct research in Oman in 2019-2020.
Recognition went for two Jackson School Bonderman Travel Fellowship recipients, Angelia Miranda, an international studies & philosophy with departmental honors senior, and Daniel Godfrey, a medical anthropology & global health with interdisciplinary honors with human rights and international studies (minors), who will spend eight months will each expand their understanding of themselves and the complex, diverse and interconnected world we live in through devising and undertaking a unique travel plan.
Students honor cybersecurity post-doc
Every year, the undergraduate Jackson School Student Association awards a Student Service Award for an outstanding staff or faculty member at the School who shows outstanding dedication to student learning and community. This year, they named Jessica Beyer, a faculty member and also a graduate of the Jackson School, as the 2019 recipient of the award.
In giving her the award, Laskin highlighted Beyer’s leadership and compassion, and her dedication to enhancing the learning experience of every student who walks into the Jackson School. “She has instilled professional confidence in us … an outstanding mentor … her support and guidance helped many to find our career paths.”
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