Meet the 2022 Presidential Scholars
The Presidential Scholar award is Western Washington University’s highest graduation honor for undergraduates. Students are selected by deans of their respective colleges for their exceptional scholarship, success in furthering multicultural programs and activities, and high levels of service to their communities. Each Presidential Scholar receives a medallion to commemorate the award.
The 2022 Presidential Scholars are:
College of Business and Economics
CBE faculty who nominated Hisham for this award describe him as a “brilliant scholar and a servant leader.” The accounting graduate from Plano, Texas, is known for his critical thinking and insightful questions in the classroom, for his beautifully written papers and glowing presentations. Humble and generous, Hisham is also leader in Western’s Muslim Student Organization, as co-president and treasurer, and for Beta Alpha Psi, the international accounting honorary society, as the reporting secretary. Hisham also serves as a director and manages the financial books for Noorishment, an education non-profit in Dallas, and serves as a mentor to first-generation students and students of color. After graduation, Hisham will intern with EY in their audit department.
College of the Environment
Sienna, whose Tlingit name is Kushxeet, is a member of the Point House of the Kiks.ádi Clan in Sitka, Alaska. An environmental science major and skilled scientist whose work spans many boundaries, Sienna’s summer research has yielded two peer-reviewed articles and one oral presentation. She is also devoted to building community, climate and access for indigenous students at Western through her leadership in the Native American Student Union, on the Tribal Relations Committee, and on the Coast Salish Longhouse planning and steering committees. In Sitka, Sienna serves on the Tlingit and Haida Youth Commission and recently helped with a Tlingit community event honoring the return of herring.
College of Fine and Performing Arts
With a major in theatre arts and minors in music, arts enterprise and cultural innovation, and honors interdisciplinary studies, Aidyn is a performance artist who has held leading roles on stage and behind the scenes. Her performance in “Henry V” earned an Irene Ryan Nomination from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Backstage, Aidyn was an assistant director for two productions and a costume designer for three others. She also sang with the Advanced Treble Choir. In addition to performing, Aidyn is a scholar who explores how skills from theatre arts can build more inclusive communities. Aidyn was co-chair of CFPA’s Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce and represented the CFPA in the AS Senate.
College of Humanities & Social Sciences - Behavioral Sciences Division
Aliyah is a phenomenal student who has succeeded in double-majoring in two of the most difficult fields at Western, biochemistry and neuroscience. Her ambition is a career in biomedical research to develop better drugs for people impacted by brain diseases, while building representation of African Americans in medicine and biomedical research. She has already developed a reputation for meticulous organization, observational skills and leadership in the lab while excelling in the classroom with an extremely high grade point average. Aliyah, from North Mankato, Minnesota, is also an accomplished track and field athlete who set a WWU record in the pentathlon, was a two-time All-American in the high jump, and received WWU’s Athletics Scholar Athlete of the Year Award.
College of Humanities & Social Sciences - Humanities Division
Nate, from Richland, is an accomplished student and leader who served as the Student Trustee on the WWU Board of Trustees as well as the vice president for Business and Operations on the Associated Students Executive Board. He completed a major in philosophy, politics, and economics with a 3.98 GPA and was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. Nate also interned for Speaker Laurie Jinkins in the Washington State Legislature and for the Whatcom Housing Alliance, researching solutions for housing affordability. Outside of the classroom, Nate was a crisis counselor for the Trevor Project, sang in WWU choirs, and was a captain of the WWU Swim Team. After graduating, Nate will intern in the U.S. Congress and was admitted to the London School of Economics for graduate school.
College of Science and Engineering
Erin is already a dedicated and accomplished scholar who excelled in both their physics and mathematics-computer science majors while leading and contributing to multiple research projects in astronomy and physics education. Notably, Erin’s work has identified hundreds of eclipsing binary star systems that had so far escaped detection; they’re submitting a research manuscript for publication in the American Astronomical Society Research Note. Erin’s work has been commended by the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. They’re also devoted to inclusion, serving as co-president of the Physicists for Inclusion in STEM club and the STEM Clubs liaison for the Out in Science club. Erin is also active in community groups in their hometown of Bremerton.
Woodring College of Education
Liana, a special education major from Mercer Island, is an outstanding scholar devoted to equity, restorative justice and teaching students who struggle with learning. She seeks out opportunities to promote equity and justice for all students, especially those with complex emotional and learning needs. Liana also struggled in school when she was younger and wants to create a more equitable community by supporting students’ development of self-advocacy and self-determination. She views disability as a form of diversity, rather than a deficit. These principles guided Liana in her internships in elementary and middle school classrooms. She also presented at Scholars Week on strategies to help students with various disabilities and was a guest lecturer on special education through the lens of the disabled experience and disability advocacy.