Awards and Accomplishments

Honors students

We are incredibly proud of our students. Not only do they excel in their undergrad courses and are involved in numerous extracurriculars, they consistently win highly competitive and selective scholarships and fellowships.

Authors and Publications

A smiling portrait of Iris sitting on a cement ledge with a lush, leafy background.

Iris Báijīng Hubbard

Author of Switched

Iris Báijīng Hubbard is a Chinese-American adoptee from Guangzhou, China. She was adopted at about 16 months and grew up in Mount Vernon, WA. Iris became more interested in her adoptee identity while attending Western Washington University. There, she started a club for adoptees called the WWU Adoptees. Switched was inspired by her own experiences as an adoptee and competitive swimmer. Iris is currently a master's student at the University of Eastern Finland studying early language education for intercultural communication.

Portrait of Kai standing in front of a bookcase wearing a flannel and a beanie.

Kai Broach

English - Creative Writing Emphasis Major
Energy Science & Honors Minors

Kai won the Western Regional Honors Council Award for Short Fiction with their piece "My Apologies" which will be published in the 36th edition of Scribendi.

"I'd like to thank Scribendi magazine and the WRHC judges for this honor! "My Apologies" was inspired by a neon hotel sign across the street from my house, and by my bad habit of saying sorry for things that I really shouldn't need an apology. It's written about and for my fellow perfectionists, in the hope that we can all lighten up someday. The wonderfully strange works of Silvina Ocampo and Rivka Galchen also served as inspiration and aspiration. I'm endlessly grateful to all my English and Honors professors at WWU, especially Elizabeth Colen, who helped edit the piece. In their own ways, they have all helped me be less apologetic about putting my writing out in the world. I hope to keep doing so, and to find ways to help others do the same!"

IRIS Undergraduate Internship

In gloved hands, Ula holds a small crab next to her face at the beach.

Ula Jones

Geophysics, Environmental Science (BS)
Astronomy, Mathematics, & Honors Minors

Ula is a senior in the environmental science major and a junior in the geophysics major with minors in math, astronomy, and honors interdisciplinary studies. She was recently accepted to the IRIS undergraduate internship program as a research assistant at Brown University in summer 2022. The project is regarding the propagation of Rayleigh waves from various earthquakes through Alaska and is expected to shed light on some of the unusual aspects of the Alaskan subduction zone. After graduating in Spring 2023, Ula hopes to broaden her understanding of geophysics and other interdisciplinary sciences and go on to study planetary science or another application of geophysics.

Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award for college juniors and seniors preparing for a career in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Portrait of Darby smiling in a Western sweatshirt

Darby Finnegan

Award: Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program, Duke University, 2017 and Goldwater Scholarship, 2019

Degree: BS, Marine Biology, 2020

While at Western, Darby's love for the Pacific Northwest's coastal ecosystems evolved into a persistent curiosity about the strange phenomena of the marine environment. Her special interest in fish and their movements ultimately lead to her selection for the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) at the Patek Laboratory of Duke University to study biomechanics. Darby then went on to earn the Goldwater Scholarship, the first recipient for WWU. Upon graduating from Western, Darby had her sights set on graduate school, where she would be able to continue her research.

Hudson Fellowship

The Hudson Fellowship offers outstanding undergraduates the opportunity to study political theory in a way that will broaden and deepen their understanding of public policy and American political principles. 

Petra Ellerby

Award: Hudson Institute Summer Fellowship

Degree: BA, History, 2024

Minor(s): English, Honors Interdisciplinary Studies

Petra is an Honors student in her first year at Western. She is hoping to major in History with possible minors in Honors and English.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship

The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.

Western Washington University produced five Fulbright winners in 2019 and was named a top national producer for Fulbright Scholarship winners in the 2018-2019 school year.

Portrait of Iris sitting in a field of red tulips

Iris Báijīng Hubbard

Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Taiwan, 2019

Degree: BAEd, Environmental Studies, 2019

Certificate: Elementary Education

Iris’s love of teaching began in high school. It started with teaching swim and piano lessons and evolved into teaching elementary school. Iris’s interests in environmental education led her to a degree in environmental studies with a teaching certificate in elementary education. Outside the classroom Iris was involved in creating awareness about adoptees at Western. She continued her work through her capstone project with fellow Honors student, Saige Wilde, and wrote a children’s book about her experiences as a Chinese American adoptee. Through the Fulbright ETA program Iris was able to follow her dream of teaching abroad. Upon the completion of her Fulbright, Iris planned to obtain a master’s degree in education.

Colin wearing a flannel and a backpack in the mountains

Colin Misich

Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Spain, 2017

Degree: BA, Communication Sciences & Disorders, Spanish, 2017

Colin is a native of Western Washington, a baby animal enthusiast, and an amateur musician. During his time at Western, Colin double majored in Spanish and Communication Sciences & Disorders and was proud to be part of the Honors Program. After a magical study abroad experience in Salamanca, Spain, Colin was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Spain to teach English through the Fulbright Program. In the future, Colin hopes to pursue bilingual speech therapy as a speech-language pathologist; he will be attending Portland State Univeristy’s SLP Master’s program in the fall of 2018. Colin is passionate about music (all kinds), good food, and Western Washington University.

Tobias in a pirate hat poses with a classroom of children in Taiwan

Tobias Osterhaug

Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Taiwan, 2015-2016

Degree: BA, History, 2014

Minor(s): International Studies

Tobias, a student from the Western Honors Program, received the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and is now teaching English to 3rd graders in Fengyuan, a suburb of Taipei and the capital of Taiwan. He has four classes each day, and co-teaches about twenty-five students per class. Adored by his students, Tobias reports the overall experience has been very rewarding: “I already feel that I’ve grown immensely as a person.” Tobias is able to get around (and be immersed in Taiwanese culture) from the seat of his new scooter, and says the opportunity afforded by the Fulbright Award is “changing [him] as a person every day.” After Fulbright, Tobias will attend graduate school at the University of Washington (Jackson School of International Studies).

Portrait of Nathan in a flannel with a bookcase, map, and cross on the wall behind him

Nathan Drapela

Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Austria, 2015

Degree: BA, Philosophy, 2014

Minor(s): English, German

Nathan was selected for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Austria, where his studies of German language and literature were put to good use. Nathan hopes to pursue a career in education, and as a Fulbright scholar he was able to explore personal interests, including German literature and philosophy, while gaining valuable teaching skills he could translate from one classroom to another. Nathan’s backgrounds in “rowing, hiking, coffee, and brewing beer” certainly helped him bond with his community abroad. Nathan wrote his Honors Thesis about Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game.

Emily stands outside in a yellow tank top and a sun hat, holding sunglasses in her hand

Emily Brodie

Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Spain, 2015

Degree: BA, Spanish, Biology, 2013

Emily, a student of the Western Honors Program, received the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and traveled to Spain. Childhood experiences initially piqued her interest in travel and taught her to see the value of a commitment to curiosity and education. During her academic career majoring in Biology and Spanish she also traveled to Panama, Nicaragua, and Argentina. In Spain, she plans to use her experience with and understanding of Spanish to help students achieve fluency through cultural curiosity. Emily herself hopes to become more adept at classroom management and enhance language education in schools. Following her experience in Spain, Emily plans to pursue Master’s level studies and become an educator.

Samuel Bliss

Award: Fulbright Research Award, Spain, 2015-2016

Degree: BA, Economics, Environmental Studies, 2013

Minor(s): Spanish, Energy Policy

Sam, a student from the Western Washington Honors Program, was awarded a Fulbright to study the interactions between sustainable degrowth and economic inequity in Spain. He plans to partner with degrowth scholars in Western Europe to contribute to the body of research and learn what aspects of degrowth can be realistically transported back to the United States. His research is expected to extend the macroeconomic theory of wealth and income inequity, and through his own recent experience of economically downshifting, he has been living his research interest. Sam’s undergraduate success in economics and environmental studies has demonstrated his ability to integrate formal learning with independent study, and he hopes to use his newfound skills to present his findings in meaningful written products for both professional and public audiences.

Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship

The Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship was established in 2005 after Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina retired. Hollings was an advocate for ocean policy and conservation and the scholarship was created to bolster undergraduate training in NOAA mission sciences, as well as increase environmental literacy.

Portrait of Thomas wearing a Bears sweatshirt in front of College Hall.

Thomas Morrissey

Award: Hollings, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New Jersey, 2016

Degree: BS, Chemistry, 2018

Minor(s): Materials Science

Thomas, a student in the Honors Program at Western Washington University, received a NOAA Hollings scholarship to help fund two years of college tuition and an internship at a NOAA facility. During the summer of 2016, he participated in sample-collection and computer modeling at a national laboratory in Highlands, NJ. Under the instruction of NOAA scientists, Thomas contributed to studies on the efficacy of alternative, low-toxicity methods for measuring ocean acidification. This research will help increase the safety and environmental compatibility of future studies which monitor changes in ocean chemistry due to climate change. Following graduation, Thomas hopes to begin a research career in chemistry or materials science.