“You, the Class of 2022, are especially prepared because of all that you have achieved in the midst of a pandemic that brought significant challenges from the smallest aspects of your daily lives to major world affairs,” said Jackson School Director Leela Fernandes in front of more than 800 Jackson School graduating students and their families and friends, faculty and staff, gathered for the School’s Convocation on June 11, 2022, in the HUB Ballroom at the University of Washington.
Fernandes also welcomed a number of students from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who returned to campus to be part of the ceremony, which was held in-person for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago.
Watch or listen to the recording of the ceremony.
Highlighting examples of global policy research produced by the 222 students from the Class of 2022, such as Japan’s policy on the lethal nuclear weapons issue in North Korea to NATO and emerging technology to EU response to migration and asylum in the time of Covid-19 to Indigeneity and the environment, Fernandes, who emceed the morning event, emphasized that the work represents the kind of committed and in depth knowledge that is needed in International Studies.
Fernandes noted that this year represented the largest graduating cohort in the history of the Jackson School Ph.D. program, “who have received multiple awards and scholarships from our School, the UW Graduate School, and external institutions that have valued their outstanding work, service, and research.”
A call to make bold choices
In her keynote address to the students as the Jackson School Distinguished Alum Award 2022 recipient, Mayowa Aina, a public media journalist who graduated from the Jackson School in 2017 with a B.A. in international studies and B.S. in informatics, urged the graduating class to “make bold choices, not just for yourself, but on behalf of your community.”
Aina, who is based in her hometown of Tacoma where she reports and produces podcasts for the NPR station KNKX and has received post-degree recognitions such as the NPR Kroc Fellowship for public media journalists, as well as two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, told the students “I wasn’t a journalism major. But what I learned here in the Jackson School comes in handy, literally every day, and it has real life consequences.”
In recognizing the graduating classes of 2022, 2021 and 2020 were impacted by the global pandemic, Aina emphasized:
“You have lived through some of the most transformative events in human history, and definitely in international relations. A generation of students will be reading about this moment in their textbooks. Some of you may be writing those textbooks, some of you might even be in them. There is no group of students better equipped to rise to the occasion and to meet the current moment.”
A degree that matters
During the ceremony, Director Fernandes announced several annual honors and awards for students who demonstrated outstanding skills in leadership, scholarship, and service. Tara Saleh, a global and regional studies major with interdisciplinary honors and a focus on human rights, received the flagship Jackson School Leadership Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize.
The award also comes with the honor of addressing the graduating class during the ceremony. Saleh, who graduated with a GPA of 3.95 in her major and was named a UW Honors Undergraduate Scholar, spoke about her experience discovering injustices in the world, emphasizing that “The world of healthcare and human rights has only become more infuriating and polarized, increasingly embedded and institutionalized, and therefore more dangerous.”
During her time at the Jackson School Saleh helped launch ‘Observatorio,’ a project to monitor the efficacy and compliance of a Washington state sanctuary law for immigrant groups and received several fellowships with the UW’s Center for Human Rights for research.
“We need to realize in order to do something truly wonderful with this degree, it demands creativity,” Saleh said. “And that is what makes this program special… I ask, that when we leave this institution, for us to be creative, to work hard and the intention to keep it in check, to not give in to the stagnant and the mundane because this generation was tasked with more … because the creativity to imagine what we want in this world is our step forward and there are opportunities every day, so seize them as small as they may be.”
Other recognitions announced during the ceremony by Director Fernandes included for graduating senior Caitlin Quirk, recipient of the 2021-2022 Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar Award for demonstrated excellence in international studies with an interest in pursuing a career in the foreign policy arena, and Shixin Huang, a doctorate graduate in international studies, for being named by the College of Arts & Sciences as the 2021-2022 Graduate Medalist for the Social Sciences.
Additional honors highlighted included:
- Graduate Book Award: Ilsa Abdul Razzak (M.A. South Asian Studies) with a GPA of 3.99
- Undergraduate Book Award: Joshua Swynenburg (B.A. International Studies; Russian Language, Literature and Culture) with a GPA of 3.99
- Best Honors Thesis: Caitlin Quirk (B.A. International Studies) for her thesis “Sumak Kawsay: Mobility, Embodiment, and the Re-making of Andean Philosophy”
- Best Honors Thesis Honorable Mention: Rachel Blair (B.A. International Studies) thesis “Military Justice in Chile: Exploring its Ongoing Violation of the American Convention on Human Rights; Sarah Jacob (B.A. International Studies) thesis “Performative Violence Online: How the Syro-Malabar Church Disseminated Disinformation;” and Yean Kim (B.A. International Studies and Economics) thesis “The Effect of Juche Ideology on North Korean Nuclear Weapons Development”
For being selected by the UW administration to the UW Husky 100 in 2022, four Jackson School graduating students received mention during the event: Dustin Mattaio Mara (B.A. International Studies; Bachelor’s in Design, Visual Communication Design); Andrea Jade Scallon (B.A. International Studies); Sydney Sherk (B.A. International Studies); and Jiani Wang (B.A. International Studies; Communication).
An honor for impact
Each year during the Convocation ceremony, the Jackson School Student Association presents an award to a Jackson School staff or faculty member who shows outstanding dedication and significant impact to student learning inside and outside of the classroom.
In announcing Associate Professor Stephen Meyers as the recipient of the 2022 Student Service Award, the president of the Jackson School Student Association, Juliette Lanser, noted that many nominations were received this year, “a reflection of the commitment of our Jackson School faculty and staff to their students.”
Lanser spoke about Meyers as someone who “has consistently gone above and beyond, providing counsel in times of difficulty, taking suggestions and feedback seriously, and was flexible with student needs.”
Upon accepting the award, Meyers, who at the Jackson School also serves as chair of the M.A. in International Studies program and director of the Center for Global Studies, thanked the students: “We have such a wonderful student body, it is easy to serve you. You have really made my life wonderful.”
In closing the ceremony, Director Fernandes thanked the students for their work, their families and friends who attended in-person or watched the ceremony via livestream for their support, Jackson School faculty and staff, and the UW School of Music Sky Quartet for providing the musical backdrop during the event.