“There is a tendency among all kinds of nations big and small, to withdraw from the world and abandon the world around them,” said Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba to over 1,200 Jackson School graduating students and their families and friends, as well as faculty and staff, gathered for the School’s Convocation on June 7, 2018 at the Center for Spiritual Living, an event space near the University of Washington. “I think this is precisely why doing international studies today is that much more important.”
Highlighting examples of research from the Class of 2018, from a feasibility assessment that will allow Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees to create self-sovereign digital identities to access and earn money to leprosy transmission in Indonesia to refugee integration in Berlin, Germany, Kasaba, who is also the Stanley D. Golub Chair of International Studies and emceed the evening event, emphasized the diversity of the projects, noting “our classes and projects and research address many of the most important issues that define our age.”
“More paths are open than you can imagine”
In her keynote address, Carmela Conroy (B.A., International Studies, 1984; JD, 1990), a career Foreign Service Officer who currently directs the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict & Stabilization Operations, told the students: “When I was sitting where the new graduates are, I could never imagine I would be where I am today. Achieving this milestone opens you up to more paths than you might be able to imagine right now.”
Conroy, fluent in Japanese and trained as a lawyer, spoke of her journey as a Foreign Service Officer: “I learned that service sometimes means facing down an angry admiral or an angry ambassador who is really not at all interested in hearing from a junior officer who has decided that she’s going to speak truth to power. Sometimes it’s visiting Americans who are justly or unjustly imprisoned in a foreign country. Sometimes it’s celebrating July 4th in a young democracy in a country with less experience as an independent nation than the U.S.”
“Service means to me I need to be able to face myself in the morning and prepare to be the best that I can be that day,” she noted. “My most rewarding days are the days that, at the time, frightened me the most.”
[Watch the video of the Jackson School Convocation 2018]
[View more photos from the Convocation event]
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. Kaia Boonzaier, an international studies and economics 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.
“The Jackson School has taught me to write. It has taught to think critically about the sources I read, and the news I consume,” she told the audience during the ceremony. “It’s given me a more global perspective both in the classes and in the diverse community of peers. It’s taught me to be collaborative in my work and support team members in projects. For me, the Jackson School has really felt like a major within a really small liberal arts school with all the support you could want.”
A UW Honors student, Boonzaier graduated with a GPA of 3.91. She has served as editor-in-chief of the Jackson School Journal, collected data on malnutrition in India for an NGO and conducted demographic research in Greece.
“A big part of leadership is willing to take risks, and show by our actions, the difference we can make in the world,” said Director Kasaba, upon giving the award to Boonzaier. Immediately following graduation, Boonzaier heads to Quito, Ecuador, where she will engage on an environmental project.
Kasaba also announced two Book Awards for academic achievement that each come with an award of $500:
- Graduate Book Award: Mengyao Liu (M.A., China Studies, 2018), with a GPA of 3.99
- Undergraduate Book Award: Lisa Kwak (International Studies and Dance, 2018), with a GPA of 3.97.
Kwak was also recognized for winning a UW Dean’s Medal, one of only four in the whole of the College of Arts & Sciences.
Three Jackson School students who made the UW Husky 100 List for their passion, leadership and commitment to making a positive difference on campus and in their communities, were also named during the ceremony. They are:
- Adrian Alarilla (M.A., Southeast Asian Studies, 2018)
- Kaia Boonzaier (B.A., International Studies and Economics, 2018)
- Henry Milander (B.A., International Studies, 2018)
In addition, Director Kasaba highlighted the establishment of The Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar Award, a new honor that will be bestowed during the Jackson School Convocation, starting from 2018-2019. It will go to an outstanding graduating student 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.
Students honor human rights professor
Every year, the 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 Chair of the UW Center for Human Rights and Jackson School Professor Angelina Godoy as the 2018 recipient of the Student Service Award.
“Professor Godoy’s passion for justice and upholding of human rights shines through not only in her work, but in her every day demeanor,” said Jackson School Student Association President Marielle Trumbauer, also graduating as an international studies major, in her announcement during Convocation of the award winner. “She has inspired PhD students to come to the UW specifically to work for her, and she has catalyzed Jackson School undergraduates in the field of human rights work.”
“We are all deeply inspired by the work she [Professor Godoy] has done, her ability to leverage resources and talent of the university to serve grassroots human rights movements in Central America, and here in Washington state.”
Read more here about Godoy’s national leadership on Freedom of Information Act requests with regard to uncovering human rights abuses in the U.S. and abroad.
Godoy who was not able to be present at the ceremony, also holds a joint appointment with Law, Societies and Justice department at UW.
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